GABORONE, Botswana - Lt. Col. Rick Vatt, an officer from the North Carolina Air National Guard and U.S. Army Africa's Maj. Terry Clark and Sgt. 1st Class Roddy Rieger spent the last week of January sharing medical information in Gaborone, Botswana.
"Our intent was to familiarize the Botswana Defense Force with U.S. Army ways to care for casualties under tactical conditions and the roles of first responders," Clark said. "In turn, we learned a lot from the BDF about their medical capabilities."
Roughly two dozen BDF officers and noncommissioned officers took part, to include physicians, nurses, medics, logistical officers and aviation officers. To set up the event, the U.S. team worked closely with Lt. Col. Chris Wyatt and Maj. Syd Shinn, U.S. military officers assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone.
Brig. Gen. George M. Tlhalerwa, chief of staff for BDF land forces, welcomed the team upon their arrival. Then the medics set to work. Learning went both ways, Clark said.
After an initial U.S. briefing, a BDF officer explained his army's healthcare system. Being that it was the first time U.S. Army Africa and Botswana shared a medical event, it was important to understand each other's backgrounds, Clark said.
"We requested the BDF briefing to better understand their capabilities and their vision for the future development of their medical corps," Clark said. "That quickly established what information would best assist them in their efforts."
During the workshop, the U.S. Soldiers discussed force health protection, the levels of care ranging from battlefield treatment to aid stations and back to stateside military hospitals, the makeup of U.S. Army medical units and how medical units are staffed.
Rieger discussed career progression for U.S. Army NCOs in the medical field. Then he offered an overview of U.S. Army medical gear, combat lifesaving skills and the role of aviation in evacuations. The talks became more in-depth as the team covered trauma care and tactical casualty evacuations
"The BDF then offered us a tour of their medical clinic, which helped us better understand their current capabilities," Rieger said.
The BDF also shared their experiences from anti-poaching assignments and peacekeeping missions, Rieger said. The BDF wants to create its own first responder course to provide further medical capabilities for its troops. Future partnership events could involve U.S. Army medics offering guidance during the development of a first responder course and taking part in medical exercises in Botswana. The BDF is also interested in building a blood supply system, improving medical logistics and learning more about preventative medicine, Clark said.
"This was a great opportunity for both U.S. Army Africa and the BDF to build a relationship that can lead to future events in the medical field," Clark said.