Doctors for Peace

Medicine has a mission of granting health to people, and borders do not exist for carrying out this mission. The Armenian-American military medical cooperation has a long-term history; joint scientific conferences, training courses allow for introducing the experience and knowledge of American specialists into our military medical service, highlighting once again the importance of the partnership FOR PEACE.

A few days ago, a training course held in accordance with the American program on preparing the teaching and commanding staff of the Combat Medic School was launched in Yerevan within the framework of the Armenian-American military medical cooperation.

Colonel Tigran Avetisyan, Deputy Head of Military-Medical Department told us during the interview:

– We learned from the two World Wars and the Nagorno Karabakh war that morbidity rate among casualties significantly increased due to failure to sort out the casualties, incorrect provision or delay of first aid. This is the reason why now the Military-Medical Department of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia has set up a task – in conditions of relative peace – to develop the first, I would rather say, level of military medical service (when studying the provision of medical service in military units we have arrived at a conclusion that soldiers first report to medics about their health complaints).

Previously, biannual training courses were held in garrison hospitals and ABG’s, involving enlisted company medics who served in military units. However, these one-month training courses were not sufficient for preparing skilful junior and middle-level medical staff. With a view to develop this area, we turned to our American partners who offered their model of combat medic training. A decision was made to apply it in Armenia as well. Davit Tonoyan, First Deputy Minister of Defense had a great contribution to the program implementation while regulating the legal aspects in the negotiation process.

The instructors’ team has arrived from the U.S., bringing with them the appropriate logistic base. The training manuals are designed according to the standard format used in member states of NATO. They have been translated into Armenian and distributed to all the participants of the training course. Taking into account some structural differences between the U.S. and RA armed forces, some of the provisions included in the program have been modified, revised, and adjusted to our own reality.

The training participants were selected through a competition procedure: an interview was held with participation of Colonel Kamavor Khachatryan, Head of Military-Medical Department of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and the deputy heads thereof. Decisions were made, taking into account the educational level of each participant, the employment and service record, personality traits, and physical details. They include heads of regiment medical service, heads of battalion medical units, and medics of peacekeeping forces who have previously been on peacekeeping missions, i.e. people with a serious experience behind (here, I should mention that the U. S. instructors’ team also highly appreciate their involvement, preparedness, and scientific potential). When the Combat Medic School opens in Armenia, the participants of this training course will become the instructing and commanding staff of the School.

The overall duration of the training course is 16 weeks; theoretical lectures encompassing all the stages of medical assistance will be followed by hands-on trainings to be held in the Central Clinical Military Hospital of the Ministry of Defense (today, the Hospital can provide for all the conditions required for the best performance of these activities), as well as in field conditions, in the airport, and in a helicopter.

We highly appreciate the tremendous experience and knowledge of our American partners and attach great importance to cooperation with them, which, indeed, contributes to the development of military medical service in Armenia.

The military personnel who had arrived from the U.S. responded to our request for an interview with great willingness to listen and answer our questions. Major Aaron Cummings, Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation, introduced Master Sergeant Efrem Dicochea, officer-in-charge of the program, Captain Chris Hudson who is in charge of the instructors’ team, and Major Robert Gayle, instructor. Meanwhile, sergeants first class Ross Geller, Victor Miranda, Dallas Scrivner, and Sean Segroves were holding the training. It was interesting and informative for us to hear their opinion on and assessment of Armenian-American military medical cooperation.

Major Aaron Cummings, Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation, noted:

– In cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, our Office developed an educational system which would assist Armenia in addressing a most essential issue – training of combat medics. We presented in detail how combat medics are trained in the U.S., discussed what our Armenian colleagues would like us to emphasize more while holding the training course. The answer we received from them was, “Everything, complete information”. I have to be honest, we were extremely pleased to hear this; we saw absolute commitment on behalf of our partner.

Now we use the same curriculum for the training participants as we do back home in the U.S. This is a comprehensive training process where we use various equipments and didactic materials to make it more impressive and interesting. Those equipments and materials are brought from the U.S. not for sole application at the training course but also for further use while teaching young students at the Combat Medic School. Our goal is not to teach the training participants (I see they have rather broad and profound knowledge) but to train them to be instructors, and this requires appropriate requisite conditions.

The military personnel holding the training course have been instructors in U.S. military medical educational institutions, have taken special courses on training combat medics, are experienced and have a distinct curriculum.

My questions followed one another, and each of the military personnel knew – as if by an internal, irrevocable agreement, best described as COMPETENCE – which question he was to answer… They admired the knowledge base of the training participants, the honest and hearty personality of the Armenian people.

By the end of our interview Major Aaron Cummings, Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation, added:

– Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Armenia in various fields has been a fact through years, and the implementation of this military medical program is another step to strengthen the existing constructive relations between the two countries.

Armenian-American cooperation bears international importance as well; Armenia sends troops to Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kosovo, and other countries with a PEACEKEEPING MISSION. Supporting the development of one of the most important components of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia – combat medics system, we also ensure their highly qualified, skilful performance while on peacekeeping missions outside Armenia.

Edita Melkonyan

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