Monthly Archives: September 2010


The Community Development Center (CDC) 5 stairwell in downtown Djibouti City was packed tight Sept. 13 as more than 180 children rushed out of the building. Each child carried a bundle of school supplies, a T-shirt and a smile passed on to them by the U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CABN).

The distribution of the welcome supplies resulted from a close collaboration between U.S. Army Maj. Michael Guiles, 418th CABN, and director of School District 5, Mariam Youssouf.

“The people come to me and tell me what problems there are in the community,” said Youssouf. “I relay that to Civil Affairs when they come to see me.”

Youssouf has been in contact with the Army for three months, and when the CA team stops by, they always ask how they can help, she said.

Word went out through local media in Djibouti City that children from School District 5 could come to the center for school supplies. The particular CDC was chosen for the distribution to reach the most people possible.

Donations were collected by several organizations within Combined Joint Task-Horn of Africa as well as from stateside organizations.

Supplies came from as far away as Oshkosh, Wis., hometown of 418th CABN executive officer, Lt. Col. Michael Hert.

“Education and health care are big priorities here,” said Hert. “Donating school supplies is an opportunity for people back home to reach out and connect internationally.”

District 5 children sang Frere Jacques before thanking the soldiers and going outside for a lesson on playing Frisbee with the 418th CABN.

Asked if the children were always this lively, Youssouf replied, “There is always excitement when the Army comes.”


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MEDFLAG 10 brings medical assistance to 2,000 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Originally uploaded by US Army Africa

Maj. Angie Allmer of Jamestown N.D., a nurse with the North Dakota National Guard’s state medical detachment in Bismarck, helps a woman walk to the humanitarian assistance waiting area Sept. 14, 2010, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James D. Sims

Crowds gathered, some with pre-registered tickets in hand, others with just a hope of being seen by a healthcare professional in Kinshasa Sept. 9.

“I saw a crowd of people and asked what was going on,” said Ousmane Kalotho Mutuala, a Kinshasa resident. “When they told me it was for medical care, I immediately went and got my friend who can barely see because his eyes are so bad and came back to try and get in.”

The lines started forming hours before the humanitarian civic action site opened its doors for medical and dental care to the residents of Kinshasa. Residents that had tickets were registered in advance, ensuring they would be seen on a certain date. Even though some residents, like Mutuala, did not have tickets, medical providers saw them.

“Unfortunately there is a much bigger demand then what we have assets for,” said Maj. Curt Kroh of Washburn, N.D., a physician assistant with the North Dakota National Guard’s 814th Army Support Medical Company, which is based in Bismarck. “However, we stayed until we ran out of time and material.”

Kroh is taking part in MEDFLAG 10, a joint medical exercise that allows U.S. military medical personnel and their Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) counterparts to work side by side while providing humanitarian assistance to Kinshasa residents.

Approximately 25 FARDC and U.S. medical and dental personnel, and an additional 50 support staff, provided services. Over a four-day period, FARDC and U.S. medical personnel provided assistance to approximately 2,000 Congolese.

Patients were treated for various illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to malaria. The most common problem encountered was residents with eye problems, because they have never been examined, said Kroh. In addition to medical attention, dentists provided care ranging from basic oral hygiene to tooth extraction.

“The bulk of the medical care that was provided in the exam rooms was by FARDC doctors,” said Kroh. “The FARDC doctors are very well involved in the treatment of the local population.”

While all residents could not be seen and all problems could not be treated, residents were entered into the medical system and given referral letters for follow-up care.


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MEDFLAG 10: Dental care for the people of Kinshasa


Originally uploaded by US Army Africa

Air Force Capt. Vincent Chippone of Sacremento, Calif., and an Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) dentist, prepare a patient for dental treatment Sept. 11 in Kinshasa. Chippone a reservist with the 940th Aeromedical Dental Flight, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., is in the DRC as part of MEDFLAG 10 a joint training exercise with the U.S. and FARDC militaries focusing on humanitarian and civil assistance.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James D. Sims

Taking a vacation or going home for the holidays brings to mind a picture of having fun and spending time with family.

However, for family members of embassy staff, a trip back to Europe or the United States means finally having the opportunity to visit the dentist — at least until this week.

“It’s been about two years that I’ve been trying to get to the dentist,” said Kathryn Anne Crowder, a family member of an embassy worker in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. “So this is a much needed visit.”

Crowder was one of about 35 patients seen by three Air Force Reserve dentists visiting the DRoC as part of MEDFLAG 10, an annual joint medical training exercise that allows U.S. military service members to work side by side with their African counterparts. In addition to training, the joint forces also provide humanitarian and civic assistance to local residents.

“Working with the local population has given us the feeling we are reaching those that really need it,” said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Garcia-Castellanos of Miami, a member of the 482nd Aeromedical Dental Squadron, based at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.

Both American and Congolese dental professionals spent several days in classroom training reviewing the necessity of basic oral hygiene and preventive care before providing assistance to Kinshasa residents.

Medical and dental staff will assess roughly 2,000 cases and provide the necessary care to Congolese citizens during a four-day period of the exercise.

“The experience has been quite enlightening,” said Garcia-Castellanos. “It has given us the opportunity to engage in active dental care side by side with the Congolese army dental corps, and the exchange has been excellent.”

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Congolese and American military share medical expertise in Kinshasa

Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Immediate Response Unit (UMIR) demonstrate opening a patients airway, during classroom training in Kinshasa, DRC, Sept. 7. Members are participating in MEDFLAG 10, a joint military training exercise between the U.S. military and FARDC soldiers to enhance emergency response capabilities in the region.

Approximately 40 U.S. service members shared medical techniques and procedures with their Congolese counterparts Friday at the Command and Staff College in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of MEDFLAG 10.

