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Feature Stories

NEWS | March 6, 2020

Desert Medics Offer Flawless Medical Support throughout CENTCOM AOR

By Spc. Dakota Vanidestine 1st Theater Sustainment Command

One medical unit out of Atlanta, Ga., arrived in theater with the expectation of providing flawless combat healthcare service and support across the Middle East, and they did just that.

The 3rd Medical Command - Deployment Support (MCDS), also known as the, “Desert Medics,” arrived in theater with only 52 Soldiers and were responsible for executing strategic medical operations across the entire U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

Some key accomplishments of the 3rd MCDS include:

• Conducted missions in ten countries and as many as 25 different locations
• Conducted 140 medical missions for 32 multi-component organizations
• Supported over 90,000 Department of Defense (DoD) members, Coalition Forces, and other personnel

The Desert Medics offered top-notch medical care to all military personnel throughout the CENTCOM AOR.

“Our mission was to fulfill the promise that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine who becomes injured or ill in this AOR will receive the world-class medical care that they deserve,” said Col. Richard Bailey, commander, 3rd MCDS. “We had a team doing that in just about every country within the AOR.”

They worked closely with their subordinate units to provide support as necessary.

“We oversaw the 10 medical functions for medical units who support the CENTCOM AOR,” said Capt. Richard Benson, operations deputy chief, 3rd MCDS. “We provided additional forces and support, as needed, by our subordinate units – assets such as surgeons, behavioral health personnel, or any assistance needed with medical logistics.”

In addition, the 3rd MCDS worked with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) for administrative support.

“The 1st TSC had ADCON authority over us – meaning they provided all administrative support to us and our subordinate units,” said Benson.

“We worked well with Maj. Gen. Sullivan and the rest of the 1st TSC throughout our deployment,” added Bailey. “We have been mutually supportive of one another over the past nine months.”

All things considered, the Desert Medics’ primary focus was to support U.S. Army Central’s (ARCENT) intent.

“At our level, we really focused on ARCENT’s main objectives, which required us to maintain a theater-wide focus throughout our mission,” said Benson. “Maj. Gen. Sullivan did a really great job of looking at things in a wide spectrum view, which allowed us to see the big picture and objectives that ARCENT set for us.”

“One thing that was interesting about our rotation in theater was that we actually relocated from Qatar to Kuwait,” added Capt. Kevin Stoll, headquarters and headquarters company commander, 3rd MCDS. “This allowed us to better support our relationship with ARCENT and the 1st TSC.”

Their success in theater can be attributed to a combination of mission focus, morale building activities, and diversity.

“Our ability to focus on the mission and independently execute the commander’s intent was one reason why we were successful in theater,” said Bailey.

In addition to mission focus, “Making sure our team’s morale remained high was essential,” added Stoll. “Most of our Soldiers engaged in lots of sporting events and other competitions offered at Camp Arifjan, which really made a difference in allowing our morale to remain as high as it did.”

Lastly, “The broad levels of experience that everyone brought to the table allowed us to be successful, as well,” added Benson. “We have people coming from fields such as civil affairs and special operations – that type of diversity had a huge impact on the support that we were able to provide while in theater.”

The Desert Medics may have been small in numbers, but the support that they were able to provide was paramount in ensuring that all military personnel across the CENTCOM AOR remained healthy and able to accomplish their mission.

The Soldiers of the 3rd MCDS are currently preparing for their transfer of authority with the 338th Medical Brigade and are set to redeploy later this month.