Photo Information

Iraqi soldiers listen as Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Ward, corpsman for Bravo Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, explains the necessary steps to take when dealing with an unconscious victim June 22-24, 2009, at Mudaysis Airfield, Iraq. Ward, along with Marines from 2nd Recon, led the Iraqi soldiers through a variety of combat lifesaving training classes during their three-day course.

Photo by Cpl. Alan Addison

2nd Recon teaches Iraqi soldiers Combat Lifesaving

6 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Alan Addison

In a combat environment, efficient medical personnel and supplies are needed in order to ensure an individual’s safe return in case of an emergency.  Without these two important details, a person’s treatable wounds may become more serious, decreasing their chance of survival. 

A Navy corpsman along with Marines from Bravo Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, trained Iraqi soldiers in various areas of combat lifesaving June 22-24, 2009, at Mudaysis Airfield, Al Anbar province, Iraq.

During the three-day course, Iraqi soldiers learned how to stop major bleeding, how to dress a wound, basic airway maintenance, as well other aspects of first aid.

“It’s very important for these guys to learn this stuff,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Ward, a corpsman with 2nd Recon.  “Coalition forces won’t always be here to assist, so all of this training will come into play when they conduct their own missions.” 

“This type of training will assist them in building up their forces and becoming a more ready unit,” said Lance Cpl. Derek Hoffman, a reconnaissance Marine with 2nd Recon.  “They will also be better at handling most situations on their own.”

Although the classes only cover the beginning stages of combat lifesaving, the Iraqi soldiers learned how to quickly respond to a life-threatening situation and administer a basic level of care.

 “I know that these classes won’t teach these guys everything about treating wounded individuals,” Ward said.  “My hope for these guys is that they learn to stop bleeding and treat certain wounds until they can get the patient to the next echelon of care.”

Not only does combat lifesaving help to assist and treat those injured on the battlefield, but it also helps other aspects of the Iraqi military.

“Their structure is a lot different from ours,” Ward said.  “Conducting instruction like this allows us to assist them in putting adequately trained guys with the groups that need them.” 

“Combat lifesaving will also help in the event that an enemy is wounded,” explained Ward.  “If they can help treat the enemy, they can get information they normally wouldn’t have access to.  Helping the enemy can also work in improving relationships.”

Hoffman added that the lifesaving skills the Iraqi’s learn will hopefully help in creating better day-to-day care for the Iraqi soldiers.

Even though the training came to an end after three short days, it doesn’t mean the work stops there. 

“We’re leaving these guys with the necessary tools needed to remain successful,” Ward commented.  “We’re giving them the outlines of the classes we’ve covered, PowerPoint presentations, as well as other hands-on material they can use.”

“Hopefully this won’t stop here,” Hoffman added.  “We know they aren’t corpsmen, but hopefully they’ll take the information we’ve taught them back to their neighboring units and help them improve their combat lifesaving skills.”

Although the language barrier seemed difficult to overcome at times, with the help of an interpreter, it appeared as if the Iraqi soldiers grabbed hold to the information taught to them.

“They’ve improved in leaps and bounds since we’ve been here,” Hoffman said.  “At first it was a little difficult, but now we can tell that they understand the material and are getting something out of the classes.”

When a man goes down in the heat of battle, a combination of steps must be taken to get him back in the fight or get him to the next level of care.  When personnel are not trained or prepared, a unit not only risks losing an operator, but they also risk losing a fellow warrior that can never be replaced.


2nd Marine Division