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Afghan soldiers learn combat life-saving skills

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U.S. Soldiers taught combat life-savings skills to Afghan Border Police during an ongoing joint medical training session at Fire Base Torkam, Afghanistan, May 19.

U.S. Army Spc. Erik Michelson, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Steel, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, combat lifesaver instructor from Phoenix, taught the students how to provide care in the field.

“The ABP soldiers have the outposts stationed around Torkham Gate,” Michelson explained, “they watch over us as much as we watch over them.” He said he hopes to train more ABP so they can take care of themselves.

The Afghan Border Policemen received classroom instruction as well as hands-on training.

“We understand each other even without the interpreter; they watch and we gesture a lot,” said U.S. Army Spc. David L. Lurch III, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., combat medic from Woodbridge, Va. “The language hasn’t really been a problem we just work around it. We had some misunderstandings, such as the ‘nose hose’ [a tube placed in the nose to open the airway]. The training is a little slower because we have to translate everything to teach them, but overall we have overcome the language barrier.”

The language barrier has been partly overcome with the willingness of both the U.S. Army soldiers and the ABP to exchange ideas and humor.

“We joke around together, they play jokes on us and we joke with them. They have learned a little English to communicate with us better,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Jimmy Serrano, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., combat medic from Orlando, Fla.

Even with the jokes and budding friendships the Serrano said they are taking the materials covered very seriously.

“They don’t have full time combat medics. They do have a doctor and a similar aid station but no medical treatment during patrols. This makes immediate medical training in high demand,” Serrano said.

Learning care under fire is important to the U.S. Army as well. With more joint patrols, medics are needed in the ABP.

“The ABP Soldiers are only trained with materials they have or can order through their Ministry of Interior,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Clifford Syner, a doctor, from Anstead, W. Va. “We had their doctor involved from day one, deciding what could be used and showing his support by showing up to the class.”

Each ABP soldier was chosen because they can read and write. This is important because the class work is structured to be a “train the trainer” experience, said Michelson. They will be able to take the material back and teach their fellow soldiers life-saving techniques.

“This training is very helpful to us because we are learning how to take care of our friends during combat,” said ABP Sgt. Gull Rahman.

Article by Maj. LeeAnn Tumblson, Combined Joint Task Force 1