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Cablegate: Milgroup Bogota (1) -- Helping Soldiers Save Lives

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2290/01 0991954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091954Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3947
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8864
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR LIMA 4928
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0161
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5561
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP ADMIN/CHAIRS//
RUETIAA/CSG SOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002290

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR CO
SUBJECT: MILGROUP BOGOTA (1) -- HELPING SOLDIERS SAVE LIVES

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Summary
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1. (U) The Combat Life Saver (CLS) course is one of a broad
range of hands-on training programs provided by the U.S.
military to the Colombian Army (COLAR). CLS gives medics and
field soldiers essential skills to stabilize wounded soldiers
on the battlefield until they can be evacuated. Several
episodes of combat, accident, and illness already testify to
the benefits of CLS in saving soldiers' lives; over the long
term it will help the COLAR reduce mortality, improve
battlefield morale, and increase combat effectiveness. End
Summary.

2. (U) This is the first in a series of cables profiling
activities of the U.S. Military Group in Colombia. Its
missions (Army, Navy, Air Force, Logistic, and Air Component
Coordination Element) provide material assistance in
equipment and cooperation to the respective service arms of
the COLMIL. Its Planning and Assistance Training Teams
(PATTs) are units of two or three U.S. military personnel
co-located with the Colombian Military, providing field
training in combat skills and advisory guidance to commanders
and staff.

----------------------------
Soldiers as First Responders
----------------------------

3. (U) The Combat Life Saver course was developed to
increase battlefield survival rates for Colombian soldiers
wounded in combat. Due to limited mobility and on-site
medical personnel, soldiers in combat must be stabilized
where they are wounded for prolonged periods until they can
be evacuated and treated. Historically soldiers have not
been well trained in evaluating a patient, checking vital
signs, treating for shock, or stopping bleeding. They have
not had proper materials for splinting fractures and
bandaging wounds. Many wounded soldiers arrived at
dispensaries with trash bags or bloody towels on dirty
wounds, or with poorly made field splints. With CLS
training, targeted especially to the counter-guerrilla
battalions who undertake most offensive combat, soldiers can
now be the first line of treatment for wounded personnel.

---------------------------------
Fundamentals of Tactical Medicine
---------------------------------

4. (U) The CLS course teaches COLAR combat medics and aidmen
the basic principles of tactical medicine throughout all
phases of a combat mission. Its three main subject areas are
care under fire, tactical field care, and combat casualty
evacuation care. These include hemorrhage control, airway
management, the treatment of gunshot and shrapnel wounds,
intravenous fluid resuscitation, triage, and air / ground
evacuation. Combat medics are also taught health protection
measures and limited primary care skills. Training
culminates with a field exercise in which they must
demonstrate both individual and team level medical skills.
To date PATTs have given CLS training to 572 COLAR personnel,
who can now care for trauma patients on the battlefield and
thereby increase the combat effectiveness of their units.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Saving Lives -- in Combat, Accidents, and Illness
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) Since its launch last year, the PATTs' Combat Life
Saver course has already earned its name in saving lives --
not just in combat but also in cases of accidents and
ordinary illnesses which have historically depleted the
COLAR's fighting strength:

- In one brigade, CLS training and supplies directly saved
the lives of more than 20 soldiers wounded in combat or by
land mines in the last four months. Doctors at headquarters
say battlefield stabilization care has improved dramatically,
with patients now arriving at the hospital with cleanly
bandaged wounds and proper splints.

- When a grenade was accidentally shot into a mess tent,
killing two soldiers and wounding 24, a physician arrived on
the scene to find soldiers already administrating first aid
to the casualties. The doctor said the soldiers' CLS skills
were the key factor in the survival of the 24.

- 16 women and children wounded by a detonation of ordinance
were treated by soldiers for massive trauma, open abdominal
wounds, and fractures similar to those simulated in their CLS
trauma module.

- In the midst of a CLS session, medics in training assisted
in treatment and evacuation of three soldiers with multiple
gunshot wounds. The students were credited with the rescue
of the most severely wounded soldier.

- Preventative medicine procedures have been extremely
beneficial in keeping units up to strength. Previously many
soldiers were unfit for combat due to ordinary illnesses like
fever, diarrhea, infected cuts, or stomach viruses. Medics
were not equipped with basic medication, nor did they have
the knowledge to treat minor daily ailments. Since the
training, the number of sick soldiers has fallen drastically
while returns to duty have risen.

Drucker

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