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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2023

Army Reserve medic visits Kenya during exercise Justified Accord 2023

By Capt. Joe Legros U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

U.S. Army Sgt. Craig Barrows grew up in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, and now resides in St. Michael, near Minneapolis. He currently serves as a combat medic with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 345th Medical Company Ground Ambulance based in Des Moines, Iowa. The unit was recently formed a little over a year ago and provides combat medical evacuation and care through all phases of military operations.

During exercise Justified Accord 2023 (JA23), hosted by the Kenyan Defence Forces, Barrows provides basic first aid and over-the-counter medications to help Soldiers overcome minor illnesses and injuries. If more serious treatment is necessary, his team coordinates with other medical professionals and can evacuate those with serious injuries to clinics with greater treatment capacity.

“I’ve been deployed a few times during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,” shared Barrows. “My unit and I also deployed to multiple states within the U.S. during the COVID outbreak, setting up a 500-bed hospital to treat COVID patients.”

“But I’ve never been to Africa,” he added.

He shared that he always wanted to visit the African continent and loves seeing different cultures.

“For me, anytime I get a chance to see something new in the Army, I jump at the chance,” he said. “The exercise planners needed an experienced enlisted Soldier to provide guidance to the younger service members, and I’m grateful I was their choice.”

Barrows shared there is usually still snow on the ground where he lives this time of year, so it has been a shock to his system to conduct operations in near 100 degree temperatures (38 degrees Celsius).

“Yes, it’s still very cold where I come from in the midwestern U.S.,” he added. “But what makes this experience special is that everyone is so nice and very welcoming. It has been a great integration with all the coalition forces, making it easy to work together.”

While Kenya is the host country for JA23, approximately 1,000 Soldiers from 18 partner nations representing four continents are participating in this year’s exercise.

“It’s great not just for our military training, but on a personal level as well. I’ve made so many connections with people on this side of the world,” he added.

Barrows said he wants to give a shout out to his parents, as well as his wife and two children, waiting for him back in Minn.

He added, “It won’t be too much longer before I’m back home with my family to enjoy the rest of winter.”

JA23 is U.S. Africa Command’s largest exercise in East Africa. Led by U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), this multinational exercise brings together nearly 20 countries from four continents to increase partner readiness for peacekeeping missions, crisis response and humanitarian assistance.​