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Medics test battlefield skills in desert

42 Commando  in the Californian desert


Amid searing heat in the Californian desert, which best mimic the conditions faced by Royal Marines in Afghanistan, medics have been putting their battlefield casualty skills to the test. With daily temperatures reaching over 30C, the marines are under the same pressures they face in Afghanistan – the risk of dehydration and fatigue while in challenging situations.

It is such different terrain that it makes a lot of difference for the lads to come and operate here. The guys are still working very hard and now we are starting to see it come together at troop level.
Major Ben Halsted, Officer Commanding Kilo Company

Working from the US Marine Corps’ Air-Ground Combat Centre in Twentynine Palms, Kilo Company, 42 Commando have been using a mock-up Middle Eastern village in a vast training facility which comprises of 932 square miles of desert terrain.

For three days the medics took part in a bespoke version of the US Navy’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care training package which covered how to deal with serious battlefield casualties.

It covered airway, breathing, circulation, haemorrhage control, various injuries they are likely to encounter on the field and their respective treatments.

As part of the training, the medics were given a state-of-the-art dummy to practise on – one that is capable of bleeding and can shout out in pain, describing where he is hurting.

“We could end up working with these guys on operations in the future and this is an ideal opportunity for us to train with the Americans and for them to see what we do as well,“ said Petty Officer Ralph Crook.

“We have got a really good working relationship with the American military medics and it is interesting to see their training techniques.”

Aside from the medical training, 42 Cdo have been exercising on the US military’s live-firing ranges. One serial saw Kilo Company from the Bickleigh-based unit taking part in a specialist engagement exercise to take down an enemy.

This involves three patrols advancing on a target to suppress their firepower, another one covering their flank and the third reorganising themselves to take over the first. The three sections rotate in these roles until the goal is complete and the target is down.

Major Ben Halsted, Officer Commanding Kilo Company said:

"So far it’s going very well, I’m very impressed with this range as it’s a great setup.

"It is such different terrain that it makes a lot of difference for the lads to come and operate here. The guys are still working very hard and now we are starting to see it come together at troop level.”

As the troops practised their various skills, they were also paid a visit by Brigadier General George W. Smith, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Commanding General of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre.

The Brigadier General was escorted by the Commanding Officer of 42 Royal Marines Commando Lieutenant Colonel Neil Sutherland MBE RM and the Regiment Sergeant Major Matthew Tomlinson.

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