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Lessons for Conducting Health Development at the Tactical Level

Introduction

It is hard to be good at everything. Just as stability operations challenged U.S. military units that had been preparing for conventional warfare, physicians assigned to tactical units immediately before a deployment can become overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks that are outside of their traditional skill set. As most U.S. physician assignments to battalion surgeon positions are filled through the Professional Officer Replacement System from hospitals and clinics, the majority of their training has been in the delivery of direct clinical care. While there have been calls questioning the need to fill these positions with physicians, it appears that the current practices of the Professional Officer Replacement System will continue.3,4Accordingly, several articles have reviewed the roles and responsibilities physicians assume when deployed as clinician/special staff officers and the unique situations or challenges they may face during their deployment.5,7 As the role of medical care in contemporary conflicts have assumed a greater role in stability and counterinsurgency operations, articles reviewing the ethics, challenges, and framework for conducting military medical engagements as part of the total force mission have developed into a growing body of literature.8,14 Despite having little to no experience or training in health development or global health, tactical commanders look to their physicians as the de facto health development experts and expect them to participate, if not lead, medical stability operations.15

For clinicians assigned to rapidly deploy with a tactical unit, the key aspects and challenges of health development and medical engagements can be difficult to learn in conjunction with other new military tasks. To assist these physicians or other health professionals, this article proposes key health development lessons to frame planning for health engagements before deployment and to prompt further study once deployed.

------------------The rest of the article can be found at the link below

Wilson, R.L., Moawad, F.J., and Hartzell, J.D. (2015). Lessons for Conducting Health Development at the Tactical Level. Military Medicine. Vol 180. 368-373. [attached]