NATO Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services convene follow-up meeting
On 4 March 2022, the NATO Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services (COMEDS) held a follow-up meeting to the 56th Plenary session. The Medical Chiefs discussed their input to ongoing NATO policies and concepts, including to the NATO Strategic Concept. They also addressed opportunities to support and coordinate Allied humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The Chair of the Committee, Major General Hodgetts opened the session by welcoming participants back to NATO HQ for their first in-person meeting since 2020. He highlighted the important role played by COMEDs, especially as an advisory and coordinating platform throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “The ongoing pandemic emphasised the requirement for better resilience in the medical field as well as the development of coordinated emergency response plans. Despite urgent and difficult circumstances, NATO Allies and Partners have worked together admirably throughout this crisis to protect their populations and to help each other”, he added.
Participants then turned their attention to their input to ongoing strategic work, such as the NATO Strategic Concept, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Concept. “The ongoing pandemic caught us unaware, now we must ensure we gather our lessons learned and incorporate them into the ongoing work strands to ensure we are not only better prepared, but also properly resourced to respond to the next health crisis, as Nations but also as an Alliance”, emphasised Major General Hodgetts.
After an introductory briefing on NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command’s roles, responsibilities and capabilities, the Medical Chiefs reviewed existing and potential opportunities for the Command to provide specific medical support and logistics to the Alliance.
Established in 1993, COMEDS’ original purpose was to coordinate medical support in peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian operations. True to its purpose, the last session of the day was dedicated to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Major General Hodgetts noted that “many NATO Allies have already offered to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, with supplies, equipment and experienced medical personnel. The key will be matching the offers to the Ukrainian requirements”. The Medical Chiefs also discussed potential opportunities for the Committee to support these efforts.