Support our mission
 
Servicemembers from 3rd Medical Battalion stand ready to enter the "gas chamber" Friday on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. More than 230 sailors and Marines were participating in Solar Challenge, a weeklong exercise that allowed 3rd Medical Battalion personnel to refresh their war-fighting skills.
Servicemembers from 3rd Medical Battalion stand ready to enter the "gas chamber" Friday on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. More than 230 sailors and Marines were participating in Solar Challenge, a weeklong exercise that allowed 3rd Medical Battalion personnel to refresh their war-fighting skills. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Servicemembers from 3rd Medical Battalion stand ready to enter the "gas chamber" Friday on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. More than 230 sailors and Marines were participating in Solar Challenge, a weeklong exercise that allowed 3rd Medical Battalion personnel to refresh their war-fighting skills.
Servicemembers from 3rd Medical Battalion stand ready to enter the "gas chamber" Friday on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. More than 230 sailors and Marines were participating in Solar Challenge, a weeklong exercise that allowed 3rd Medical Battalion personnel to refresh their war-fighting skills. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
A sailor stands watch at the corner of a building Friday in "Combat Town" in one of Camp Hansen, Okinawa’s training areas.
A sailor stands watch at the corner of a building Friday in "Combat Town" in one of Camp Hansen, Okinawa’s training areas. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
A sailor stands security as an "injured" servicemember is evacuated from the area Friday.
A sailor stands security as an "injured" servicemember is evacuated from the area Friday. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
A Marine instructor, center, leads sailors from 3rd Medical Battalion in push-ups in the Camp Hansen, Okinawa, gas chamber Friday.
A Marine instructor, center, leads sailors from 3rd Medical Battalion in push-ups in the Camp Hansen, Okinawa, gas chamber Friday. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Servicemembers carry out a "wounded" servicemember during small-unit evacuation training at Camp Hansen.
Servicemembers carry out a "wounded" servicemember during small-unit evacuation training at Camp Hansen. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — Insurgents “attacked” a group of servicemembers here Friday, killing and injuring several sailors.

The remaining troops planned the evacuation of the dead and wounded, while guarding against further attack.

The weeklong training scenario in “combat town” was meant to refresh fighting skills of Navy medical personnel and Marines assigned to the 3rd Medical Battalion.

About 230 people participated in Exercise Solar Challenge, including between 50 and 75 Marines attached to the unit.

The training included nuclear, biological and chemical weapons training, weapons familiarization, land navigation, and communications skills.

“We’re concentrating on the fact that part of the job is to provide care, but also to defend patients against harm,” said Navy Lt. James Perry, operations officer for the battalion. “In a worst-case situation, you don’t want that to be the first time they pick up a weapon.”

Medical personnel carry a 9 mm pistol as the standard weapon in a combat situation, Perry said.

For some of those going through the training, it was their first time to pick one up.

“Shooting the 9 mm was the toughest thing to do … I’ve never shot one before,” said Seaman Charles Brickner, who works at the Futenma Medical Clinic. Brickner said he is now confident with the weapon.

Fellow Seaman Trent Riley, a corpsman at Camp Hansen’s “Bravo” Clinic, agreed.

“Aiming in at 25 yards is not my strong point,” Riley said.

The servicemembers also learned about basic convoy operations, including how to load vehicles and react to attacks.

“For the time allotted, it was good training,” said Riley, who added he would have liked to have slept in the field for the week. “We went over a lot things that we haven’t done before … especially those people that haven’t been in the Navy long.”

The servicemembers also practiced rear area security, including correctly patting down prisoners of war and even friendly troops.

“We don’t know what they might have tucked away,” Perry said.

Many who participated have received this type of training before in schools, Perry said, but they could go years before refreshing their skills. With fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s important to keep battle skills current, Perry said.

“Everything we did this week, I can imagine us using in country,” Riley said.

As medical personnel that could be attached to infantry units, it’s important for them to know how to react to ambushes and call for medical evacuations, he said.

“We definitely learned a lot of practical things geared toward what you really have to do,” Brickner said. “It was good training … a lot of stuff we don’t get to do at all at the hospital.”

Migrated
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up