Feature   Partnerships

Partnership Establishes Quarantine Facilities in Kuwait

July 27, 2020 | BY Army Sgt. Andrew Valenza

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. forces have been working closely with host nations such as Kuwait to provide planning, logistical and operational guidance to help keep both soldiers and civilians safe.

U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Medical Command and Task Force Spartan toured a unique quarantine facility operated by the Kuwait Defense Ministry of Defense on July 3.

A result of the U.S.-Kuwaiti partnership, the facility is located at a renovated family-friendly amusement center in downtown Kuwait City.

Kuwaiti officer wearing a face mask.
Medical Command
Kuwaiti Col. Raed Altajalli speaks with U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Medical Command at a quarantine facility, Kuwait, July 3, 2020. U.S. and Kuwaiti forces have been working together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Kuwait.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Andrew Valenza, New York Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200703-Z-DP681-1153

Army Col. Darrin Dailey, a military liaison from the 3rd Medical Command, who has been working closely with Col. Raed Altajalli of the Kuwaiti army, the commander of the COVID-19 facility, said the 3rd Medical Command's role in the partnership has focused solely on advising the host nation.

''[We have] assisted these camps purely from an advisory role,'' Dailey said. ''Colonel Altajalli used the blueprint of [Camp] Arifjan's quarantine and isolation facility for his own.''

Dailey said the 3rd Medical Command provided a liaison to discuss any issues the Kuwaitis may have, along with a logistics team to advise and assist in improving the facilities' supply system.

Altajalli said the site started accepting patients in April and can handle between 1,000 to 1,200 patients, but it comes with its challenges — including  maintaining cold water without damaging equipment such as refrigerators.

''Hot water was the biggest challenge with the camp because of the tent, coolant inside and the electricity. And all of this stuff, it is affected by the heat. … Heat has broken everything, so this is our main challenge,'' Altajalli said.

Within the facility, most tents can hold up to four patients and include air conditioning, wall lockers and a communal refrigerator.

In addition to providing medical and logistics support, engineers from the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division advised the more technical parts of setting up quarantine facilities.

Kuwaiti soldiers pose with U.S. soldiers, all wearing face masks, for a group photo outside a medical tent.
Group Pose
Kuwaiti soldiers stand with U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Medical Command at a quarantine facility in Kuwait, July 3, 2020. U.S. and Kuwaiti forces have been working together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Kuwait.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Andrew Valenza, New York Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200703-Z-DP681-1116

Army Lt. Col. Michael Rodriguez, Task Force Spartan shield division engineer, spoke about the work his team did in advising the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry. ''We started meeting with them, and they said they needed confirmation that the setup was good,'' Rodriguez said. ''They were looking at building out capacity. They looked at schools or warehouses that they could reutilize, so that was our input.''

With the help of Rodriguez and his team, the Defense Ministry now has templates of how to set up similar facilities for future events or emergencies.

''The Kuwaitis will have a plan that will be vetted in place that they can utilize and feel confident that they can execute an emergency management plan,'' Rodriguez said.

Both Dailey and Altajalli said they are happy with the transparency and partnership between nations. ''It’\'s been a great diplomatic relationship,'' Dailey said.

''We are doing our best, working with my friend Colonel Dailey, exchanging the information, and it's very transparent,'' Altajalli said. ''At the end of the day, we are on the same page and trying to keep our officers and soldiers as safe as we can from the coronavirus.''

(Army Sgt. Andrew Valenza is assigned to Task Force Spartan.)