Over the past 10 years, the Army has embraced modularity, replacing functional brigades with bri-gade combat teams. Supporting branches have also embraced modularity, but many branch modular formations do not allow for the deployment of battalion-level or company-level headquarters. Many branches instead deploy units in detachments or teams. This is particularly true of the Adjutant General’s Corps.
The Adjutant General’s Corps previously had battalion-level formations in the form of personnel support battalions. However, the personnel support battalions have been inactivated and human resources (HR) companies have been created. These companies are designed to conduct three primary missions: casualty liaison at level III medical treatment facilities, postal operations, and reception, replacement, return to duty, rest and recuperation, and redeployment (R5).
Early in Operation Iraqi Freedom, HR companies deployed as company-level organizations. However, over the past 5 years, many HR companies have been tasked to deploy platoons and teams to meet specific needs in the Iraqi theater. That made providing training for two- or three-man teams and platoons a challenge for the companies to manage.
HR companies depended on Silver Scimitar, a Reserve component training event, to train for deployment. Silver Scimitar usually is conducted twice a year at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. This training event certifies each HR company to ensure that it is trained to standard for its deployment. It is imperative that local commanders create training events for their subordinate platoons and teams before they attend Silver Scimitar.
CLT Situational Training Exercise
In order to train the casualty liaison teams (CLTs) for deployment, the 502d HR Company, 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, participated in its first combined CLT situational training exercise on 25 August 2011. The training was a 1-day event that tested the unit’s skills in conducting and providing support for casualties in theater. As a platoon leader and planner for the training exercise, I coordinated the event with personnel from the 1st Medical Brigade and the Fort Hood Medical Simulation Training Center.
The training included 50 personnel from the 502d HR Company and 10 from the 1st Medical Brigade. The emphasis was on placing the CLT within the patient administration section to act as a liaison for the military and civilian patients in the theater and to initiate the casualty notification process to the patients’ next of kin.
Two noncommissioned officers were the subject-matter experts who evaluated the teams. Both were HR company members and veterans of CLT operations in the Iraqi theater. Each team had to be able to obtain accurate information from each casualty, enter the information into the Defense Casualty Information Processing System (DCIPS), and send an initial report.
A Mass Casualty Scenario
The Fort Hood Medical Simulation Training Center provided realistic scenarios that placed Soldiers in stressful situations and allowed them to interact with doctors and nurses while trying to receive information about a casualty. The center’s staff simulated a mass casualty scenario that resembled chaos in a theater hospital. When patients arrived at the theater hospital, a CLT member would speak with each patient and obtain as much information as possible about the incident.
As soon as the doctor gave his diagnosis of the severity of the patient’s injuries, the CLT member completed and sent a DCIPS folder report to the Department of the Army or the patient’s service component so that his next of kin could be notified. After the report was sent, the CLT made hourly checks to the intensive-care ward or unit to check on the patient’s status or, in the case of more critical patients, stability.
With the cooperation of CLT veterans, the 1st Medical Brigade, and the Fort Hood Medical Simulation Training Center, the CLTs were trained for CLT operations in the theater. The expertise of the veterans enabled us to certify the teams on their core competence and technical skills using the DCIPS, which is the Army system of record. We also took advantage of Fort Hood’s deployment programs to ensure that the teams were trained on tactical skills also required for deployment. Because each team consisted of five Soldiers, it was advantageous to use the individual replacement training program to train them on their tactical skills.
With the combination of the situational training exercise lanes and individual replacement training, the battalion commander was able to certify the teams for deployment. As we move forward in the future, this combination of training will serve all small teams. The Army has major training events for large formations. However, local commanders must develop training opportunities for smaller units and certify those units for deployment to hostile environments.