52nd Plenary meeting of the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO
From 25 to 27 November 2019, the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS) convened at NATO HQ for its 52nd plenary session. Brigadier General Zoltan Bubenik from the Czech Republic, the chairperson for COMEDS opened the Plenary. The Director of the Logistics and Resources Division of the NATO International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Vasileios Garmpis attended the meeting as the NATO Military Committee representative.
The meeting started with a NATO-only session where NATO Nations and NATO Command Structure representatives discussed medical issues of relevance to NATO.
The meeting with NATO partners was started on Tuesday morning. During his opening remarks, Brigadier General Zoltan Bubenik welcomed allied and partner Surgeons General to the Plenary. “As the principal source for medical advice to the NATO Military Committee, the COMEDS coordinate NATO military medical matters and contribute to our overall military medical policies. It also helps develop the medical requirements and capacities to support NATO and make sure that we are always ready and able to help, wherever and whenever necessary”, emphasized the Chair of the COMEDS.
The Plenary started with the report of Chair COMEDS and medical updates from the NATO International Military Staff, ACT and ACO. Nations also shared national developments in the medical arena. “The COMEDS is a unique platform that allow NATO and partners Nations to share invaluable advice and experience. The experts seated at this table can offer insight on topics such as innovation, development of capabilities, interoperability, mobility and other improvements in the medical fields. We can all learn from each other and improve our respective procedures as well as guarantee that NATO is at the top of this field”, highlighted Brigadier General Bubenik.
The programme then veered to updates and discussions on ongoing projects including on Military Health Care, Force Health Protection, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Medical (CBRN), etc. “The military medical community not only provides medical care, but also preventive health care, veterinary support and psychological support for deployed troops. It provides essential combat service support, making it one of the key planning domains for operations, along with armaments, logistics, air traffic management and other areas of specialization”, underlined Brigadier General Bubenik.
The COMEDS also work closely with other NATO entities such as the Science and Technology Organization, the Joint Health Group of the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC), the NATO Support and Procurement Agency as well as the NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine and the European Union Military Staff.
The meeting ended with the COMEDS’ Dominique Jean Larrey Award Ceremony. This year’s award was bestowed on the German Role 2 level field hospital which has been supporting the NATO KFOR mission for almost 2 decades. The Dominique Jean Larrey award recognizes nominees for their considerable contributions to multinational medical cooperation and support as well as the outstanding results demonstrate and achieved in this area.
Namely, the German Role 2 level field hospital is being recognized not only for the incredible in theater support, medical care and local training it provided to the KFOR Mission but also for its multinational cooperation which contributed to the systemic thinking that led to the establishment of the Framework Nations Concept. When the German Role 2 successfully ended their mission for KFOR in 2017, no replacement nation was found so a contracted solution was put in place.