Five Years of MILMED COE

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MCIF 4/2014
The Budapest-based NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine (MILMED COE) celebrated its 5-year anniversary on 25 November 2014 in Budapest, Hungary.

Accredited by NATO in October 2009 and inaugurated in November the same year, MILMED COE celebrates five years of its existence this autumn. On this special occasion the COE organized an anniversary ceremony with a large number of dis-tinguished guests, including the Minister of Defence of Hungary, Dr. Csaba Hende, who delivered the opening speech. Minister Hende highlighted in his speech that for the last 15 years Hungary has been an active member of NATO and MILMED COE is a great example of Hungary’s contribution. The director of MILMED COE, Brigadier General Dr. Stefan Kowitz, thanked the host nation Hungary, the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces for their continued support, as well as all the partners of the Centre for their contribution to its activities and achievements.

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Minister Hende delivering the opening speech

2014 was a very busy year for MILMED COE. The Force Health Protection NATO Conference 2014 in June was indeed a NATO-wide event with more than 200 participants – both military and civilian – from 27 countries. Another very important event took place in October: the ISAF Medical LI/LL Workshop, where 44 attendees from 17 nations (4 flag officers) – representatives from NATO organizations, COMEDS Working Groups / Panels and various national organizations – collected interesting and fundamental observations and Lessons Identified. All output is available on the MILMED COE Lessons Learned Portal. Our Centre is developing a conclusion about the decisions and results of this workshop. An Ebola West Africa Risk Assessment, as well as an Ebola Newsletter prepared by the Deployment Health Surveillance Capability (DHSC) Branch of MILMED COE is also available on our website.

High quality and sustainable medical support must be prepared to cover different types of conflicts, disaster relief opera-tions, and outbreaks of infectious diseases. By the limited per-sonnel capabilities in the national medical services and the reduced resources we have to look for multinational and smart solutions. MILMED COE represents this approach. As the last ACT periodic assessment report states: „MILMED COE is a good example of Smart Defence in action and the cooperation that is possible”. This assessment underlines the great importance of multinational training, exercises and evaluation so that our troops have a chance to prepare to work together before the mission.

MILMED COE is an international military organization accredited by NATO’s Military Committee. Its core task is to further develop NATO’s medical support by innovation, experience and by creating and sharing best practices.

MILMED COE currently has 8 member nations. Besides Hungary as the founding Framework Nation, 7 countries have joined the Centre so far as Sponsoring Nations: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and the United Kingdom. Voluntary Contributing Nations in joining process are Bel-gium and the United States of America. Both nations have already provided personnel. Since MILMED COE has a satellite branch in Munich, the DHSC, it is supported by Germany as host nation.

The mission of MILMED COE is to support and assist the Strategic Commands, other NATO bodies, nations and other civil and military organizations by supporting the transformation of the Alliance and thereby improving medical support to operations and to provide subject matter expertise in the following areas:

  • Medical training, exercises and evaluation leading to certification
  • Medical Lessons Learned
  • Standards development and custodianship
  • Deployment related health surveillance

Moreover, the COE provides relevant knowledge, expertise, and best practices to the NATO community to enhance and develop the provision of effective, sustainable and ethical full spectrum health services at best value to the Allies.

Since its founding 5 years ago, the MILMED COE has become a hub of military medical expertise and a focal point of knowledge, providing invaluable training, education – with almost 700 students trained from 38 nations since the beginning – and deployment health surveillance capabilities, lessons learned databases and concept development support. The COE has excellent working relations with all relevant NATO bodies and working groups operating in the field of military medicine. These achievements are reflected by the NATO and civilian university accreditation of the COE’s courses, permanent support of the Sponsoring and Partner Nations to exercise series Vigorous Warrior, frequent request for medical evaluation of multinational medical units and the continuous support of the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS).

Military medicine is a discipline that is strongly connected to civilian medical developments. The MILMED COE, as a knowledge centre, remains an open institution that links military and civilian medicine together by collecting up-to-date medical knowledge and expertise from both communities, continuing to cooperate with the widest possible range of partners.

There are still growth and development opportunities for MILMED COE. As an example, we will support NATO ACT to translate NATO Education & Training requirements into solutions for individual training and coordinate efforts. The first step is to organize the NATO Implementation and Synchronization of Individual Training Conference on 17-19 December 2014 in Budapest. At the end of this process the COE intends to achieve the function as the official Department Head for NATO individual military medical training.

coe 2 KopieAnother goal is to become the main Point of Contact for the Medical LI/LL process. Together with our Steering Nations and COMEDS it was decided that MILMED COE should be provided with all information on the following topics in the next 3 years: Readiness/Resilience, Medical Capabilities, MEDEVAC, Medical Intelligence, Education and Training and Medical Campaign Effects. We will maintain the ability to react to current issues and developments. In the following weeks we will develop the process and start with the first implementations.

The following main events are planned for 2015:

  • Mental Health and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workshop, 24-25 February 2015, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in cooperation with the Europe Regional Medical Command
  • Multinational Military Medical Exercise Vigorous Warrior 2015, June 2015, Czech Republic, with focus on CBRN
  • Force Health Protection Workshop (Main focus LI/LL Ebola mission), 24-25 June 2015, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in cooperation with the Europe Regional Medical Command

At the end of his speech the director of MILMED COE, Brigadier General Dr. Stefan Kowitz, thanked for the efforts of all the colleagues who ever worked or are currently serving at the Centre. MILMED COE will continue to support NATO and the nations with the best of its abilities and just as our new slogan says, we remain “Committed to the health of our forces.”

For more information about our activities please visit www.coemed.org.