By Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Texas Army National GuardMay 21, 2012
MUDUBUGU, Burundi (May 21, 2012) -- Texas National Guardsmen had the opportunity to share best practices with Burundi soldiers preparing for an upcoming deployment during a visit to Mudubugu, Burundi, March 26-April 6, 2012.
The exchange included courses in combat life saver, tactical combat casualty care, mechanized infantry and mortars. The U.S. Army Soldiers shared their knowledge on the subjects in a classroom setting and then the Burundi soldiers put it to use in a practical exercise.
"We talked about basic first aid, advanced trauma care, combat casualty care and evacuation of casualties," said Leahy, Task Force Raptor medical specialist. "Then we would practice dressing wounds, placing tourniquets and employing the different types of carries, like fireman's carry and buddy carry."
According to Bautista, Task Force Raptor physician assistant, the Burundi soldiers were excellent students.
"They were very eager to learn and gain knowledge," Bautista said. "Even though we were sharing basic information, they wanted to know more. I enjoyed sharing what I knew with them because I felt it was going to be put to good use."
The Burundi soldiers were in the last phase of pre-mobilization training for their deployment in support of missions in East Africa. Marr, an infantry platoon sergeant with Task Force Raptor, felt proud to be part of their preparation.
"I love training Soldiers," Marr said. "Especially these men, who were getting ready to deploy just like I am deployed now. I felt like I wanted to go with them--not to help or get involved in any conflict, but to make sure they were OK and utilizing what I shared. For two weeks these were my guys. I bonded with them and felt that camaraderie I feel with my Soldiers back home."
According to the Texas National Guardsmen, sharing their values and standards as Soldiers was the best part of the training.
"With the Burundi noncommissioned officers and officers, we shared the values we hold as leaders," said Siwecki, a Task Force Raptor infantry platoon leader. "Things like how younger soldiers look to us, not only for leadership, but to bring them back home safely; guiding principles that they will soon put to use."
A graduation marked the end of the Burundi soldiers' training and the beginning of their deployment. It also left the U.S. Soldiers with a sense of accomplishment and being part of something larger than themselves.
"When I first heard that I was coming to Africa, I thought I'd be more directly involved by providing medical care to the local population," Bautista said. "However, after working with the Burundi soldiers, I realized by sharing what I know, not only as a medical professional but as a U.S. Soldier, these men will go out, do good things and potentially save lives."