The larger a military operation is in size (Member States, troops, equipment involved), the more sophisticated and complete the medical support tends to be. The military medical support options in Europe used to be designed and optimised for military operations of a larger scale. For some of the current missions conducted in the context of the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), such as antipiracy or training missions, a far smaller number of personnel has to be deployed than in the operations mentioned above.
Against that background EDA carried out the study “Medical Support to Light Footprint Operations” which involved EDA’s ‘Project Team Medical’ and other Ad Hoc Medical Working Groups. The key issue investigated by the study was to keep the quality of medical support at the highest possible level for missions of smaller scale.
The overarching goal was to provide participating Member States with the analytical means to identify new ways of providing effective medical support to so-called ‘Light Footprint Operations’ (LFO) in the context of CSDP. As LFOs are not formally described in current EU or NATO doctrines, there is no agreed set of principles or best practices to tailor medical support to this type of missions.
The study commissioned by EDA analysed key elements of LFOs provides recommendations on a way forward on how to tailor and improve medical support for LFOs, namely:
- EU Medical Concept - requirements for medical support for LFOs and best practices for the provision of medical support must be introduced into the current EU Medical Concept;
- Further harmonization of qualification, material and concepts – based on lessons identified in recent CSDP missions, including difficulties and major obstacles, the study describes options for improved interoperability between units providing medical support, including to facilitate harmonisation and standardisation;
- Categorization of Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF) - based on lessons identified in recent CSDP missions, the study analyzed that the concept of allocation roles should be revisited to consider modularization of medical units as a cost-effective way;
- New technologies and research activities - the study indicates opportunities for multinational cooperation in development and research activities for new technologies, that could be used for both reduce the footprint of medical support in LFOs and the improvement of medical care;
- Engagement between military and civilian medical community - the study identified a number of crossovers in the domains of training of medical professionals and the make-up of deployed medical staff, medical practices of information sharing and medical technologies. To address the synergies and concerns, the study suggests that EDA should seek opportunities to serve as a forum to build trust between the consumers of the technology, the developers and the manufacturers.