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Colombia and U.S. Army South work to treat more than 5,100 patients

Feb 8, 2010

By Ms. Arwen Consaul, U.S. Army South Public Affairs

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Feb. 8, 2010) -- Much needed specialized and general medical treatment was provided to the people of Colombia during a Medical Training and Readiness Exercise from Jan 25 to Feb 3. At the invitation of the Colombian Government, Army Soldiers from U.S. Army South and the Army Reserve provided medical treatment at La Macarena and San Vicente del Caguan, Colombia.

Medical Readiness and Training Exercises are U.S. Southern Command sponsored, U.S. Army South conducted, joint foreign military interaction/humanitarian exercises. These annual humanitarian assistance missions, which deploy U.S. military medical professionals to Latin American and Caribbean nations, allow for training and the opportunity to provide humanitarian services.

"This is a great opportunity for us to practice our skill sets in the field while working in an austere environment," said Army Capt. William Payne, the officer in charge of the mission and a member of the 425th Minimal Care Detachment out of Indianapolis, Ind. "This offers a real world environment should we ever need to use our skills for future humanitarian assistance."

The purpose of this Medical Readiness and Training Exercise in Colombia was to continue the U.S. commitment to Colombia while improving the quality of life for the local populous with the assistance of the Colombian military. The on-going civil war between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has made various areas throughout the region dangerous. U.S. participation in this Medical Readiness and Training Exercise reinforces the effectiveness of Colombian Security Forces throughout Colombia.

"The government of Colombia provided great security to our Soldiers on the ground," said Army Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, commanding general of U.S. Army South. "Working with the Colombian Security Force shows our resolve to support the people of Colombia and a desire to put our efforts where they can be most maximized."

The Government of Colombia, with the support of their security force, provided a secure environment in remote areas of Colombia in which the U.S. Army medical specialists provided their assistance.

"The Colombian Military Force was quite helpful," said Payne. "They provided the needed security to protect the medical team from any potential dangers which allowed us to do our job and treat over 10,000 Colombians."

While in Colombia, members of the 425th Minimal Care Detachment provided general medical treatment to more than 3,700 patients, dental services to over 200 patients and optometry care to more than 1,100 patients.

Relationships built and sustained with our multinational partners in Central and South America and the Caribbean region through such medical exercises help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and preserving peace and stability in the region.

"We care about the people of Colombia," said Payne. "We want to come back and provide as much help as we can."

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