DEFENSE HEALTH HEADQUARTERS, FALLS CHURCH, Va.– Lt. Gen. Nadja West, Surgeon General of the Army, defined Army military treatment facilities as “health readiness platforms” to get soldiers ready for the battle of the future.
She delivered her remarks on Dec.1 during the plenary session of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States annual meeting, which was held from 28 Nov. to 2 Dec. in Washington, D.C.
Army Medicine’s need to be a health readiness platform is apparent when considering the future roles of military medicine. Army Medicine will need to be positioned to support future battles. And the future battle is likely to be a “multi-domain battle.”
The multi-domain battle will be comprised of land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains; these domains will be affected by technology as potential combatants innovate and adapt.
The multi-domain battle requires outmaneuvering adversaries physically and cognitively in cross-domain operations. At every step of the way, Army Medicine has to be prepared to help create responsive and resilient service personnel.
The future fight will be interconnected in a way it never has before, said West.
We need to understand the future fight in order to understand how to position Army Medicine, she added. We must do everything we can to ensure our fighting forces can operate at the extreme edge of the physical and cognitive domains.
The Army must be prepared to fight as part of a Joint Force, across multiple domains, to gain the advantage. The Army adapts, evolves, and innovates to keep a combat edge by thinking about future conflict, collaborative learning, analyzing capability gaps, and implementing solutions.
Army Medicine will adapt as well, filling a role no other healthcare provider can.
It’s critical that we get right care for service members at the point of injury. But that first requires getting it right in our MTFs; otherwise, we may not be able to get it right on the battlefield, West said.
Army MTFs contribute a special value as health readiness platforms.
Even before the medic assists a soldier on the battlefield or a physician sees an Army family member in a healthcare clinic, Army Medicine has been performing research to develop cutting edge healthcare products and vaccines, ensuring safe food and water supplies, and developing a wide-spectrum of healthcare for the entire Army family.
We must continue to hone our medical skills to ensure a rapidly responsive, broad spectrum of medical capabilities–well-trained and well-equipped personnel to deploy while concurrently supporting our soldiers, families, and Soldier for Life retirees at home, she said.
Army MTFs have a special advantage because of their proximity to our soldier population; their location prevents loss of valuable training hours–even training days.
Army Medicine training such as graduate medical education and leader development programs, West said, are critical to maintaining a medically ready force. Clinical skills are important, but leadership skills to lead teams in uncertain environments are also important.
The nature of the large beneficiary population currently found in Army MTFs is a critical and necessary part of ensuring appropriate case complexity so that medical skills are regularly practiced and kept sharp.
Army Medicine is also a key partner in interagency collaboration that is required, for example, to handle the Ebola crisis; partners include both international and domestic agencies. We need to be able to rely on international and civilian partners to ensure that services on the ground have the capabilities to fully support our uniformed personnel. “We can’t go it alone,” West said.
There is much we don’t know regarding what will be required in the future, said West. “We are one team with one purpose” — to get soldiers ready for the battle, she said.