FORT POLK, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital conducted the bi-annual Forge Training Exercise Oct. 27-29 at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Col. Aristotle Vaseliades, BJACH Commander, said this was the third FTX conducted since he took command in June 2021.
Vaseliades said while Soldiers can use the hospital as a training platform to hone their medical skills daily, the FTX adds another element.
“We utilize the Forge events to put Soldiers in austere environments that are more like what they would face in a war time scenario," he said. “It’s imperative for Soldiers to be able to perform their war time mission under any conditions in order to support Army requirements.”
Vaseliades said the mission of BJACH is to maintain a medically ready and ready medical force by providing training and support to JRTC and Fort Polk, and all beneficiaries through a responsive force focused on enhanced readiness, force health protection and providing health service support.
“Medically Ready means we are physically ready to deploy if needed. Soldiers have completed their personal medical readiness (health assessments, immunizations, and hearing),” he said. “A ready medical force is one that is trained and proficient in their respective military occupational specialty or area of concentration critical tasks. These are the things they are expected to perform in a war time environment. It also implies that Soldiers can survive on the battlefield and execute basic Soldier skills.”
For this FTX, the focus was on Army Warrior Tasks.
“If a medical Soldier cannot first survive on the battlefield, they won’t be able to treat a casualty and perform their medical mission,” Vaseliades said.
Brady Kornelis, noncommissioned officer in charge of the BJACH Emergency Department was instrumental in the coordination and execution of the Forge.
“My biggest challenge in coordinating this event was predicting and having contingencies in place for bad weather,” he said. “For the next event I will establish a stricter timeline for getting supplies, personnel and tasks locked in.”
The event was planned in a competition-like format.
“The competition encompassed all Soldiers broken down into 13 squads. They were tested against 13 Army Warrior Tasks, land navigation and a ruck sack inspection to verify if they followed the packing list,” he said. “Each activity was worth 100 points, for a total of 1500 points for the whole competition, but I cannot reveal the winners yet.”
Kornelis said the event not only tested skills but built esprit-de-corps.
“The squads were broken down by rank and where individuals worked,” he said. “The Forge had personnel from the hospital, the veterinary and both dental clinics participating. The squads were split up to encourage everyone to get out and meet other Soldiers who they may have not worked with before. To me this was the most valuable aspect of the training.”
Capt. Aaron Judson, chief of Louisiana Branch Veterinary Services attended the BJACH Forge.
“I thought it was a well planned and executed event,” he said. “It was valuable training and I look forward to participating in the future.”
Judson said as a veterinarian it’s important to get out and do field training exercises.
“It is important for all medical personnel to be more proficient in our Army Warrior Tasks,” he said. “It is also important to familiarize ourselves with performing our normal medical tasks in combat situations with our fellow medical providers and the medical community.”
Judson said the Army Warrior Task lanes was his favorite part of the FTX.
Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux, senior enlisted advisor for BJACH said the event was well received by all.
“The professionalism and high standards set forth by Sgt. 1st Class Kornelis, NCOIC and Capt. Kelvin Cook, officer in charge were the reason for the success of the BJACH Forge,” she said. “The relevance and realism that was inserted into this exercise, ensured our Soldiers left with an optimal training experience.”
Devereaux said Kornelis is a true professional.
“He understood the commander’s intent and executed training based on regulatory guidance and principles,” she said. “As an NCO and trainer of Soldiers, he clearly organized, resourced, and executed this event above and beyond the standard.”
Devereaux said she is proud of her Soldiers.
“Our Soldiers love to train, especially outside of the hospital,” she said. “I heard nothing but positive feedback from every Soldier I spoke to. Our Soldiers truly understand that U.S. Army Medical Command is a premier organization that is relevant and responsive. These Soldiers are unique in the sense that they all possess skills that save lives. Practicing those skills in a training environment outside of the fixed facility, is paramount to bringing the warfighters home."
Devereaux said her Soldiers train to shoot, move, medicate and survive on the battlefield.