CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines and sailors with I Marine Expeditionary Force and 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, attended a demining and casualty-care training exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 15-19.
The training is the first step to prepare service members for a United States Pacific Command Humanitarian Mine Action Program mission taking place in July in Vietnam.
The mission of the HMA is to teach locals how to dispose of the mines safely and care for any casualties that may occur. More than 25,000 explosives were dropped in Vietnam during the war and many of the weapons never detonated, which causes a significant health risk for locals.
“This training is very important,” said Maj. William Nash, the HMA program manager with I Marine Expeditionary Force. “It builds capabilities throughout the countries we’re focusing on, specifically in this case South East Asia.”
Topics of the training included hypodermic needle disposal, tactical combat casualty care and the use of the demining kit. Brian W. Cavolt, CEO of JBC Corp., provided displays and training on the latest medical and safety products available to service members conducting demining missions.
“When something new comes out, I try to bring it to[the services], show it to them, and ask them what scenarios it will work for,” Covalt said. “They’re winning the hearts and minds. I’m happy to be involved in such an excellent program.”
All service members who participate in the HMA Program must be tactical combat casualty care qualified. They undergo extensive training that is beneficial when training foreign nationals.
“We’re just jumping in feet first here,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Beale, the officer in charge of the advisory training group at 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group. “We’re getting trained up and ready to go. Once the mission comes down, we will be ready.”
In January 1997, the late Princess Diana visited Angola, a heavy mine-affected area and brought global awareness to the dangerously high amount of mines and explosives around the world. One month later, the United States established the Humanitarian Mine Action Program and has since visited dozens of countries to aid in the training of tactical combat casualty care and the removal and disposal of explosives. This HMA mission to Vietnam is the first for I Marine Expeditionary Force and opens the door for operations with other countries.
“This training isn’t just meant for Vietnam,” said Elizabeth Colina, the branch head for health services at G-4, Marine Forces Pacific. “This is also intended to train I MEF for future theater security-operation engagements for Marine Forces Pacific.”