MIESAU, Germany (March 15, 2013) -- Under a moonlit sky, emergency medical helicopters from Company C, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, touched down at Miesau Army Depot and discharged moulage-covered role players onto the landing zone.

Medical Soldiers from the 212th Combat Support Hospital, or CSH, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, or LRMC, rushed out with litters to take the simulated patients into the waiting military ambulances.

The scene appeared pretty gory, as makeup artists had done their job to make the recent training exercise feel authentic.

"Moulage helps make it more real," said Sgt. 1st Class Tanyanika Jones, a 212th CSH noncommissioned officer who oversaw the Soldiers from 30th Medical Command and other local units who volunteered for mock injuries made of latex and rubber covered in simulated blood.

"It adds to the shock and awe. When medics run up to the patient, they see the blood and guts hanging out," Jones said. "If you've seen someone with moulage, it does mentally prepare you for what you would see on the battlefield."

During the March 12 mass casualty drill, Company C's UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, known as "Dustoff," airlifted 30 simulated casualties from Landstuhl to Miesau. Soldiers from the Baumholder-based 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion used field litter ambulances to transport them to the CSH where medical professionals assessed injuries and provided appropriate care.

The 10-day training exercise, designed to test 24-hour operations of the CSH's portable field hospital, was slated for Hohenfels. But with current fiscal considerations, the command decided to hold the exercise at Miesau, a U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern installation.

"We saved maybe a hundred thousand dollars," said Lt. Col. Stephen Linck, the 212th CSH's assistant chief nurse. "We spent a very small amount on the professional make-up artists and the value that added was incredible."

The 212th is comprised of nearly 200 medics, doctors, nurses and other support Soldiers, many of whom work at LRMC when not in the field. This training offers to build skills and increase proficiency.

"The mission of the CSH is different from LRMC," said 1st Lt. Matthew Lewis, a 212th staff nurse. "We deploy to an austere environment and set up the CSH. At LRMC, you don't have that aspect. Setting up out here means you have to find answers to challenges you wouldn't find at the (fixed) hospital."

Soldiers transformed military tents and specially designed metal containers into a working hospital. This time, they used a 64-bed configuration, but they can make it larger, if needed. They set up 24 intensive care unit beds and 40 intermediate care ward beds. They also had two complete operating theaters.

For some 212th Soldiers, the effort offered a chance to hone skills they will need soon downrange.

"This exercise is also doubling as a mission rehearsal exercise for a slice of our hospital that's getting ready to go to Afghanistan," Linck said. "The commander wanted us to work on three things; to support ourselves with living arrangements, working on force protection, and humanitarian and detainee operations."

Soldiers finished the training by offering families a tour of the mobile hospital and dinner in the field. Overall, Soldiers said the experience bolstered their confidence, said Col. Kimberly Smith, the CSH's deputy chief nurse.

"We remain ready for any contingency at anytime," Smith said.