The ADAL is a field kit set containing all the dental tools, furniture and equipment that allows the dentists and dental technicians to do what they would normally do in a fully stocked dental office. The exercise increased confidence that the battalion is ready at any time to go forward deployed and treat patients as they would here.
Petty Officer Second Class Michael Gorasenghor, a corpsman in the battalion, explained the importance of this long-awaited exercise.
"We're here so that if I Marine Expeditionary Force needs 1st Dental Battalion to deploy the commanding officer can confidently say that we are ready, we're capable, and we have been trained in setting up an ADAL and treating patients out in the field," explained Gorasenghor.
The Commanding Officer of 1st Dental Battalion, Capt. Peter Ruocco, said seeing what his Sailors have done during this exercise fulfills that confidence in the battalion.
"They're not just doing exams and cleanings here," said Ruocco. "They're actually doing injections, fillings, extractions and even some emergency procedures. I truly believe that they can create a sterile environment that can handle doing surgical operations."
Throughout the exercise, more than 200 patients were treated using the ADAL set up. While the dentists and dental technicians get training in a field environment often, this exercise is the first time in 10 years since they've been able to treat patients with the ADAL.
The value lies in being able to treat a patient in need and return them to the force with minimal delay.
"We're learning how to be dental technicians out in the field and that's one of the most important things when we do get attached to a Logistics Combat Element," said Gorasenghor. "Our mission is to be able to deploy with Marine units to a forward operating base and treat patients in the field without having to send them back somewhere else to be treated. We have the capability to keep them within that area of operations."
Ruocco said his Sailors have met his expectations, and made ADALEX a huge success in preparing them for what may come.
"They're doing a great job out here," said Ruocco. "I told them when we were sitting in the meeting room making the plans for this that I want them to do more than just basic dental work. We don't want to wait until we're forward somewhere to find out if we can do this; we're going to find out here."
The commanding officer plans to continue challenging the battalion with an ADALEX every six months for the foreseeable future. With this capability in their hands, they stand ready to operate anywhere they get called upon.