Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
Dental Team Treats Patients During Medical Exercise
A six-member combined dental team from the Air Force, Army and Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force treated 55 patients during a dental civic assistance project as part of a medical exercise in Hhohho, Swaziland, August 6-7, 2009. <br /> <br />Three of
A six-member combined dental team from the Air Force, Army and Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force treated 55 patients during a dental civic assistance project as part of a medical exercise in Hhohho, Swaziland, August 6-7, 2009.

Three of the four Air Force members are assigned to the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron out of Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. The fourth, Air Force Colonel Dean Whitman is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Medical Hall, Texas, and Army Specialist Reginald Lee, 212th Combat Support Hospital dental hygienist out of Vicenza, Italy, is the fifth member of the team.

"I don't know where else I would want to be," Whitman said. "It has been an awesome experience to come to South Africa and help the people of Swaziland out."

Colonel Whitman said the team's success wouldn't happen without its sixth member, 1st Lieutenant Themba Dlamini, Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force dental hygienist and exercise MEDFLAG 09 interpreter.

"There is always some sort of language barrier when you go to another country," Whitman said. "Even though some of the villagers speak English, the majority of them speak Swahili. It has been great to have Themba interpret for us and told us what the patient's situation was. He was also critical in helping us calm the patients."

"I have really enjoyed working with my fellow U.S. dental members," Dlamini said. "Not too many fellow countrymen visit a dentist office very often, so to have Colonel Whitman and Major Kevin Hachmeister come in and extract a badly decayed tooth was a great benefit."

The six-person dental team saw 11 patients on day one and 44 patients the second day. They are scheduled to visit a village in each of the other three provinces -- Mkhwakhweni, Mafutseni and Shiselweni -- during the final week of the MEDFLAG exercise.

MEDFLAG is a joint and combined military exercise led by U.S. Army Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to improve medical disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance management. The exercise consisted of three phases: classroom training; a mass casualty exercise; and humanitarian and civic assistance events, to include medical, dental and veterinary assistance to the people of Swaziland.

The U.S. service members are in Swaziland at the invitation of the Swazi government and in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Mbabane. The exercise is an example of U.S. military's commitment to a partner relationship with the country of Swaziland.

PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS