Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Damir Krstičević has visited British Army medics training alongside Croatian military personnel on Exercise SAVA STAR.
Some 110 Army Reservists from 254 Medical Regiment have spent the last two weeks living and working alongside 50 Croatian soldiers on the Crvena Zemlja training area in Knin, Croatia.
It was the first time a non-infantry regiment has taken part in the Exercise that until now has only been undertaken by infantry regiments.
The Croatians have been fantastic and our soldiers have really enjoyed training with them. Lieutenant Colonel Dylan Read
Over the course of the two-week deployment, the soldiers and officers, mostly reservists who are professional clinicians with jobs in the NHS and other parts of the medical community across the South East of England, completed a series of military training packages.
The first week of the exercise saw the reservists practising their trade and military skills before deploying into the field for the final four-day exercise.
Croatia’s Defence Minister joined by the UK Ambassador to Croatia, His Excellency Andrew Dalgleish, watched as the Army Reservists and Croatian infantry demonstrated their highly specialised life-saving skills that they had been practising on the exercise.
They observed as the Combat Medical Technicians (CMTs) came under direct enemy fire whilst out on patrol with the Croatian infantry. They treated and evacuated the casualty back to the tented medical treatment facility located within the patrol base for further treatment.
On arrival at the treatment facility, the ‘injured’ personnel were met by doctors and nurses who practised providing life-saving interventions before arranging for the ‘casualty’ to be evacuated off the battlefield to hospital.
Addressing the troops, Minister Krstičević said: “The exercise proves the great co-operation between our two countries. It helps develop our capabilities and helps practise team work. And together with members of the Croatian Armed Forces, you have done an excellent job.”
The aim of the exercise was to ensure the Reservists are competent and confident in their core medical and military skills and to link the reservists training with that of other NATO forces to ensure the best tactics and techniques are shared between nations.
The Commanding Officer of 254 Medical Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Dylan Read, said the exercise had been a great success and of huge benefit to the troops.
He said: “We came here to practise the Regiment’s primary role of providing medical care and to train and learn from our Croatian military colleagues. We have also gone through leadership training, clinical refreshers and field training.
“Over the course of the final exercise, they treated over 70 casualties at all times of the day and night. And just like real life, there were a variety of illnesses and injuries ranging from aches and pains to catastrophic injuries including loss of limbs and gunshot wounds.”
He continued: “The Croatians have been fantastic and our soldiers have really enjoyed training with them. It was good to have the opportunity to train alongside them in their own country. We have learnt a lot from each other.”
During the visit Her Majesty’s Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish presented The Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (VRSM) and Clasps to ten personnel from 254 Medical Regiment in recognition of long and efficient service.