The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the nation’s Medical Combat Support Agency. Its mission is to provide military services, federal partners, and allies with the medical capabilities they need to fight wars. The DHA coordinates a global network of medical professionals to improve the health and readiness of the Armed Forces.
Enhancing Military Readiness through Combat Suppor
Ensuring military readiness is vital to ensuring success in conflict. There are many factors that influence military readiness and ultimately, whether a military unit will succeed in the field. For example, Task Force Smith, an American unit deployed to Korea in June 1950, lacked training and had been hastily put together. This reduced their readiness and the military’s ability to win the war. The result was a catastrophic failure.
The military can increase readiness by focusing on high-end training and proper maintenance of equipment. This improved training has resulted in increased mission capabilities for F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The Navy also removed older aircraft from service and used repairable parts for spares. In addition, the Air Force has migrated to a common aircraft simulation platform, which will help to increase readiness.
As the United States faces competition from Great Powers, improving readiness has become more vital than ever. The Department of Defense has adopted a strategy for preparing for these conflicts, which includes a new National Defense Strategy. The policy includes three pillars: reforming the department, partnerships, and restoring readiness. As Secretary of Defense, Esper has also added a fourth priority: care for service members and their families.
As a way to assess military readiness, the Department of Defense has a program known as ARMS. The ARMS software allows Army officials to develop and portray information on readiness quickly.
Joint Trauma System
The Joint Trauma System (JTS) is a database for the rapid response and care of trauma patients that is centralized in the Department of Defense. The system is comprised of two main components: the Physician’s History and Physical form and the Nursing Record. The database was designed to receive and share information about trauma patients in real-time. It was originally planned to be operational by 2008, but the Army Surgeon General has approved its transition to operational mode.
The JTS mission is to improve the care of combat casualties by leveraging data and evidence-based process improvement. Its goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality of combat casualties and to maximize the ability of military, civilian, and civilian teams to provide essential care. The JTS team works closely with the military and civilian trauma communities to identify and document medical capabilities and requirements.
The JTS was originally developed at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research but has since been moved to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to provide a more systematic approach to trauma care. It provides evidence-based guidelines and analyses the care of combat casualties to determine best practices.
The DHA is responsible for advancing the medical readiness of military personnel by maintaining a global network of military hospitals, clinics, and civilian health providers. It also provides training and clinical settings to medical personnel. It also coordinates training partnerships, research findings, and trauma education.
The Department of Defense’s GEIS Operational Section supports health surveillance efforts through grants. It funds six overseas research laboratories and four reference laboratories that focus on infectious diseases. In the fiscal year 2015, it distributed nearly $47 million to 65 countries. This money has supported infection control efforts in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and influenza surveillance. It also supported WRAIR’s sequence of 151 H3N2 samples collected from 37 countries. The resulting data has contributed to the understanding of drifted strains of H3N2 before they reached the U.S.
A new directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) specifies the steps needed to conduct medical surveillance during deployment and afterward. The guidelines also specify the importance of establishing a geographic information system to collect environmental exposure data and link it to individual medical records. In addition, post-deployment health screening must be conducted before the service member leaves the area of operation, and within 30 days of returning home. The tri-service reportable medical event list should be updated regularly.
Medical surveillance during deployment includes both inpatient and ambulatory care. The data collected can be used to prevent future outbreaks and identify risks associated with chemical and biological warfare agents. The data can also be used for retrospective analyses.
Combatant Command needs
The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is a Unified Combatant Command in the Department of Defense. It oversees the Special Operations Forces from all four armed services. It is headquartered at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. The Special Operations Forces are comprised of military service members who receive special training and are assigned to special units. USSOCOM provides health services and programs to these forces from medical facilities throughout the country.
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the single medical combat support agency for the U.S. military, and it must field the right capabilities to carry out its mission. These capabilities include advancing world-class operational support and building a combat support infrastructure. They also ensure the Department of Defense (DoD) is using the full breadth of expertise and experience available across the force.
These responsibilities include the management of military treatment facilities and the Joint Trauma System. The services retain responsibility for the recruitment, retention, skill development, and maintenance of medical providers. The DHA, however, will continue to maintain health care delivery infrastructure. This transition is part of DHA’s ongoing transformation efforts.
To improve patient care, the DHA has implemented innovative new technologies and processes. It has also expanded its telehealth capabilities and digitized numerous processes. It has implemented MHS GENESIS, a single federal electronic health record. It also created a nurse advice line that provides phone assistance to beneficiaries. In addition, it has implemented the first bioengineered blood vessel transplant in military history.
The DHA also supports the medical readiness of the military through an extensive global network of hospitals, clinics, and health providers. This network helps maintain an effective medical force and support operational forces in the field. It also provides clinical settings and training for medical professionals. Its Joint Trauma System provides evidence-based recommendations for the treatment of trauma.
medical-related combat support capabilities
The United States military’s medical-related combat support capabilities (MHS) are crucial to the success of future combat operations. These capabilities include a worldwide network of treatment facilities, transportation assets, and storage sites. Moreover, a strong MHS will be required to respond to an evolving security environment. Considering the importance of a healthy and safe force, the military needs to assess the gaps in its current medical capabilities and make plans for future improvements.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHA) is responsible for supporting the nation’s medical-ready force, which includes nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. The DHA fulfills these responsibilities through several components that provide expertise to Combatant Commands. Additionally, the DHA employs liaison officers to maintain direct contact with combatant commands and better understand their requirements and capabilities.
Medical-related combat support capabilities are organized into echelons or levels of care. Each echelon represents a progressively higher capability. Lower levels of support are contained within higher levels, allowing them to focus on stabilizing patients before evacuation to the next level of care. Generally, a combat medic serves as the first individual in the CHS chain to make medically substantiated decisions. Combat medics are backed up by self-aid providers and buddy-aid providers.
Combat support hospitals provide medical care for soldiers in battle. These units are usually large and difficult to move. In addition, they are a major component of brigade support battalions. Most combat support hospitals are attached to a unit, but they may also be part of a medical evacuation battalion, divisional medical treatment companies, or selected combat support units.