By Capt. Addie SnayApril 24, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (April 24, 2012) -- Current operations in Afghanistan are a joint effort by servicemembers of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force as well as Coalition forces from various countries, operating together to ensure Afghanistan is a safe and sovereign country.
Medical operations throughout the country are no different, and senior military medical officials from the U.S. and the United Kingdom visited medical units throughout Afghanistan to assess the advances and challenges being faced in the medical community while in a deployed environment, and to have a chance to talk with service members from their respective services.
"I think it is very important for us as we're moving further and further toward a joint medical community that the surgeons general come out here and see, number one, where the advances are, but also number two, where the roadblocks are so that they can apply their pressure and their input to try and fix some of these system challenges that have been facing everybody for a long time," said Brig. Gen. Brian Lein, International Security Assistance Forces Joint Command Medical Advisor and U.S. Forces Afghanistan Surgeon General.
The surgeons general team consisted of: Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan; Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Green; United Kingdom Surgeon General Vice Adm. Philip Raffaelli; and U.S. Army Deputy Surgeon General Maj. Gen. Richard Stone as well as their respective senior enlisted advisors.
The whirlwind tour visited medical facilities in Regional Commands East, South and South-west over several days, and the generals and their senior leaders made it a point to engage with the service members during their tours of the different medical facilities.
Raffaelli said there are several important reasons for senior medical officials to visit service members and facilities in the field, "One is to see how the guys are doing and to listen to them, and you learn from that. I think it's also real important that we come out and let them see that we're here, we are interested."
"(Visiting Afghanistan) helps me to assess first of all what we're teaching our medical personnel at the Medical Education and Training Campus, it helps me to see what kind of pre-deployment training we're doing, what kind of training we need to train them on prior to deployment and then what we need to do with them when they return to organizations," said Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Brock, the U.S. Army Medical Command senior enlisted advisor to the Army Surgeon General.
The visiting generals also wanted to hear service members experiences and lessons learned.
"I think is good for them to see how we work and operate and see that we are dedicated high-speed individuals (who) know our jobs and experience Afghanistan," said Spc. Hannah McLauchlan, 440th Medical Detachment Blood Support, stationed at Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield.
The way the services operate together in the medical community is currently being shaped by the experiences of service members, at all levels, as they provide medical care with coalition forces across the theater of operations.
"I think the biggest challenge we have is these amazingly bright amazingly competent service members from all the services from all countries are learning, working, developing (and) we need to capture that," said Stone. "Our ability to take the experiences of these great teams and really bring them back and translate their experiences into the doctrine that we need to create."
The surgeons general will take back their assessments and observations to their respective services, to help shape the future of medical care on the battlefield.