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Difficult Diagnoses in an Austere Environment: A Clinical Vignette-The Presentation, Diagnosis, and Management of Ichthyosis

Pickard-Gabriel CJ, Rudinsky S 13(1). 61 - 65 (Journal Article)

Lamellar ichthyosis (LI) is a rare inherited skin disorder of cornification, with an incidence of approximately 1 in 200,000 births. It is one of three types of autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis (ARCI), a collective term for the spectrum of nonsyndromic ichthyoses caused by a number of well-described genetic mutations. We describe the case of LI diagnosed in a 10-day-old child of a Somali refugee at a free clinic in downtown Djibouti. Initial concern was for staphylococcal infection versus congenital disease. With the use of digital photographs, consultation with experts accessed through the Army Teledermatology Consultation Service supported a diagnosis of ARCI. Providing care to patients in austere environments can present numerous medical challenges. A provider cannot be expected to be able to diagnose and treat every disease and disorder alone, especially if there is a language barrier. Telemedicine can help close the gap in knowledge, particularly when presented with a challenging case. With a novel presentation, simply taking a photograph and e-mailing a consultant can quickly augment one's medical acumen, ensuring appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

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Functional Screening for Vestibular and Balance Problems Soon After head Injury: Options in Development for the Field or Aid Station

Lawson BD, Rupert AH, Cho TH 13(1). 42 - 48 (Journal Article)

Vestibular balance dysfunction has been documented as a military problem after duty-related barotrauma and/ or traumatic head acceleration. We are fostering the development of rapid, portable, fieldable tests of balance function after such vestibular insults. We consulted on military-relevant tests with more than 50 vestibular researchers, scientific advisors, clinicians, and biomedical engineers working for government agencies, universities, clinics, hospitals, or businesses. Screening tests and devices appropriate for early (post-injury) military functional assessment were considered. Based on these consultations, we recommend that military field tests emphasize dynamic, functional, and duty-relevant aspects of standing balance, gait, visual acuity, perception of visual vertical, and vertigo. While many current tests are useful for the clinic, they often require modification before they are suitable for military field and aid station settings. This report summarizes likely future military testing needs, giving priority to testing approaches in development that promise to be rapid, portable, field-ready, semiautomated, usable by a nonspecialist, and suitable during testing and rehabilitation.

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Evaluation of a Removable Intraoral Soft Stabilization Splint for the Reduction of headaches and Nightmares in Military PTSD Patients: A Large Case Series

Moeller DR 13(1). 49 - 54 (Journal Article)

This large case series reports the results of using a removable soft intraoral stabilization splint in the treatment of chronic headaches and chronic nightmares in 60 military post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients of the Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts. Patient treatment criteria included meeting all of the following requirements: minimum of three headaches per week; minimum of three nightmares per week; minimum of three sleep interruptions per week; minimum of three intraoral or extraoral (craniofacial) trigger points; and previous PTSD diagnosis by the U.S. Army or Veterans Administration with duration of this disorder for a minimum of three years. Significant reduction (60%-90%) in headache and nightmare severity, intensity, and duration was obtained in 75% of the 44 patients who completed the three-month follow-up.

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Development of a Rugged handheld Device for Real-Time Analysis of heart Rate: Entropy in Critically Ill Patients

Mejaddam AY, van der Wilden GM, Chang Y, Cropano CM, Sideris AC, Hwbejire JO, Velmahos GC, Alam HB, de Moya MA, King DR 13(1). 29 - 33 (Journal Article)

Introduction: The usefulness of heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate complexity (HRC) analysis as a potential triage tool has been limited by the inability to perform real-time analysis on a portable, handheld monitoring platform. Through a multidisciplinary effort of academia and industry, we report on the development of a rugged, handheld and noninvasive device that provides HRV and HRC analysis in real-time in critically ill patients. Methods: After extensive re-engineering, real-time HRV and HRC analyses were incorporated into an existing, rugged, handheld monitoring platform. Following IRB approval, the prototype device was used to monitor 20 critically ill patients and 20 healthy controls to demonstrate real-world discriminatory potential. Patients were compared to healthy controls using a Student's t test as well as repeated measures analysis. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves were generated for HRV and HRC. Results: Critically ill patients had a mean APACHE-2 score of 15, and over 50% were mechanically ventilated and requiring vasopressor support. HRV and HRC were both lower in the critically ill patients compared to healthy controls (ρ < 0.0001) and remained so after repeated measures analysis. The area under the ROC for HRV and HRC was 0.95 and 0.93, respectively. Conclusions: This is the first demonstration of real-time, handheld HRV and HRC analysis. This prototype device successfully discriminates critically ill patients from healthy controls. This may open up possibilities for real-world use as a trauma triage tool, particularly on the battlefield.

