DJIBOUTI, Djibouti – Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, took part in the first-ever port exercise to include the Djibouti Port Authority, Dec. 19.
The exercise, held at the Port of Djibouti, integrated U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Djibouti Port Authority assets in a joint setting in order to cement relationships, exchange expertise and build camaraderie.
“The purpose was to synch up coordination between Navy Combat Riverine Squadron 8, Bravo Company, Delta Company, and all three command posts at Camp Lemonnier,” said Texas National Guard 1st Lt. Brandon Wells, exercise operations officer, Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, Task Force Alamo, Texas National Guard, deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Djibouti.
“We want to increase communication, strengthen battle drills and standardize operating procedures for a quick reaction out here at the port in the event of a hostile incident,” Wells added.
During the exercise, medical personnel participated in a casualty evacuation simulation that tested response time in case of a combat injury.
While the overall exercise was a success, there were challenges like coordinating communication between the different commands and getting information back to Camp Lemonnier, Wells said.
“There were a lot of hurdles to jump over with this being the first time in the history of Camp Lemonnier that we actually conducted an exercise off post,” Wells said. “There were a lot of new policies and approvals both from our command and Djibouti.”
During an actual incident, medical personnel will have to work fast to minimize casualties. The first hour is the most important, which medical personnel refer to as “The Golden Hour,” according to Texas National Guard Pfc. Juan Cortez, a health care specialist, with Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, Task Force Alamo, Texas National Guard, deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Djibouti.
“After that first hour, the chances of patient survival become slim,” Cortez said. “This is a team dynamic; you can’t do stuff like this alone. We worked together and operated quickly and efficiently. The most important thing is to keep patients safe, working together, ensures a higher rate of survival and better care for a patient.”
According to Wells, the most important part of the exercise was not just the information exchange, but also the forging of relationships.
“That’s the biggest reward, knowing we can protect lives, save lives, here at the Port of Djibouti,” Wells added. “All you have to do is establish relationships.”