57th Plenary Session of NATO’s Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services

From 31 May to 2 June 2022, the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services (COMEDS) held its 57th plenary session at the Army War College in Madrid, Spain. The Chiefs of Military Medical Services discussed the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for military medical services, the implementation status of NATO military medical concepts, and future COMEDS priorities.

Opening the official plenary session, Chair of the Committee, Major General Hodgetts, the United Kingdom’s Surgeon General, thanked Major General Sanchez-Ramos, Spanish Surgeon General for offering to host the COMEDS plenary in Madrid. He also highlighted the need to be able to take quick decisions, especially in the medical field. “I believe that COMEDS can and should be a Command-led, staff supported organization that focuses on decisions and actions,” the Chair said.

Representatives from NATO’s International Military Staff, as well as NATO’s two Strategic Commands, Allied Command Transformation and Allied Command Operations, provided briefs regarding the medical updates in their areas of responsibility.  

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During his briefing to the COMEDS, Major General Juanas Garcia, Director of the NATO International Military Staff’s Logistics and Resources Division, and the Military Committee Representative to COMEDS, presented the Military Committee’s advice, commented on the war in Ukraine, and stressed the importance of resilience. Major General Juanas Garcia stated that we face a new situation with “Millions of refugees, the need for medical evacuation of casualties (military and civilian) and chronic diseases because the hospitals are overwhelmed. This creates a new environment with civ-mil interconnections. Resilience is and will continue to be one of the key topics, and the ability to deal with mass casualties is one of the seven baseline requirements for resilience, and is the one directly connected with the medical domain.”

Earlier in the day, NATO Allies, as well as representatives from NATO Partner countries, Sweden, Finland and Ukraine were briefed by Brigadier General Ostashchenko, Commander of Medial Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. She spoke on the situation of military medial services in Ukraine, including ways to support Ukraine’s medical requirements, and the need for continued civilian-military cooperation.

On the second day of the COMEDS plenary, the Chiefs of Military Medical Services discussed a broad range of topics of medical relevance to NATO, including standardisation, and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) policy.

A highlight of the 57th COMEDS plenary was the workshop on medical ethics in the context of the war in Ukraine. Participants discussed the wider medical consequences and implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for military medical services.

The plenary concluded on 2 June with a number of exchanges with the Joint Health Group, the Israel Military Medical Academy PTEC, ALMANAC Military Medical Corps Worldwide to highlight areas for further cooperation, as well as education and training opportunities.

Around 100 participants from NATO and NATO Partner nations attended the 57th COMEDS plenary session, at the Army War College in Madrid, Spain.

Source: nato.int

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