Eighteen veterinary public health officials from NATO and NATO-allied nations, including France, Portugal, Finland, Norway, and the United States participated in the first Naval Task force meeting in Toulon, France March 20-24.

The group discussed the unique challenges of food and water support to naval vessels in the region and attendees agreed that common standards are necessary to attain reliable interoperability between NATO military ships.

Differences between naval operations and ground operations can be significant and thus require a freestanding regulation which specifically defines standards, to include food safety and defense, and potable water safety and defense.

Lt. Col. Stéphane Lefevre, Naval Task Force chairman and Chief Veterinarian at the Expertise Center for Naval Programs in Toulon, will compose and act as custodian for a Standardization Agreement, which is a NATO standardization document that specifies the agreement of member nations to implement a standard. The draft will be proposed to two NATO panels: the Medical Naval Panel and the Food and Water Safety and Veterinary Services, in April and May of this year.

United States Veterinary Corps participation in the Naval Task Force meeting fostered international cooperation and enhanced relationships with allies.

Public Health Command Europe hopes to continue to embrace opportunities for collaboration with host nations and increasing ability to support health readiness of the Department of Defense, allies, and partner nations.

Representing the United States Veterinary Corps at the meeting was Lt. Col. James Pratt, Chief, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support-Europe & Africa; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Gajeton, Public Health Activity- Italy Senior Food Safety Officer; Capt. Ambre Gejer, Rota Branch Veterinary Services officer in charge; and Sgt. Abigail Lopez, Rota Branch Veterinary Food Inspector.