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Language-enabled Airmen support inaugural medical readiness exercise in Angola

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry
  • Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team

Language-enabled Airmen from the Air Force Culture and Language Center utilized their culture and language skills to support a historic medical readiness exercise between the United States and Angola, known as MEDREX.

MEDREX, a medical training exercise planned and executed by the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, allows military health specialists from the U.S. Army and African partner nations to address complex medical challenges. It also creates a space to exchange medical practices, procedures, and techniques to build and strengthen treatment capabilities. 

“The National Defense Strategy calls for developing a force with the skills and abilities to solve complicated challenges in a complex global environment. This simply cannot be accomplished without language and culture skills,” AFCLC Director Howard Ward said. “When called on for events like MEDREX to help solve complex medical challenges, our language-enabled Airmen are prepared for integration with allies and partners, which is key to enabling Agile Combat Employment.”

ACE relies heavily on multi-capable Airmen postured for utilization and equipped with the skills needed to adapt, act, and thrive in complex environments.

Lt. Col. Shahn Rashid, Capt. Enrique Villegas Gonzalez, Capt. Phillip Walker, and Tech. Sgt. Jorge Neverez Coronado were among the team of multi-capable Airmen sent from the Language Enabled Airman Program via a Training Partnership Request to support this inaugural event.

“It’s an honor for us to contribute to this important mission and also show the value of LEAP,” Lt. Col Rashid said. “We realize [language] skills are perishable if you don’t use them, so we look forward to increased participation as we build these partnerships.”

According to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 357th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Detachment, “LEAP Scholars provided invaluable language translation, allowing the medical teams to communicate and perform complex and often life-sustaining medical procedures.”

LEAP Scholars played an integral role in facilitating the integration of the medical teams and overcoming language and cultural barriers during the event to strengthen partnerships and improve the delivery of medical care to patients in Angola.

“We come from different places, but we all speak the same language, which is medicine,” said Angolan Armed Forces hospital civilian general surgeon Dr. Jessica Sanches Campos Corujo. “I am very grateful for this opportunity to work with the team from the U.S. and discuss alternative methods and techniques. This exchange makes all of us better and improves the way we deliver medical care to our patients.”

LEAP Scholars also witnessed and supported the first American performing surgery in Angola.

“This is one for the history books. We were able to scrub in on the first American performing surgery in the country of Angola,” Lt. Col. Rashid explained. “We were interpreting for Angolan and Cuban doctors from Portuguese to English. One never knows where LEAP will lead you.”

According to the Southern European Task Force, Africa, MEDREX Angola is the first of six medical readiness exercises scheduled for FY2023 in Africa.