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Soldiers teach MEDCEUR lessons

U.S. Army Maj. Mrunal Vyas (left) and Col. Steve Katz of the Army Civil Military Operations team instructs a class during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR) Sept. 9 in Montenegro. This is Colonel Katz’s third time supporting MEDCEUR teaching the basics of emergency planning and response to partner nations. For more information, go to www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

U.S. Army Maj. Mrunal Vyas (left) and Col. Steve Katz of the Army Civil Military Operations team instructs a class during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR) Sept. 9 in Montenegro. This is Colonel Katz’s third time supporting MEDCEUR teaching the basics of emergency planning and response to partner nations. For more information, go to www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

U.S. Army Maj. Mrunal Vyas of the Army Civil Military Operations team instructs a class during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR) Sept. 9 in Montenegro. The Civil Military Operations team teaches the basics of emergency planning and response to servicemembers of the ten nations participating in the exercise. For more information, visit www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

U.S. Army Maj. Mrunal Vyas of the Army Civil Military Operations team instructs a class during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR) Sept. 9 in Montenegro. The Civil Military Operations team teaches the basics of emergency planning and response to servicemembers of the ten nations participating in the exercise. For more information, visit www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

The U.S. Army Civil Military Operations team stands with their students Sept. 9 on the grounds of Danilovgrad Army Base, Montenegro, during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR). The team teaches the basics of emergency planning and response to servicemembers of the ten nations participating in the exercise. For more information, go to www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

The U.S. Army Civil Military Operations team stands with their students Sept. 9 on the grounds of Danilovgrad Army Base, Montenegro, during the 2010 Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe (MEDCEUR). The team teaches the basics of emergency planning and response to servicemembers of the ten nations participating in the exercise. For more information, go to www.usafe.af.mil/medceur.asp and www.odbrana.gov.me. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Jeff Gabel)

DANILOVGRAD ARMY BASE, Montenegro -- Most participants in the Medical Training Exercise in Central & Eastern Europe deploy from Europe-based units.

One group of soldiers, however, comes all the way from New York.

The seven-member U.S. Army Civil-Military Operations team, based at Fort Wadsworth, N.Y., supports MEDCEUR by teaching servicemembers of partner nations the basics of emergency planning and response and providing civil operations staff during the live portion of the exercise.

"Our unit has been supporting MEDCEUR for several years now," said Team Chief Col. Steve Katz, who is supporting MEDCEUR for the third time this year. "At least half of the team I've got here has participated in previous MEDCEURs."

The mission of civil affairs is to provide the interface between the military and the civilian population. In the classroom, the team hopes to impart to the servicemembers of partner nations the importance of having a formal, detailed plan which includes all of the different agencies that can come into play, such as fire, police, sanitation, etc.

The team's curriculum is based on the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

"We try to make it as simple and straightforward as possible because of the language barriers," said Colonel Katz. "We're often teaching through translators, which is always interesting. We try to focus on concepts and major points and we also use practical exercises to give the audience hands-on exposure."

Just as the soldiers have made return trips to MEDCEUR, some of the servicemembers of the partner nations have as well. Staff Sgt. Alberto Torres is also supporting MEDCEUR for the third year and said seeing the same servicemembers helps in their work.

"We're building on previous experiences," said Sergeant Torres. "It makes it a little easier with an audience that knows you and knows your skills."

Whether they have attended MEDCEUR before or not, the team hopes the end result is the same.

"We say before we teach at every exercise that if there is just one thing for every student that triggers some thought for the future, then we've been successful," said Colonel Katz.

For example, Colonel Katz told of a medical officer from Azerbaijan who had attended the previous MEDCEUR and returned this year.

"He told us that he has taken some of what he learned from us and applied it back home, which was very gratifying," said Colonel Katz.