NATO forces testing to earn U.S. Army Expert Field Medical Badge

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Candidates in the 2011 U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge Standardization and Testing familiarize themselves with their terrain pace count before testing their land navigation skills July 31, 2011 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. U.S. and multinational candidates are in Grafenwoehr for two weeks to earn the right to wear one of the most coveted badges in the military medical community. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Wheeler, 138th PAD, NYARNG)

German 2nd Lt. Felix Honig, SanStff Mainz Hospital, assists German Sgt. Dustin Nicholas, 4th Company, 21st Hospital Regiment, with the removal of his chemical protective equipment during the demo phase of Combat Testing Lane 2 at the 2011 U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge Standardization and Testing, August 2, 2011 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. CTL 2 tests candidates on their ability to perform basic Soldier skills while protecting themselves from a simulated Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear attack. (U.S. Army photo by Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Wheeler)

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Medical personnel from the U.S. Army Europe and NATO-ally Germany are in Grafenwoehr, Germany for the 2011 U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge Standardization and Testing, August 1-13.

The EFMB, seen as a hallmark of excellence in the medical community, is usually only open to U.S. military medical personnel. However, this standardization and testing is open to NATO allies who often work hand-in-hand with U.S. forces on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

“The EFMB is available to any of our NATO troops and is a very difficult badge to earn,” said Sgt. John A. Kasen, medic and EFMB badge holder, 557th Medical Company (Area Support). “The German Army and the U.S Army have a great collaboration out here in Europe, we trade medical training all the time. It’s just a great collaboration between militaries.”

Even though earning the badge is an individual accomplishment, having medical personnel train together is an important step in teaching one standard way to treat Soldiers, not only in places like Afghanistan, but wherever NATO troops are stationed working to accomplish the same goal.

“In partnership with our NATO forces we’re coming together and training as a whole so we will all be able to provide the best medical care to all of our forces,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Ambrose, NCOIC of Behavior Health, Landstuhl, Germany and NCOIC, EFMB Combat Testing Lane (CTL) 3. “It’s important for nations to work together to ensure we have one standard of care, and that is to basically help the Soldier provide the same treatment, regardless if it’s a German or U.S. Soldier.”

Building partnerships between countries starts with Soldiers building friendships with each other, said the EFMB cadre.

“These training activities not only build camaraderie, but when you put NATO forces with American forces they basically share in each other’s lives. It’s where walls start to be broken down and Soldiers get to know Soldiers,” said Master Sgt. Harold Pharis, NCOIC of the Surgeon’s Office, 21st Theater Sustainment Command and EFMB Land Navigation NCOIC.

Even though attaining the EFMB is an individual achievement, the main goal is to have countries train together to become familiar with each other when they deploy and end up on the battlefield, and need each other’s help.

“Partnership is key, and I believe right now we’re developing a partnership here in Europe,” said Master Sgt. Abdel Guzman, medical operations NCO, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion and NCOIC of the 2011 USAREUR EFMB. “As we fight in the battle right now, as we engage with them in Afghanistan, we can also train and test with them here so once we are deployed together we can kind of understand each other’s culture a little better.”

Since this was an U.S. Army Europe-sponsored event one of the biggest hurdles Soldiers from other nations had to overcome when training with U.S. Army Soldiers was the language barrier.

“It’s an honor to be here and great experience to work with American Soldiers, but the biggest challenge is studying for the written test because it’s not in our language and it’s hard to do the medical stuff in English,” said German Sgt. Dustin Nicholas, reserve officer cadet, 4th Company, 21st Hospital Regiment.

With three Combat Testing Lanes and one Land Navigation Lane being run at the same time it takes many training resources hold this type of event.

“Grafenwoehr is a great training area, it has a lot of natural resources available where we can simulate the battlefield and try to get us as close as possible to events they might experience in an area that’s not built up,” said Guzman. “The folks here at Grafenwoehr, the JMTC (Joint Multinational Training Command), have gone above and beyond to ensure that our training requirements have been met for great warrior medics of all the participating nations.”

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