By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
137th Special Operations Wing
Members of the 137th Special Operations Medical Group (SOMDG) traveled to Azerbaijan to conduct a combat casualty care knowledge exchange with Azerbaijan Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) Battalion doctors and medical noncommissioned officers during a State Partnership Program (SPP) visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, June 20-24, 2022.
This is the second SPP visit between Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense OCC Battalion doctors and Oklahoma National Guard medical personnel this year.
“This visit helped further our understanding of how the battalion training framework could align with ours to become interoperable with NATO forces for point of injury care and evacuation in the future,” said Lt. Col. Brian Herb, flight physician assistant and air advisor with the 137th SOMDG. “We learned a little when they visited us in Oklahoma earlier this year, but seeing their educational and logistical capabilities helped us find a starting point for discussions on how they can prioritize developing their enlisted corps’ medical skills.”
Helping develop complementary military training doctrine between foreign militaries can be critical when working in proximity to one another in foreign environments. Members of the Azerbaijan military provided support to Afghanistan for many years and were among the last troops who left Kabul International Airport, said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan ambassador to the United States, on a visit to Oklahoma earlier this year.
“The U.S. military has been improving its point of injury care based on lessons learned over the past twenty years during the Global War on Terror, so we want to do everything we can to help our SPP partners improve their combat medical doctrine without them having to go through those lessons first-hand,” said Herb.
One of the largest medical engagements was Operation Cherokee Angel in 2007, where members of the 137th Medical Group and the 138th Fighter Wing conducted a humanitarian mission to Azerbaijan. This most recent exchange continued that decades-long SPP collaboration, while allowing 137th SOMDG Air Advisors to learn firsthand how the Azerbaijan military trains its troops for combat medical response and offer suggestions for how they could modulate their training to work toward that NATO interoperability.
“I am on track to become a tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) instructor and have multiple tiers of TCCC training, and something we found on this visit is that instructor exchanges could be very beneficial in helping them customize medical training for their OCC Battalion enlisted personnel,” said Master Sgt. Amanda Stanley, an air advisor and noncommissioned officer-in-charge of flight medicine with the 137th SOMDG. “Moving forward, we hope to set up a series of ongoing engagements with our state partner as we work toward becoming interoperable over the next few years.”