Preparing Soldiers for war on, off battlefield

Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Layton
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***The most important thing I can do for Soldiers here at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is prepare them well for war both on and off the battlefield. Our technical skills are ready but our tactical skills need practice.
When these Soldiers get deployed (and they will), I want them to return safely. I owe that to both them and their parents, who have entrusted the welfare of their children to LRMC Commander Col. Rhonda Cornum, and I.
The best way to do that is simulate real-life combat conditions. We have begun to implement a plan to do just that. At least four times a month, we will train the way we fight. This is done during Sergeant’s Time Training. Improvised fighting positions are set up, buddy team movements, casualty evacuation and first aid and anything to do with responding to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
But why wait until Thursday comes around? There are plenty of opportunities to do some interesting, beneficial and fun training.
June 29, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie companies got a taste of some of my improvised training. It began at 6:30 a.m. on the parade field. Soldiers, and a few Airmen (who I was thrilled to see participating), showed up in their Physical Training uniforms and body armor.
Then I, along with the other sergeants major and first sergeants, moved the groups through various medic-related drills, litter carries, whereby someone was strapped to a gurney while four Soldiers hoisted him overhead and carried him to safety. Proper carrying techniques as well as speed and efficiency were stressed.
While that was going on, another group practiced buddy carries. Think it’s easy to put a 200-pound Soldier over your shoulders and run 50 yards? It’s not. But these servicemembers were motivated and got through it as best they could.
The third group practiced moving quickly across an explosive-laden field. Mortar attacks are a huge threat to deployed Soldiers. A quick response can save your life.
When a Soldier leaves LRMC and goes to 1/6 Infantry, those line unit Soldiers want the medic trained and ready.
It’s all about real-life situations. Granted, we may not do it with everything – kevlar, gas masks and rifles, but it sure is a step up. Anytime you add something to your training, it’s a step up.
It also is a form of stress relief. Our medics face stressful situations every day. So it’s good to get them out there and just wear them out. And in the process of wearing them out, they end up learning something that just may save their lives.
One thing I told my Soldiers after the training was that down-range feels like this all of the time. You’re sweating. You’re dirty. You’re tired. Now think about those Soldiers in Iraq who feel this way each and every day.
That is why we are doing this. LRMC is clearly the rear of the battlefield for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and we are proud of this.
If you hear you have a Soldier coming to your unit from LRMC, consider yourself getting a well-disciplined, trained and ready Soldier.