“We are showing them how we approach patient care, giving them pointers and seeing what we can do to help improve and fine tune their skills,” said Sgt. Stuart Hammer of Mandan, N.D., a combat medic with the 814th Army Support Medical Company, Detachment 1, based in Grand Forks.

U.S. service members are exchanging medical techniques with the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo Immediate Response Unit (FARDC UMIR) and medics, who are the Congolese military’s first responders to disasters.

“We taught classes on malaria, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, parasites, and hypertension,” all subjects related to tropical Africa, said Capt. Itofe-Engulu Desire, a 16-year veteran doctor with FARDC.

Classes led by U.S. service members included arriving at the scene of an incident, assessing casualties, and treating and preparing patients for transport. The 814th brought training aids, including a U.S. Army issued medic bag and moulage, modeling material used to devise mock injuries for added realism.

Pvt. 2nd Class Ndalaga-Sango Augustino, a nurse with the FARDC UMIR, said the U.S. medics taught her and her fellow soldiers about battlefield evacuation procedures, while the UMIR practitioners taught the Americans different techniques for bandaging patients. The exchange of techniques was beneficial to both groups, she said.

“We’ve shared a lot of good ideas and have gotten some techniques from them that I never would have thought of, such as different patient carries and bandaging of patients,” said Spc. Ricky Smith of Fargo, a combat medic with Detachment 1.

The battery of classes is leading up to a mass casualty exercise that will take place Sept. 16, in which the FARDC UMIR soldiers will demonstrate how their disaster response operations.

The UMIR’s Company 3 responded to the oil tanker truck that overturned in the eastern Congo in July, bursting into flames killing at least 230 and injuring more than 200. The UMIR soldiers are anxious to show their countrymen their skills and how, with better equipment and more trained soldiers, they would be able to better treat casualties in the event of a similar disaster, said Smith.

“In the end, we hope they can gain anything that makes them more adequate at saving lives,” said 1st Lt. Coty Sicble of Bismarck, a medical administrator with the 814th based in Bismarck.

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MEDFLAG 2010 opens with pageantry


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The Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) music battalion play at the opening ceremonies of MEDFAG 10, a joint training exercise between the U.S. military and the FARDC armed forces addressing medical and humanitarian assistance training, Sept. 6 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.S. Armed Forces along with the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) held an opening ceremony Sept. 6 at the Command and Staff College in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to signify the start of MEDFLAG 10, a joint medical exercise.

“Today and throughout the exercise, we gather together as military personnel and civilians working together in the spirit of friendship and cooperation,” said Lt. Col. Todd Johnston, the MEDFLAG 10 U.S. forces task force commander. “It is inspiring to look back at where we have come from and look forward to where we are going.”

The ceremony began with the arrival of distinguished guests, including Luzolo Bambi, Minister of Justice and Human Rights for the Democratic Republic of Congo; Charge d’ Affaires Samuel Laeuchli; Maj. Gen. Marcelin Lukama, FARDC Chief of Defense Forces; and Col. Gilbert Kabanda, FARDC surgeon general.

The FARDC military police presented honors while the FARDC music battalion performed both countries’ national anthems.

“It is my hope that our respective national organizations will learn something about each other as they work together over the coming weeks,” said Luzolo. “In the end, it is about saving lives and minimizing human suffering in the event of a disaster.”

Following the opening ceremony, U.S. medical personnel began classroom instruction with the FARDC on familiarization of malaria signs, symptoms, causes and treatments. Both armed forces will continue classroom instruction on various medical topics for the next four days.

After all classroom instruction is completed both forces will work side by side to provide humanitarian assistance to Congolese citizens.

MEDFLAG 10 will continue through Sept. 18.


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Originally uploaded by US Army Africa

MEDFLAG 10 opens tomorrow, Sept. 6, 2010, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Participants arrived in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and began to prepare for MEDFLAG 10, a joint medical exercise focused on humanitarian assistance that will take place Sept. 6-18 in Kinshasa.

MEDFLAG 10 is the latest in a series of exercises involving U.S. military forces and partner militaries in Africa with the aim of establishing and developing military interoperability, regional relationships, synchronization of effort and capacity building.

“As we approach the culmination of months of strenuous preparation on both our parts, we look forward to the beginning of a successful exercise and ongoing efforts with the Congolese forces,” said Lt. Col. Todd Johnston, MEDFLAG 10 Task Force Commander for U.S. forces.

Approximately 100 U.S. military personnel and 250 Congolese military personnel will work together to increase the combined readiness of their medical forces to respond to humanitarian emergencies.

“When working on the same objective it is important to have the same procedures,” said Col. Gilbert Kabanda, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo Surgeon General. “Without uniformity it is hard to reach our goal.”

MEDFLAG is an annual medical exercise that brings together U.S. military personnel with counterparts from militaries throughout Africa. MEDFLAG was initiated in 1987 as a U.S. European Command-sponsored, bilateral medical exercise to facilitate an exchange of medical information and techniques with militaries in Africa. In 2009, the MEDFLAG exercise transitioned to AFRICOM oversight.

Congolese forces participating in the exercise include the Unit Medical Immediate Response of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.S. forces participating in the exercise include U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM); U.S. Army Africa; U.S. Marine Corps; 5th Signal Brigade; 21st Theater Sustainment Command; 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Illinois Army National Guard; 349th and 482nd Aeromedical Dental Squadrons; 404th Civil Affairs; 409th Contracting; 814th Medical Company, North Dakota Army National Guard; 772nd Civil Support Team; the 943rd
and 940th Aeromedical Dental Flights; and Naval Reserve Support Activity, New Orleans Team; and the 943rd and 940th Aeromedical Dental Flights.

Previous MEDFLAG exercises have taken place in Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Gabon, Georgia Republic, Ghana, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi.

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