With nearly 70 percent of its medical capabilities located in the Reserve component, the U.S. Army is tasked with a critical balancing act to ensure that U.S. warfighters continue to receive the superlative combat medical care that has been demonstrated over the past decade of war.
According to Col. Michael Ellerbe, Medical Service Corps, deputy commander of Army Reserve Medical Command’s Medical Readiness and Training Command (MRTC), the generation of that combat support stems from a carefully crafted Army Reserve Training Strategy that is in turn incorporated into a broader service vision.
“Nested into the Army Reserve Training Strategy is how the Army Reserve is going to train in support of what is now called Future Force Generation – previously called Army Force Generation [ARFORGEN],” he said, noting how the process served to coordinate active-component elements on a three-year cycle – reset year following deployment/training year/available year – with the five-year cycle of Army Reserve units – reset year/three increasingly complex trained and ready years/available year.
As might be expected, the three sequential trained and ready years within the Army Reserve cycle reflect an increasing amount of collective training requirements. However, the time constraints of Army Reserve “training weekends” make some aspects of the collective training extremely hard to achieve in a realistic environment.
A case in point involves the Army’s Combat Support Hospitals (CSHs), high-technology field medical facilities that provide life saving care that has proven to extend “the golden hour” of survivability following combat injury.
The modular CSH can be established in several sizes, ranging from a 44-bed Early Entry Hospital Element, to an 84-bed configuration, to a 164-bed configuration, to a full CSH size of 248 beds. The total bed figure normally reflects the “in patient” combination of beds in intensive care wards and intermediate care wards.
In a field setting, the establishment of combat capabilities for even the smallest CSH configuration is expected to take up to 72 hours. Unfortunately, that 72-hour set-up time line falls outside of drill weekend parameters, meaning that some members of the Army medical community might not have the chance to conduct realistic collective training in an actual deployed environment.
One effort to solve this dilemma involved the creation of a series of Army Reserve medical exercises, dubbed Global Medic, that provides the medical community with a functional venue to refine and advance a broad range of medical skills, including the myriad skill sets associated with a CSH.
Formerly conducted as independent exercises, in 2011 the chief of the Army Reserve directed the merger of the Global Medic functional exercise series with a series of ongoing Army Reserve tactical exercises called Warrior Exercise (WAREX).
One of the combined events took place at California’s Fort Hunter Liggett in June 2012, when Global Medic 2012 was combined with the Army Reserve’s 91st Training Division WAREX.