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NEWS | July 1, 2022

Oklahoma National Guard Conducts SPP Visit to Azerbaijan

By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire, 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

BAKU, Azerbaijan – The 137th Special Operations Medical Group conducted a combat casualty care knowledge exchange with Azerbaijan during a State Partnership Program visit to Baku June 20-24.

The visit was the second between doctors with the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense Operational Capabilities Concept Battalion and Oklahoma National Guard medical personnel this year.

“This visit helped further our understanding of how the battalion training framework could align with ours to become interoperable with NATO forces for point of injury care and evacuation in the future,” said Lt. Col. Brian Herb, flight physician assistant and air adviser with the 137th SOMDG. 

“We learned a little when they visited us in Oklahoma earlier this year, but seeing their educational and logistical capabilities helped us find a starting point for discussions on how they can prioritize developing their enlisted corps’ medical skills,” Herb said.

Helping develop complementary military training doctrine between foreign militaries can be critical when working in proximity to one another in foreign environments. Members of the Azerbaijan military supported Afghanistan for many years and were among the last troops who left Kabul International Airport in August, said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan ambassador to the United States, on a visit to Oklahoma earlier this year.

“The U.S. military has been improving its point-of-injury care based on lessons learned over the past 20 years during the Global War on Terror, so we want to do everything we can to help our SPP partners improve their combat medical doctrine without them having to go through those lessons firsthand,” said Herb.

One of the largest medical engagements was Operation Cherokee Angel in 2007, where members of the 137th Medical Group and the 138th Fighter Wing conducted a humanitarian mission to Azerbaijan. This most recent exchange continued that decades-long SPP collaboration while allowing 137th SOMDG air advisers to learn how the Azerbaijan military trains its troops for combat medical response.

“I am on track to become a tactical combat casualty care instructor and have multiple tiers of TCCC training, and something we found on this visit is that instructor exchanges could be very beneficial in helping them customize medical training for their OCC Battalion enlisted personnel,” said Master Sgt. Amanda Stanley, an air adviser and noncommissioned officer in charge of flight medicine with the 137th SOMDG.

“Moving forward, we hope to set up a series of ongoing engagements with our state partner as we work toward becoming interoperable over the next few years,” Stanley said.