The 56th Plenary meeting of NATO’s Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services
On the 7th and 8th of December 2021, NATO’s Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services (COMEDS) convened virtually for its 56th plenary session. They discussed medical issues of relevance to NATO, the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and welcomed their new Chair, Major General Tim Hodgetts.
Opening the Plenary, the COMEDS Chair Brigadier General Bubenik highlighted the important role the Committee has been playing throughout the pandemic, especially in coordinating NATO’s response and advising the NATO Military Committee. “COMEDS is the principal source for medical advice to the NATO Military Committee. We ensure our leadership can make informed decisions, helping them shape our medical policies, our contingency plans and as required, our medical emergency responses”, added the COMEDS Chair.
The Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer addressed the plenary and thanked the Surgeons General for their guidance and efforts especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “The Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services has led our common effort. You have been our North Star, guiding us through these dark times. With your help, NATO reacted swiftly and effectively to mitigate the impact of the virus”, emphasised Admiral Bauer.
The Chiefs of Military Medical Services discussed the medical side of the new NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, the NATO 2030 projects and the NATO Strategic Conceptas well as implications of Defence and Deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area (DDA) concept in the field of medical support. “As an enabling function to the Military Instruments of Power, we must ensure the proper contribution of medical support to the Alliance’s three core tasks. And demand an improvement of the enablement to sustain medical functions continuously and at all levels. Developing the NATO Medical Support Capstone Concept will allow us to set out a vision in guiding nations’ thinking process and capability development efforts for the next two decades”, highlighted Admiral Bauer.
The participants also discussed future opportunities for implementing military medical ethics in NATO and national doctrine and training as well as adapting military medical training to future warfighting.
On the last day, this year’s COMEDS Dominique Jean Larrey Award was bestowed on two entities, the COMEDS Medical Intelligence Panel and the Military Medical Centre of Excellence (CoE). The award honours the support to nations given by both of these organisations, with special focus on Force Health Protection Branch activities, and the Medical Intelligence activities and achievements.
The 56th plenary session concluded with the handover-takeover of the Chair position from Brigardier General Bubenik (CZE) to Major General Hodgetts (UK).