U.S. Army Africa and Senegalese military medical professionals hosted a closing ceremony on the last day of Medical Readiness Training Exercise 19-2 at the Hospital Militaire De Ouakam in Dakar, Senegal, April 25, 2019, to highlight their strengthened partnership.
Approximately 40 U.S. Army and 40 Senegalese medical professionals participated in the 18-day collaborative learning experience. It was a mutually beneficial exercise that brought together the U.S. Army and Senegalese military organizations to foster cooperation while conducting medical tasks.
“We thank you for your hospitality and friendship, and truly do appreciate the time that we spend together each year during these exercises,” said Col. Kelly A. Murray, USARAF command surgeon. “We look forward to working with you again in the future.”
She continued, “As we close this year’s iteration, it is my hope that everyone will take the lessons learned here and share their knowledge with their colleagues that did not have the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary exercise."
“There is an old African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far you go together,’ and I believe this partnership we have, will, in fact, go far together.”
MEDREX 19-2 was a combined effort between the Senegalese government, U.S. Army Africa, 44th Medical Brigade, 14th Combat Support Hospital, Vermont National Guard, Martin Army Medical Center and Munson Army Medical Center that took place in Dakar and Tambacounda, Senegal, April 8-25, 2019. The exercise provided a unique environment where medical professionals from both militaries can build and strengthen medical treatment capability and capacity by honing their medical skills in alternative conditions while also learning different protocols from their counterparts.
“It has been really nice working with the Senegalese surgeons because a lot of the principles of being conservative of your resources and planning a simple, straight forward surgery I employ in my practice back in the states, which made this exercise extremely comfortable, and I realize that my methods are common practice in different cultures around the world,” said Maj. Benjamin Franklin, a general surgeon, attached to Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning, Georgia.
“As far as specific techniques, you see one, you do one, you teach one type of mentality has been a consistent practice during our experience here in Senegal,” he said.
Franklin praised the Senegalese medical professionals and said he learned several techniques that he would adopt and take back to his practice stateside.
“If given the opportunity, I would most definitely participate in another medical readiness exercise with my Senegalese colleagues.”
Through the course of the MEDREX, the combined team from Dakar and Tambacounda, Senegal, have seen 884 patients, providing surgical care, emergency care, burn care, physical therapy and the repair of biomedical equipment while sharing lessons learned and strengthening partner capacity.
This is the second in a series of medical readiness exercises that USARAF is expected to attend this year within a handful of countries in Africa, providing an opportunity for the partnered militaries to train shoulder to shoulder in a sometimes restricted resourced environment.
“During my experience here, working with all of the staff has really been welcoming,” said Sgt. Jessica Cortez, an operating room specialist, attached to the 14th Combat Support Hospital. “They have taught me their ways without me even needing to ask. They have been very descriptive with their procedures, and even if there was a language barrier, they were still able to show me different ways to do things. This has been an amazing experience, and I would definitely do this all over again if I had the opportunity.”
Among the list of distinguished visitors who attended the ceremony were Col. Kelly A. Murray, the USARAF command surgeon; Col. Rachele M. Smith, the U.S. Army 14th Combat Support Hospital commander; Lt. Col. Kenneth G. O’Neil, the USARAF medical readiness exercise planning chief; Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg, the command sergeant major for the office of the surgeon general of the U.S. Army Medical Command; and Sgt. Maj. Michael W. Davis, the USARAF chief medical noncommissioned officer.
Continue to monitor the U.S. Army Africa website and social media sites for updates on this important event.