American, British medical units conduct Operation Starlight

Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham
30th MEDCOM Public Affairs

HOHENFELS, Germany — Soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 212th Combat Support Hospital, headquartered in Miesau, and the United Kingdom’s 208th Field Hospital (Liverpool) conducted Operation Starlight Oct. 2 to 6 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here.

The joint medical training — the first of its kind between the two countries — enabled the units to exercise a 44-bed medical facility as they conducted joint medical interoperability operations. The training also serves to validate the units’ training and readiness to support any future real-world missions.

“We’re here to practice joint deployment of U.S. and U.K. medical forces downrange in Afghanistan,” said Col. Peter Jackson, commanding officer of the 208th FH (L). “We are always preparing for the potential of being deployed to work at a hospital in theater.”

While developing the partnership between the units, the training incorporated real-world scenarios and medical procedures into the exercise by injecting external, internal and clinical events throughout the operation. As the scenarios build and evolve, the units are able to identify things that need to be adjusted. The training also enabled them to recognize techniques that worked well during the evacuation, stabilization and resuscitation of severely wounded Soldiers.

“This is a very realistic look at what goes on in some of the most extreme stress points that a CSH staff will go through,” said Col. Richard Jordan, 212th CSH commander.

By stressing the staff and identifying potential problems in this training environment, they are able to develop solutions that can be taken with them if deployed.

“It’s been very successful. We’ve had the length of time to actually start working together, and now we’re identifying certain key areas that are going to be training points for the future,” Colonel Jackson said.

The training tested both units’ mettle while simultaneously building the confidence and resolve needed to save the lives of Soldiers downrange.

“We’re trying to take their experience — and some of our experience — with the variety of different wounds that would normally be considered un-survivable injuries,” Colonel Jordan said. “This has been a very valuable experience and we’ve learned to identify and solve problems based on a mutual cause. We have a patient here and what we have to do is afford them the best possible outcome that we possibly can.”

Both commanders plan to maintain this relationship with more training planned in the U.K. in the next year. That training, like the training during Operation Starlight, has a single goal in Colonel Jackson’s mind.

“What this is about is saving life and limb,” he said. “I went back to our wall, which is the same as your wall — a memorial to the fallen. My wife and I read out all the names of the people who died on our last watch. This training is to do with keeping more names off the wall.”