Saturday, April 14, 2018

Making It Rain: Improving Front-Line Medical Readiness

By Marine Corps Cpl. Kyle McNan 1st Marine Logistics Group

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., April 13, 2018 — When people need medical care, time is always a factor. Service members can find themselves operating in austere environments such as disaster relief areas and forward operating bases, where transporting medical supplies can be a complex undertaking.

Transporting supplies on the ground may not be an option, so the Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Logistics Group are working with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 to drop units of blood by air to those operating in such inflexible areas.

“Currently, if you want to deliver blood, you have to put in a request at the Joint Blood Program, who will fly it to a location outside the intended area and it will then have to be transported via ground to the surgical unit that needs it,” said Navy Lt. Joshua Knapp, the deputy health service support officer for the 1st MLG’s Heath Service Support Element. “What we are hoping to do is to develop the procedures so that we can actually fly the blood to the surgical unit and drop it by air to the intended area.”

The units of blood were dropped from 500 feet by the KC-130J Super Hercules, but the personnel involved did not know if the reinforced packaging would protect the units. At 500 feet, the altitude did not have an effect on the blood; however, the units had to maintain a temperature of 32 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. With current packaging materials, units of blood are able to maintain temperatures for 48 hours.

Many Moving Parts

Many different moving parts need to fall into place for this concept to become a reality. First was getting the blood from Naval Medical Center San Diego in California to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. This was completed in an expedient manner to ensure the integrity and viability of blood units were not compromised, and that they were subject to testing shortly after being airdropped.

At MCAS Yuma, Marines with 1st, 2nd and 3rd MLG packed and prepped the blood to be dropped out of a KC-130J Super Hercules. Marines from the three logistics groups were involved to ensure training was shared across the units.

Five packaging variations were used for the air delivery. Each used materials from the authorized medical and dental allowance list and a special insulated “Collins box” to include various parachute configurations.

Once the blood landed in the intended area, Navy corpsmen with 1st MLG Health Service Support Element inspected the cases and blood bags to make sure they were still viable. They found no evidence of damage to the blood bags, and the performance of each packaging variation was recorded to document and share the details of how to successfully accomplish this air delivery technique.

Further Testing

The blood still needed to be transported back to Naval Medical Center San Diego to test if hemolysis occurred -- the rupturing or destruction of red blood cells. This can occur on impact, officials explained, so it must be tested.

Though Naval Medical Center San Diego did find hemolysis occurred in the units of blood being used in the exercise, it may have been due to the age of the blood, which was 20 days past expiration, officials said. Expired blood is used in the training to ensure viable blood is available for those in need, they explained. The medical center staff is doing more tests to determine whether the hemolysis occurred due to the blood samples being expired.

The airdrop delivery was a successful training event for all units involved. They will refine the training to make it a viable option for the Marine Corps’ logistical requirements.
“The biggest thing that came from training is education to the Marine Corps as a whole,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jacob Reichert, the air delivery operations planner for the 1st MLG. “I want Marines to hear about this and say, ‘Wow, they airdropped blood; I wonder what else we can drop?’ We want to get this training to start a huge progression in the realm of air delivery.”

Military Leaders Highlight Efforts, Challenges in Recruiting, Retention

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2018 — Senior military personnel officers today described to a House panel efforts to recruit and retain the best talent, while outlining challenges the military faces due to the competitive civilian job market.

Only one in four 17 to 24 year olds is eligible to join the Army, and one in eight has the propensity to enlist in the military, Army Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, said.

Seamands appeared before the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee for a military personnel posture hearing, along with Navy Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke, deputy chief of naval operations for manpower and personnel; Air Force Lt. Gen. Gina M. Grosso, deputy chief of staff for Air Force manpower, personnel and services; and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael A. Rocco, deputy commandant for the Marine Corps’ manpower and reserve affairs.

The military leaders thanked Congress for its support in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and the two-year budget deal.

President Donald J. Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March that includes a $160 billion boost in defense spending over two years, reversing years of decline and unpredictable funding.

Army Seeks to Grow, Develop Soldiers

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the Army to grow by 8,500 to a total force of 1,026,500 soldiers, said Seamands, noting the two-year budget deal will improve readiness to ensure the Army’s formations are filled in the years to come.

“Manning our Army is one of the key components to readiness and vital to the Army's ability to fight and win our nation's wars,” Seamands said.

To build the Army of the future, he said, the service must recruit a diverse force of highly qualified men and women. He spoke about Army efforts to grow and develop members, including embracing talent management as a way to retain the best officers and noncommissioned officers.

Challenges remain, he said, and the Army remains focused on improving readiness, as well as personal resiliency, suicide prevention, family programs and ending sexual harassment and sexual assault in the ranks.

Military’s ‘War for Talent’

Global demands upon the Navy continue to grow, which means that service will need to recruit, develop and retain highly talented people, Burke said.

"Our force structure will grow as we build the Navy the nation needs, which will require increasing end strength," he said.

However, Burke said, propensity to serve is declining and each of the services as well as the civilian sector are vying for the same limited talent pool.

"We are clearly in a war for talent,” he said.

To attract and retain the best, the Navy offers monetary and nonmonetary incentives to sailors, Burke said. Those resources include Sailor 2025, a program to improve and modernize personnel management and training systems through a number of initiatives, including family resources and opportunities for education and career advancement.

Further, the admiral said it’s an “operational imperative” for the Navy to increase its number of women in the ranks, noting recruiting messaging is geared toward this segment of the population.

Budget Addresses Air Force Pilot Shortage

The Air Force’s No. 1 priority to accelerate readiness is increasing end strength, Grosso said, adding the NDAA supports continued end strength growth.

“The growth allows the Air Force to compete, deter and win in a more competitive and dangerous international security environment,” she said.

The president’s budget increases the Air Force’s ranks to 680,400 military and civilians, an increase of 4,700 from fiscal year 2018.

While the Air Force is continuing investments in key areas to include cyber, intelligence and remotely piloted aircraft operations, Grosso explained, challenges remain in other areas.

"As you're aware our most stressed operational career field is aviation,” Grosso said. “As of October 2017, our total force pilot shortage was approximately 2,000 with the largest shortage -- 1,300 -- in our fighter pilot inventory.”

The fiscal year 2019 budget supports airmen and family readiness, she said. It also funds increased pilot production capacity, and initiatives aimed at improving pilot retention by addressing the assignment operational tempo and quality of life issues.

Lethal and Ready: U.S. Marines

Rocco listed recruiting and retaining high-quality men and women for the Marine Corps as his highest priority.

“There's a continuous challenge to keep high-quality Marines, especially in the current economy and increasingly competitive civilian job market,” he said. “This is particularly true for cyber and many of the high-tech occupations that are critical to the future of warfare.”

Incentive pay and bonuses remain vital to retention efforts, he said, pointing out to the lawmakers that the Marine Corps is open to new ways to recognize, reward and retain high-quality members.

“Marines are recruited, trained, educated and retained to win our nation's battles. They are smart, resilient, fit, disciplined and able to overcome adversity,” Rocco said. “All Marines are warfighters; they are lethal, and they are ready.”