Military medical experts share knowledge in Cambodia

by Cpl. Terry Brady, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Sailors with the 3rd and 4th Medical Battalions joined Royal Cambodian Armed Forces members to participate in a subject-matter expert exchange during Cambodia Medical Exercise 14-1 March 17-21 at Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

During the exercise, medical personnel from both nations shared lessons and techniques, focusing on the role of medical personnel in providing support during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

“Handpicked selections of physicians (and medical personnel) were sent to enhance capabilities to provide medical support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief responses in this region,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Pete C. Wagner, a physician with 4th Med. Bn., 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. “There are 25 total members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces working with 15 U.S. service members during this event.”

During the exercise, participants listened to lectures, took part in group discussions, and executed hands-on training. The exercise ended with an HADR scenario to test the participants’ abilities to rapidly respond to a large number of casualties. Each part of the exchange encouraged teamwork and feedback.

“I am expecting participants from both nations to be fully engaged throughout the exchange,” said Wagner. “This exercise will create good will and dedication toward theater security goals.”

Medical professionals from different fields, including field corpsmen and physicians, provided instruction for all service members involved in the exercise.

“It is unique to have such a broad spectrum of subject-matter experts,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Luis Orta, a medical service corps officer with 3rd Med. Bn., 3rd MLG, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Our goal is to help improve interoperability with each other and improve the ability to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.”

Though Cambodia has not recently experienced large-scale natural disasters, the country faces challenges such as avian influenza and flooding.

“We are all aware that Cambodia has not encountered disasters like other countries,” said Col. Chao Khin, the chief of the Health Bureau, Royal Gendarmerie Headquarters. “It is important to prepare for these just in case. We will get experience in handling disaster response from this event.”

The exercise strengthened the relationship between Cambodia and the U.S. and helped personnel develop response plans for potential disasters.

“It is a good opportunity to learn and teach lessons with the U.S.,” said Khin. “We will take all the lessons learned and use them for future planning.”

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