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NEWS | June 23, 2016

Joint Services/Multinational Engagement- A Force that Trains Together, Fights Together

By Spc. Fatima Konteh 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif., June 18, 2016 – Thousands of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are currently participating in the three-week Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) 91-16-02, but they are not alone. U.S. Navy Sailors, as well as German and Canadian service members travelled to Fort Hunter Liggett, California, to assist with this hands-on training. 

As the largest U.S. Army Reserve training exercise, CSTX 91-16-02 provides Soldiers with unique opportunities to sharpen their technical and tactical skills in combat-like conditions. The 325th Combat Support Hospital (CSH), Independence, Missouri, set up a CSH for training scenarios and capitalized on the opportunity to house and train two U.S. Navy Sailors throughout the exercise.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Chrismus Mercy, originally from Kenya, and Petty Officer 3rd Class, Julio Calderinserrano, originally from Puerto Rico, both corpsman, Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) Dallas One, Fort Worth, Texas, were part of the surgical team who operated on a Human Worn Partial Task Surgical Simulator, commonly known as a cut-suit.

Mercy, who is an environmental health officer in Phoenix, Arizona, said he greatly enjoyed working alongside his U.S. Army Reserve counterparts. 

“It has given me a good perspective of the military because, in the Navy, we sometimes think only about the Navy and see the Army as so different,” said Mercy. “When working as a joint force you realize there are no distinctions. We are all in the military. We uphold the same standards and enforce a teamwork mentality.”

“Joint operations solidifies the idea of one team, one fight,” added Calderinserrano.

In an effort to simulate real-world circumstances, CSTX 91-16-02 took place in a tactical training environment. Calderinserrano said this was the most exciting part for him.

“I love the morale everyone has in the field and learned how to make light of any situation, to keep things fun and interesting,” he said.

Calderinserrano, a network administrator in Las Vegas, Nevada, was surprised by how similar the U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Navy medical components are. As a corpsman, he and Mercy performs duties that are a mix between two U.S. Army Reserve careers: combat medic and combat licensed practical nurse. During their time with the 325th CSH, they focused on learning surgical techniques and equipment. 

“I learned a new skill set,” said Mercy. “Since I've never worked in an operating room before, I gained knowledge and competency, which makes me a greater asset to the Navy because now I have multiple skill sets.”

In addition to working with other services, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are collaborating with Canadian Navy Lt. Eric Baker, pharmacist, and Canadian Army Capt. Harold Rivera, combat nurse, both from Garrison Petawawa, Ottawa, Canada, as part of the team at 325th CSH during CSTX 91-16-02. These Sailors and Soldiers brought a wealth of knowledge along with them. 

Rivera, born in Nicaragua, is part of the healthcare team working alongside pharmacists, medics and doctors to provide quality patient care for service members. He deployed to Freetown, Sierra Leone, last year during the Ebola virus outbreak and worked alongside many other nations and armed forces to treat patients and educate local citizens on how to protect themselves.

“The scariest thing is that the unknown is out there,” he said. “But it is reassuring to know that, when we all come together, we know that we can depend on each other.”

Working alongside Rivera is Baker, who has spent his Navy career as a pharmacist. He is responsible for providing medications, medical consumables, and medical equipment in preparation for the field hospital to deploy. They often mobilize with U.S. service members and train the same way, he said.

“It makes deployment situations easier because we’re able to be right beside them and assist at all levels of care,” Baker added.

In the medical field, there is a level of confidence that is needed when a critical situation arises.

“You're relying on skills that you've learned,” said Baker. “No matter where you are in the world, you need to be able to provide the same level of care.”

Regardless of the uniform, branch of service, or country of origin, or country they service, the combat medical personnel at CSTX 91-16-02 all have the same mission in mind: Training to keep all service members medically fit and prepared to deploy at any time. 

“At the end of the day, the training the U.S. military has is on par with Canada and when we come together at a training exercise, we're able to demonstrate that,” said Baker. “It gives us a high level of confidence that when we deploy together, we can provide the same level of care without concerns or miscommunications.”