US Navy Surgeon General Addresses NATO Medical Conference

US Navy Surgeon General Addresses NATO Medical Conference

The Navy Surgeon General addressed medical attendees from 16 countries about the current state of Navy Medicine and global engagement during the NATO Maritime Medical Conference, April 23.

Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general, and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, spoke to more than 50 attendees via video teleconference capability during the conference, which was held in Newport, R.I.

“As the world is becoming more global, the exchange of ideas between our medical professionals is crucial,” said Nathan. “We must create synergy, learn together and find opportunities to build personal relationships. In doing so, we will create a safer world.”

During the conference, Nathan discussed the future of military medicine and the joint nature of battlefield care.

“We are looking hard at how we will provide support to the warfighter in the future; how we can leverage technology; and how we will fight our next war,” said Nathan. “Today, we have a 97 to 98 percent survivability rate on the battlefield if our combat wounded reaches a forward resuscitative surgical suite – a rate unheard of in previous wars. This high survivability rate is due to the tremendous cohesion from the Army, Air Force and various nations.”

Nathan also discussed global health engagement as a leading factor maintaining a stable global economy.

“We build our Navy for war, but operate for peace,” said Nathan. “I recognize that as the world becomes more global, a Navy – any nation’s Navy – becomes pivotal to continue to turn the world’s economic gears.”

Nathan also highlighted that humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) missions such as Pacific Partnership, Continuing Promise and Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) build camaraderie and retention. He mentioned that despite constrained budgets, these types of missions are still crucial to partnership building and can have significant dividends.

“If you ask any Sailor who has worked with others from your nations about their experiences during our HA/DR missions, they will tell you that they are the most memorable experiences of their careers and the reason for why they wanted to join the Navy,” said Nathan.

Nathan also discussed the standing up of the Defense Health Agency and the future of jointness within the military health system as a means of cost saving, the creation of standardization, and more interoperability.

“We look forward to lessons learned from your countries regarding how we can find more efficiencies,” said Nathan. “As we move towards the establishment of the DHA, we will see more jointness. Jointness is coming and is here to stay and that’s a good thing.”

The mission of the NATO Maritime Medical Conference is to provide attendees with an update of Maritime Medical capabilities in order to share and simplify planning.

As the Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Nathan leads 63,000 Navy Medicine personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.

Naval Today Staff, April 24, 2013; Image: NATO