USAFE Surgeon General organizes Minnesota, Croatia medical exercise

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cameron Silver
  • USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs
  • Through USAFE Global Health Engagements, military medical personnel from the Minnesota Army National Guard and Croatian Armed Forces exchanged and enhanced medical skills
  • The participants were able to promote interoperability in key NATO operating procedures and strengthen their partnership

ZAGREB, Croatia – Medical professionals from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Surgeon General office, the Minnesota Army National Guard, and the Croatian Armed Forces conducted a patient holding and specified diagnostics tabletop exercise in Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 22-25, 2024.

The combined training is part of Air Force Medical Service’s Global Health Engagements, a program designed to grow partnerships with other nations, strengthen security cooperation, and boost partner capacity through health-related activities and exchanges. In this instance, experts strove to enhance force readiness and collaboration between the military participants from Minnesota and Croatia.

Minnesota and Croatia are teamed up through the U.S. Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program. Every U.S. state’s national guard has at least one nation partner military that they have been matched with to conduct combined exercises and share best practices. Minnesota and Croatia have been linked since 1996.

The State Partnership Program enables timely and accurate intelligence sharing and early warning and rapid response to emerging threats. This proactive approach enhances regional security and helps prevent potential crises.

This engagement focused on NATO standard agreements related to medical aspects of patient holding and specified diagnostics. This common set of operational and administrative procedures enables interoperability between radiology, laboratory and biomedical equipment technicians across the Alliance.

“On behalf of the Command Surgeon, we are excited to partner with the Croatian Armed Forces in a global health engagement to develop NATO interoperability and Role 2 development,” said Maj. Shanna Vaughan, an international health specialist with the Office of the Command Surgeon, USAFE-AFAFRICA.

Role 2 support is a NATO classification of medical support normally provided at the Wing-level or higher. In general, this support provides evacuation from facilities, triage and resuscitation, treatment and holding of patients until they can be returned to duty or evacuated, and emergency dental treatment.

The training was rounded out by a capstone tabletop exercise combining every element of Role 2 support.

“We worked on patient hold and ended with a culminating event consisting of a tabletop exercise which operationalizes the entirety of how the Role 2 would work,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Larson, the brigade medical readiness NCO for the 1/34 Armored Brigade Combat Team, Minnesota ANG.

The training met all objectives and generated excitement for the next combined training opportunity.

“We are also working to coordinate a medical engagement in the future with the Minnesota and the Croatian Armed Forces to exercise Role 2 development in the real world,” said Larson.

Engagements like this are critical for the technical interoperability required for NATO and Allied operations to provide opportunities to practice information sharing. With gateways opened for continued cooperation, partners like Minnesota and Croatia can strengthen mutual trust, maintain a state of preparedness and proactively ensure Alliance stability and security.