U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (March 5, 2018) – The Navy’s first role 2 light maneuver (R2LM) team completed its inaugural deployment aboard French navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre (L9014) last month to offer advanced trauma life support capabilities while underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
“R2LM can remain on the ship or surge a part or even the whole team ashore with the landing force, which previous units were not capable of doing,” said Cmdr. Michael Johnston, a general surgeon and the R2LM team officer in charge. “This is important because there is a need to get damage control surgery as close to the front line as possible to save lives.”
The seven-person R2LM team graduated from the Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWMI) East, a detachment of Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC) in August 2017. They supported I Marine Expeditionary Force during exercise Dawn Blitz 2017, SEAL Team One during exercise Trident 18 and then deployed in support of Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5) where they were assigned to Tonnerre for 69 days.
“Being on the Tonnerre enhanced our capabilities because of the extra French medical personnel and equipment,” said Johnston. “On the Tonnerre, we had two operating rooms, a huge triage area that could be used as an intensive care unit and the ability to store an increased amount of blood products. In fact, with further personnel augmentation, the Tonnerre is designed to provide advanced surgical support in theater.”
While the R2LM team didn’t employ advanced trauma life support while aboard Tonnerre, they did test their casualty and medical evacuations capabilities, identified vulnerabilities in medical support functions and assisted with daily medical appointments.
“There was a learning curve involved while integrating with the French and learning how to use their equipment,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kevin Munro. “Typically, if we were to deploy aboard a U.S. ship we would integrate with the current medical team however, aboard Tonnerre we were solely responsible for daily medical support of embarked U.S. Sailors and Marines.”
The R2LM medical team joined TF 51/5 Sailors and Marines along with a multinational landing force consisting of French infantry and French armored cavalry for the Tonnerre deployment. Throughout the deployment, TF 51/5 subordinate units with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) conducted amphibious and maritime security operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
“The Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy desires to have something purely navy-based that can serve in many different domains and we were able to provide this support while aboard Tonnerre,” said Johnston. “Capabilities like this are the future of warfare and from a national strategic level, we contributed to strengthening an alliance with the French that’s been in existence for more than 240 years.”
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
For more information about TF 51/5 visit our website www.TF515.marines.mil or subscribe to our DVIDS page https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/Tonnerre, contact TF 51/5 Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Arnold at Sandra.email@example.com, 973-1785-6965 or Marine Capt. Monica Witt at Monica.firstname.lastname@example.org.