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Dental specialists pull together to pull teeth during Cobra Gold 2011

By Lance Cpl. Kris Daberkoe | | February 13, 2011

Two members of the mobile dental clinic of the Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force have developed a working relationship that mirrors the multinational bond strengthening aspect of Exercise Cobra Gold 2011.

Though they are from diferent parts of the world, U.S. Army Spc. Brandon Rodriguez, a Harlingen, Texas, native and dental assistant with the 618th Dental Activity based out of Young Sun, Republic of Korea, and Maj. Hykal Ibrahim, a Kelantan, Malaysia, native and dentist with the Joint Force Headquarters, based in Kuala Lumpur, have bonded to create the driving force of the dental portion of the MEDCAP team, said Ibrahim.

Cobra Gold 2011 is a regularly scheduled annual multinational training exercise designed to increase interoperability between the particpating nations which includes service members from the armed forces of the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore.

During Cobra Gold 2011, the Combined Joint Civil Military Task Force has given service members with the same military profession the opportunity to work together with their foreign counterparts, said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Erano Bumanglag, a Waipahu, Hawaii, native and the battalion operations sergeant major for 65th Medical Brigade, 8th Army, U.S. Forces Korea.

Rodriguez and Hykal's ability to work together is an example of the interoperability intended by Cobra Gold 2011, accorrding to Bumanglag.

“Rodriguez and I work well together,” said Hykal. “As a medical officer, I need an assistant that is both vigilant in his duties and responsive to my instructions.” 

According to Hykal, these traits are especially important at a field dental clinic where sanitary standards are compromised by the number of patients being treated.

“Out here, we don’t have the luxury of using a sterilization device known as the Auto-cleave,” said Rodriguez. “Instead of using heat to sterilize, we use chemicals such as germicide, fungicide and viruscide.   

“This process takes between 50 to 60 minutes because of the time it takes to kill the different organisms,” he added.

Rodriguez says regardless of the situation, Ibrahim thinks through problems to find solutions.

“Once when a patient’s crown cracked into multiple pieces, Major Hykal extracted the pieces without alarming the patient which would’ve caused the patient to swallow the tooth. And, he did it without the help of suction,” Rodriguez said. 

It is not uncommon for service members from different nationalities working together to build camaraderie, said Bumanglag.

“Cobra Gold has been something we have shared with our allies for 30 years,” said Bumanglag. “This year, we are proud to have the Malaysians with us.”

For more information about Cobra Gold 2011, visit www.marines.mil/cobragold2011 or www.facebook.com/exercisecobragold.

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