25 years of NATO’s Chiefs of Military Medical Services
Brussels – On 20 and 21 November 2018, the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services (COMEDS) convened at NATO HQ for its plenary session. The COMEDS was addressed by the Director General of the NATO International Military Staff (DGIMS), Lieutenant General Jan Broeks, who praised the Committee for its outstanding contribution in developing and coordinating military medical matters, and for providing medical advice to the NATO Military Committee.
The agenda of the 50th plenary of NATO’s Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services (COMEDS) focused on research and innovation, enhancing medical capabilities, opportunities for interoperability and the necessary generation of medical capacity to support NATO's future needs.
During the COMEDS Plenary meeting, Dr. Richard Thomas, president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), received the Dominique-Jean Larrey Award, NATO's highest medical honour, for long lasting medical contribution to NATO. The award recognizes “exceptional performance in a multi-nationality environment, to improve interoperability and the provision of health care in NATO missions.” For example, the USU-support was critical to the success of the medical element of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, by providing the framework for a postgraduate medical residency programme in public health for the Afghan National Army and Ministry of Health.
Before handing the gavel to his successor, Major General Bernier was addressed by DGIMS, who complimented him on his clear medical vision, his new approach for COMEDS, the presence of COMEDS in the NATO Headquarters and his efforts to intensify relations with the Military Committee and the International Staff.
“Your efforts to improve the importance of COMEDS cannot be underestimated”
“You were the driving factor to provide the best medical service for NATO’s military all over the world”, stated Lt General Broeks..
The Canadian Major General Jean-Robert Bernier who chaired the committee for three years, then handed over the Chair COMEDS hammer to his successor, the Czech Brigadier General Zoltan Bubenik, M.D.
The COMEDS and the NATO strategic-level Medical Advisors work together to improve medical support in a multinational dimension. COMEDS, NATO’s senior body on military health matters, steers Allied medical doctrine, interoperability and capability development within NATO and its member countries. It does this in collaboration with the NATO Standardization Office (NSO), and through several working groups and panels that are populated by national subject-matter experts from both Allied and Partner countries.