October 1997

Chapter 16: Medical Support

Medical Planning in NATO

1607. Just as is all logistics, medical support is ultimately a national responsibility, but as multinational forces are created and deployed, the NATO Commander takes on increased responsibility for ensuring that his forces are adequately supported. The provision of this support in both Article5 and non-Article 5 missions often may best be accomplished through multinational cooperation and mutual support. Thus, national planning for medical support within NATO should be done by medical personnel experienced in multinational operations. To ensure the health and welfare of forces under his command, the Force Commander must be provided with a medical staff at his HQ with appropriate levels of rank and experience. This HQ medical staff must be functioning from the outset of the contingency planning process and capable of dealing with the complete spectrum of medical support tasks, planning, executing, controlling, and undertaking post-operational analysis. Planning for medical support of NATO operations has to take into account the numbers of individual nations involved, the variations in national standards of medical care and equipment, the complexity and dynamic nature of the operational scenario and the differences in individual national objectives, and restrictions for national participation in operations.

1608. Medical support planning must be specific for each operation and also meet the demands of geography and climatic variations, individual national needs and communication difficulties. As such, it must rely heavily upon up-do-date medical intelligence covering the Area of Operations. Plans, once developed, must be capable of swift implementation and flexible enough to manage rapidly changing operational demands.

1609. In general, broad doctrinal guidance is provided by the MC, while operational planning guidance is provided by the MNCs. Actual operational planning will be done by the MNCs or their subordinate commands, depending upon the operation envisaged.

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