Growing Pains

The Challenges of Medical Support for Operations Other Than War

Published in: Armed Forces Journal International, Dec. 1998, p. 22-26

Posted on on January 01, 1998

by Lois M. Davis

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Operations other than war (OOTW) pose unique challenges for U.S. military medical forces. Participation in OOTW missions may require the United States to provide medical support not only to U.S. forces, but also to multinational forces and civilian populations, thereby imposing a range of demands on U.S. medical personnel, equipment and supplies, patient evacuation, and other health care resources. This article synthesizes recent U.S. military experience in the Balkans, Somalia, and in Haiti in providing medical support for OOTW and discusses future challenges facing the medical community in undertaking these operations. The key findings from a RAND Arroyo Center 1996 study Army Medical Support for Peace Operations and Humanitarian Assistance are summarized. The author calls for a national medical strategy for OOTW that addresses two basic questions: What is the appropriate future role of U.S. medical forces in OOTW?; and How can these military assets be most effectively utilized?

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