Medlite-10 successful mission, great training for all involved

KHARROUBA AIR BASE, Tunisia -- Members of the 153rd Airlift Wing returned April 22 from a joint exercise known as Medlite-10 at Kharrouba Air Base, Tunisia.

The 153rd Medical Group was joined by other members of the 153AW including civil engineering, security forces, emergency management, flight equipment and public affairs. The Illinois Army National Guard, and the Nevada Army Reserve worked alongside members of the Tunisian military in an exercise aimed at enhancing medical capabilities and improving medical interoperability between the two forces through conducting a disaster response and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives(CBRNE) exercise.

Medlite, which started in 2000, is a tradition between Tunisia and U.S. Forces. This is the seventh combined medical exercise.

Col. Khaled Lamine, deputy head of the emergency department of the medical hospital in Tunis, said, "The relations between our two medical services are being consolidated by running these Medlite exercises; indeed these occasions are giving a real chance to both personnel to meet, share knowledge and improve their proficiencies."

Medlite-10 included about 140 Tunisians and 37 U.S. military medical personnel including: physicians, nurses, technicians, medical administrators and other specialized and support personnel. "This is a great opportunity for us," said Col. Stanley Bruntz, 153rd Medical Group commander, "Medical personnel all around the world have a natural bond. Our mission is to treat the sick, care for the wounded, care for those who need medical care. If you are a medical person, physician, provider--that is your ultimate goal--to reduce suffering of people."

The field training exercise was based on a chemical plant which produces organo-phosphates for use in homes as pesticides that was damaged causing a major explosion with multiple casualties suffering from nerve agent exposure, thermal and trauma injuries.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Kristing Mauer, the 153 AW senior health technician, there were a large mixture of classes for all of the different groups of personnel.

"Providers worked with our providers and received a lot of advanced trauma life support training," she said.

"The medical field training exercise will be an opportunity to practice what has been seen during the didactic phase on the field," said Lamine. Bruntz said, "The joint Tunisian-U.S. exercise allows us to learn from each other and increases greater functionality and cooperation between the two countries."

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Grimm, U.S. Air Forces Africa and 17th Air Force command chief said, "The partnership program is an outstanding initiative. It develops long-term relationships between the Air Force and our partner nation, builds continuity in training, and I think it's going to grow dividends over the years as the partnership matures. Folks who came here as Airmen come back as NCOs and senior NCOs, or lieutenants come back as captains, majors and colonels down the road."

"Both sides are obviously excited about what they're doing," said Col. Philip Fallin, 404th Air Expeditionary Group commander currently assigned with 17th Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, "Tunisia has proven to be a very gracious host. And the folks from Wyoming are obviously well prepared and eager to do a good job."

"Tunisia has had an outstanding relationship with the United States. I think it's something they value very highly and they would like to see not only continue, but continue to expand," Fallin said. The United States has valued strong diplomatic relations with Tunisia for over 200 years. On March 26, 1799, the first agreement of friendship and trade was conducted between Tunisia and the United States.