Veterinary Service Support Team 3 of the 64th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion wrapped up the third week of a six-week training exercise known as Operation Vet Strike, Sept. 20, on Pulaski Barracks in Kaiserslautern Germany.
Seven teams – including five veterinary service support teams, one veterinary medical surgical team, and one food procurement and laboratory team – spent five days performing operations outside of Veterinary Medical Center Europe on the Pulaski installation.
The veterinary detachment completed the crawl phase of the exercise, outside of the Baumholder Veterinary Treatment Facility last year. This year’s walk phase has allowed the unit to practice shipment of containers, reservation of land, and tactical movement by convoy. In July 2020, the unit plans to execute the same concept of operation in Belgium during the run phase. Here, the safety net of a short drive home for forgotten or broken equipment will not be possible. The longer convoy and longer distance will test the unit’s leadership, equipment maintenance, and communications.
Maj. Jamie Brown, small animal surgeon and officer-in-charge of the Veterinary Medical Surgical Team during the exercise, supported the team, allowing it to perform more complicated surgeries in the relatively austere environment of the field tent.
A privately owned German shepherd dog received a spay surgery as well as a gastropexy surgery, a procedure designed to prevent the stomach from flipping – a potentially fatal complications seen in large breed dogs.
The detachment would be incomplete without its veterinary food inspectors, advised by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Nyland, a veterinary services food safety officer. Nyland and Pfc. Maxx Davis, the detachment’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, trained the veterinary food inspectors on how to use a Joint Chemical Agent Detector to detect chemical contamination of sustenance. The Soldiers reviewed standard operating procedures and regulations so that they would be able to advise commands on consumption based on packaging, storage, and the agent.
“The more resilient we are in handling these situations, the less likely our adversary is to use them against us,” Nyland said.
Operation Vet Strike helps the detachment prepare by providing complex, realistic, and challenging training in an expeditionary, field-based environment.
“We emphasize mission command and test the full spectrum of our animal health and food protection capabilities,” Lt. Col. Matthew Levine, commander of the 64th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, said. “Most impressively, our Teams successfully performed abdominal surgical procedures within our field tents, gaining confidence and proving once again that the 64th is the Nation’s premiere veterinary medical detachment, ready to meet ever-changing challenges and support the next fight.”
The 64th is designed to operate in small teams dispersed throughout the battlefield. This field operation is critical in the detachment’s exercise of its capabilities and its continued ability to complete its mission.