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Fort Carson Medical Unit Set for Mission in Middle East

Fort Carson
Fort Carson

A small contingent of doctors, nurses and medics from Fort Carson will head to Iraq this month as part of the deployment of the post's 10th Combat Support Hospital to the Middle East.

The bulk of the 213 soldiers in the unit will work in Kuwait, but detachments from the hospital will head elsewhere to support the growing fight against Islamic State terrorists, including the special forces troops ordered into Iraq on Tuesday by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

"We're pushing forward surgical teams into Iraq and Egypt," said Col. Kimberly Aiello, the hospital commander.

Surgical teams generally include fewer than 20 soldiers.

Another detachment is heading for Jordan, which borders Syria and is a key American ally in the Islamic State fight.

The hospital troops are familiar with the Middle East -- the hospital deployed three times to Iraq from 2003 to 2010.

Col. Allan Darden, who commands the 1st Medical Brigade that includes the hospital, said the troops are well trained for the mission.

"I'm convinced the 10th Combat Support Hospital is ready to do whatever is required," Darden said during a farewell ceremony for the hospital, which will fly out this month.

The Fort Carson unit is equipped to provide full-spectrum medical care to wounded and ill troops. It comes with pharmacy and laboratory and X-ray experts. Since the unit first deployed to war in 2003, it has a survival rate of 99.5 percent of the troops it has treated.

To prepare for work overseas, the hospital's troops have trained since April to work in austere settings. They have also focused on traumatic injuries, with doctors and nurses training at Fort Carson's Evans Army Community Hospital and helping out in civilian hospital emergency rooms in Colorado Springs.

"You are by far the most ready unit I have served with in a 23-year career," Aiello told her soldiers during the ceremony.

The hospital's mission will be larger than treating wounds. The unit will also work to train military medical units from nations around the region.

The hospital is also bringing an optometry team to Kuwait to help soldiers see clearly.

Aiello admits that the timing of the deployment is tough for the hospital's families. Most soldiers, she said, are celebrating the holidays early, with many combining Christmas and Thanksgiving in their households.

The hospital's top enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Baller, said he tells troops to focus on loved ones in the few days they have left in Colorado Springs.

"Cherish the time," he told them.

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