Garmisch, Germany – More than 120 military medical leaders, providers and planners from Army COMPO 1, 2 and 3 as well as civilian medical experts from across Europe, Africa and the continental United States took part in the Strategic Health and Readiness Symposium held Mar. 21 - 23 in Garmisch, Germany.
The host for the three-day medical symposium was Brig. Gen. Clinton Murray, commander of Army Medical Readiness Command, Europe and director of Defense Health Agency Region Europe.
“The overall purpose of the strategic health readiness symposium was to bring all the medical folks that represent Europe and Africa together so that we could talk about our problem sets, talk about healthcare delivery and talk about the operational environment,” said Murray. “In addition, we wanted to ensure that we are all on the same sheet of music and that we have a plan going forward, one that everyone understands and agrees with.”
According to Strategic Health Readiness Symposium planners, the symposium provided a unique opportunity for the various military medical leaders, and their civilian counterparts, from across Europe, Africa and the continental United States to share ideas, engage in professional dialogue and establish relationships.
“I think the most important outcome of this symposium is relationships,” added Murray. “It’s a whole lot easier to know someone ahead of time than in the moment of stress when something is causing a lot of anxiety in the force.”
In addition to forging and building relations, the symposium provided an opportunity for military medical leaders to combine their efforts regarding medical exercise planning, theater mission assets, and other medical engagements within the European and African theaters of operation.
“What’s unique about medical care in Europe is that we really are the only medical readiness command in the Army that is fully is forward deployed,” said Murray. “We are here to support the operations that go on in Europe and Africa and to understand those unique relationships we have with all of our allies and partners in order to be successful.”
Supporting the warfighter and their mission is a top priority for Army medical leaders across the theater and area of operation.
“In the medical environment, we must ensure that we have a good set theater,” added Murray. “Our mission is to ensure that everyone is healthy, that we have an evacuation plan and a care plan, so that casualties who may have been injured on the battlefield, or from disease or non-battle injury, can make it back home safely or stay in the fight if they need to.”
According to symposium planners, these types of medical events are vital to supporting military operations and ensuring success on the modern battlefield.
“I think these symposiums are really important, not only for building relationships, but more importantly, for pushing forward into the next space,” said Murray. “In other words, what does the operational medical space look like in 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. To get there, we must do a lot of planning and exercises. What I hope is that each of these iterations of the symposium build on each other so we are a little better each and every time and that we all come together and develop a way forward.”
According to symposium attendees, it was an opportunity to collaborate with inter-service and interagency equities to ensure strategic health readiness considering current and future global challenges.
“As the leader of Army public health assets in Europe, this was a great venue to walk through how the optimized delivery of public health support truly enables warfighter readiness when it comes to training and potential conflict scenarios,” said Col. Ken Spicer, commander of Army Public Health Command Europe. “I would like to amplify that this is the most interconnected I have seen the theater medical enterprise in all my years of service in Europe – a cumulative of 21 years.”
Other symposium attendees were equally pleased with the overall outcome of the event.
“The Strategic Readiness Health Symposium brought together the Army medical community that supports current and future operations in Europe and Africa to look at how we integrate these various healthcare organizations into the operational health system,” said Dan McGill, staff director, Office of the Command Surgeon, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. “The last few years have been a time of radical change for Army Medicine in Europe. As an AMEDD community, we must answer how we are going to work together and integrate our sustainment and protection for war fighting functions. Our Soldiers must have access to the very best health care regardless of their unit or location, that is the end state of our operational health system.”