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Maryland Guard Takes Part in U.S. Africa Command Exercise
For the first time since U.S. Africa Command stood up on October 1, the National Guard sent service members to Africa to provide desperately needed medical care. <br />Maryland National Guard doctors, dentists and other medical professionals spent
For the first time since U.S. Africa Command stood up on October 1, the National Guard sent service members to Africa to provide desperately needed medical care.
Maryland National Guard doctors, dentists and other medical professionals spent two weeks in Senegal in support of a 14-nation exercise called Exercise Flintlock, which concluded November 20, 2008.

The Maryland Guard medical team based at Camp Fretterd in Reisterstown, Md., was led by Colonel John V. Gladden, state surgeon, who said this type of training mission is exactly what the Guard needs to be doing.

"It teaches us how to do things outside our specialty, how to work together," said Gladden about his team, who treated nearly 1,600 Senegalese patients.
Gladden, who has worked in eight previous medical exercises in his career, said the working and living conditions in Africa were the most austere he had ever seen, but his fellow teammates were professionals under the toughest of circumstances.
"Nobody got flustered," said Gladden. "We knew there were limitations on what we could do to treat some of these patients, but nobody dwelled on this being a less-than-perfect outcome."

The two-week exercise was developed as a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination.

"This was a perfect fit," said Sergeant 1st Class Kenneth McGill, the operations sergeant for the Maryland Guard medical detachment who organized the training mission.
"We had the professional talent, and they had everything we needed to do the job," said McGill.

"Having an opportunity like this, even in the civilian world, is rare."
More than 200 people participated in Flintlock, as part of U.S. Africa Command's Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara, which provides military support to State Department programs that, together, aim to enhance regional security in Africa.

Although this was a first-ever mission for the National Guard in an African country, the Guard has a long-standing State Partnership Program, which was designed to build relationships with emerging democracies by pairing states and U.S. territories with more than 59 countries around the world.

"This is a terrific opportunity for our soldiers to take their military and civilian skills and apply them in a real-world training environment, while at the same time helping the people of the republic of Senegal," said Brigadier General Alberto Jimenez, commander of the Maryland Army National Guard. "This exercise is a continuation of the ongoing efforts by the Maryland National Guard in support of emerging democracies in countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia and now Senegal."

Former Maryland assistant adjutant general Army Major General Edward Leacock, now deputy director of the Intelligence and Knowledge Development Division at U.S. Africa Command, said the exercise "set a strong precedent for future U.S. Africa Command engagements where the U.S. military will actively seek the partnership of stakeholders to meet common challenges."

McGill said Gladden and his medical team's mission didn't end when the last patient left the clinic. The Guard team left behind all excess medical supplies and equipment for future use by the Senegalese government.


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