14th MDG sharpens skills with 223rd Engineer Battalion

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Peyton Craven
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The 14th Medical Group (MDG) partnered with soldiers from the 223rd Engineer Battalion, Mississippi Army National Guard, to carry out a joint readiness exercise May 18, 2023. The exercise focused on refining casualty evacuation abilities and familiarizing Airmen with medical contingency operations in a joint environment.

Maj. Andrew Walker, executive officer for the 223rd Engineer Battalion, led Army personnel in administering the training for the 14th MDG. The team of Airmen and Soldiers began the training with land navigation basics, pace counts and compass orientation. The capstone event of the exercise showcased the interoperability of both teams utilizing their newly sharpened skills to efficiently recover, evaluate and load patients into ambulatory Humvees to simulate operations in a deployed environment. 

The exercise provided both organizations with the opportunity to achieve training objectives that ensures readiness across the joint environment.

“For both sides, I think it was very important that we got the experience to teach, at the same time providing Air Force personnel with the opportunity to learn skill sets that they may not have much experience with,” said Walker. “As we move to prepare for joint fighting in future conflicts, it’s incredibly important to ‘reach across the aisle’ and develop that relationship between the Army and Air Force. If we can’t do the basics, we can’t master the hard stuff.”

Col. James Weinstein, 14th MDG commander, also weighed in on the importance of exercises such as these.

“In previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, we trained our Air Force needs very well, but when we landed there, it was all about operating in the joint environment,” said Weinstein. “We asked our medics to do things that we never trained for, like getting on and off a helicopter, loading a patient onto a helicopter, or an Army ambulance.”

Weinstein focused on developing those joint skills for the 14th MDG to ensure that Airmen are prepared for future deployments.

“We reinforced the idea that a joint environment will ask things of our medics that are outside of traditional roles,” he said. “We are going to need them to think creatively and innovatively to solve problems.”

This exercise wasn’t the last for the 14th MDG and 223rd Engineer Battalion. Both organizations plan to continue the newly cemented partnership and have ambitions for more training opportunities.

“Later in the summer, we are expecting to hold a full-scale exercise, where we will invite our Wing partners like Security Forces and Firefighters to participate,” said Weinstein. “We really want to not only continue training on our required skills, familiarize our team with operations around aircraft, specifically helicopters. We are looking forward to helping the Army meet some of their training requirements and incorporate some rotary-wing aircraft in our exercises.”

With the 14th MDG being closed every third Thursday of the month, the group has ample opportunity to continue developing world-class Airmen.

“We are super appreciative of the 223rd Engineer Battalion for the expertise they brought to the exercise,” said Weinstein. “We are building a problem-solving mindset in our Airmen that is absolutely critical to the next fight, and they hit a homerun.”