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SFA AT mentors ANSF partners in life-saving evacuation

October 25, 2012

By Sgt. Courtney A. Selig, First Army Division East Public Affairs

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.-- For more than three arduous days, Afghanistan National Security Forces, with the help of Security Force Assistant Advisor Team Bluetick, worked to save the life of a severely injured National Directorate of Security Soldier.

The NDS Soldier suffered severe, life threatening, shrapnel wounds and burns to his left arm when the Nuristan Provincial Capital, Parun, was attacked by Taliban insurgents. Although his arm required immediate attention, the isolated location and the mountainous terrain where the incident occurred required three days of travel to arrive at Central Outpost Kalagush Joint Aid Station.

The ANSF at OCC-P Nuristan tracked and assisted in the casualty evacuation coordination when possible. During the multi-phased, deliberate casualty evacuation, the injured Soldier's father and a local villager carried him on a litter more than 30 kilometers, when they couldn't use vehicles.

"Our partnership has been strong with our counterparts," said Maj. Lucas Morales, Bluetick team member. "The training and recognition of the events that needed to take place to get the casualty here was essential before they could submit a MEDEVAC request."

Team Bluetick, a First Army Division East SFA AT, has been conducting training, key leadership development, and personal interaction with OCC-P Nuristan. Through these events, they have been able to guide and teach their counterparts to a greater level of proficiency.

"Once the casualty made it to our location, with actual medics to evaluate and treat him, the process went smoothly," said Morales. "The harsh environment in which the casualty had to be transported to us was instrumental in the recognition that Nuristan needs more roads."

Upon arrival at Kalagush, Maj. George Bolton, the team executive officer, Capt. John Moriarty, the team operations officer, along with members of the ANSF Operation Coordination Center -- Provincial Nuristan, ensured the casualty was immediately taken into the Joint Aid Station, where he was examined by a U.S. Army and 1st Kandak medics.

Due to the advanced deterioration, the medical team determined that the Soldier required an immediate MEDEVAC.

While CASEVAC operations lasted several days, due to poor road traffic ability and INS attacks, treatment and MEDEVAC operations were conducted with nearly flawless and timely execution.

"The NDS agent's left arm was amputated, but his life was saved. Without the determination of CASEVAC personnel from Parun and coordination of medical support, to include MEDEVAC from OCCP Nuristan ANSF personnel, the infection from his wound would have spread throughout his body with lethal consequences," said Morales.

"OCC-P Nuristan has become more self sufficient and able to handle more requests through their channels and ours for assistance," said Morales. "They have significantly improved their reporting procedures and understanding of standardized reports. Additionally, they know how to operate using an SOP that clearly defines what actions need to occur for specific events."

He added that their understanding was crucial to keeping this man alive and a successful MEDEVAC.

"As an Advisor Team we have enjoyed much success, and our Afghan counterparts are receptive to our advice and recommendations," stated Morales. "OCC-P Nuristan was nearly self sufficient before we arrived. However, with our assistance they have refined their systems and procedures and clearly demonstrated the ability to function independently."

According to members of Team Bluetick, this was the epitome of a joint effort and partnership with all entities contributing and committed to keeping the NDS Soldier alive. Morales said while this was a real-world event, it also served as an excellent training exercise which built on previous MEDEVAC training and Joint Aid Station Operations.

"OCC-P Nuristan has tremendously improved their reporting processes and is more than ready to operate independently after Team Bluetick redeploys," said Morales.
The SFA ATs, teams of highly trained officers and noncommissioned officers, mentor and advise Afghan Army and Police units as they conduct security operations. SFA ATs began training in mid-January 2012 and deployed in spring, 2012. A second iteration is planned this fall.

First Army Division East is responsible for the overall mission of mobilizing, training, validating, and deploying Reserve Component Soldiers around the globe and demobilizing them upon their return home. Last year, First Army Division East mobilized more than 20,000 Soldiers and demobilized almost 26,000.

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