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Single versus Double Routing of the Band in the Combat Application Tourniquet

Clumpner BR, Polston RW, Kragh JF, Westmoreland T, Harcke HT, Jones JA, Dubick MA, Baer DG, Blackbourne LH 13(1). 34 - 41 (Journal Article)

Background: Common first aid tourniquets, like the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) of a windlass and band design, can have the band routed through the buckle in three different ways, and recent evidence indicates users may be confused with complex doctrine. Objective: The purpose of the present study is to measure the differential performance of the three possible routings in order to better understand good tourniquet practice. Methods: A training manikin was used by two investigators to measure tourniquet effectiveness, time to stop bleeding, and blood loss. Results: The effectiveness rate was 99.6% (239/240) overall. Results were similar for both single-slit routings (inside vs. outside, p > 0.05). Effectiveness rates (yes-no results for hemorrhage control expressed as a proportion of iterations) were not statistically different between single and double routing. However, the time to stop bleeding and blood loss were statistically different (ρ < 0.05). Conclusions: CAT band routing, through the buckle either singly or doubly, affects two key performance criteria: time to stop bleeding and volume of blood lost. Single routing proved to be faster, thereby saving more blood. Learning curves required to optimize user performance varied over 30-fold depending on which variable was selected (e.g., effectiveness vs. blood loss).

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The use of Dietary Supplement Among Soldiers From the Macedonian Special Operations Regiment

Kjertakov M, Hristovski R, Racaj M 13(1). 19 - 24 (Journal Article)

Objectives: To determine the prevalence and type of dietary supplement used, reasons for use, and sources of supplement information among Macedonian elite Soldiers. Methods: Anonymous self-reported questionnaires containing questions about demographic characteristics and dietary supplementation practices were distributed to 134 Soldiers, of whom 80 were recruited from the Ranger Battalion (R) and 54 from the Special Force Battalion (SF). Results: The Soldiers completed and returned 132 questionnaires. Overall, 66.6% of the Soldiers, including 70.3% of SF and 64.1% of R, reported using supplements within the 3 months before the survey. On average, each of these Soldiers used 3.7 ± 2.9 supplements. The most commonly used supplements were multivitamins (50.0%) and vitamin C (47.7%). The most frequently cited reason for using supplements was to improve general health (51.6%). Primary sources of supplement information were friends (42.0%) and books/magazines (40.9%). Conclusions: Dietary supplement use was found to be common and widespread among this military subpopulation. Given this, and the fact that the majority of the Soldiers do not receive accurate information about supplements, educational intervention regarding the safety and efficacy of these products is needed if unnecessary or harmful supplementation practices are to be prevented.

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Emergency Intraosseous Access: A useful, Lifesaving Device used in Afghanistan

Pozza M, Lunardi F, Pflipsen M 13(1). 25 - 27 (Journal Article)

Intraosseous access is becoming a lifesaving procedure under emergency conditions in Afghanistan's battlefield. The EZ-IO system (Vidacare, San Antonio, TX, USA) was successfully used in five patients in whom there was difficulty finding a peripheral venous access. The EZIO is an indispensable medical device to be used on the battlefield and during the evacuation of the wounded in a moving vehicle or helicopter.

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Comparison of Fibrinogen- and Collagen-Based Treatments for Penetrating Wounds with Comminuted Femur Fractures in a Swine Model

Rothwell SW, Sawyer E, Lombardini E, Royal J, Tang H, Selwyn R, Bodo M, Settle TL 13(1). 7 - 18 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Military servicemembers in combat operations often sustain injuries to the extremities from highspeed projectiles, resulting in bleeding and comminuted open fractures. Severe injury with bone fragmentation can result in limb amputation. Surgical treatment options include materials that promote osteogenesis and bone proliferation, such as growth hormones, stem cells, or mineralized matrix adjuncts. However, none of these are amenable to use by the first responder, nor do they address the question of hemorrhage control, which is a common problem in traumatic injuries. Hypothesis: Our hypothesis was that treatment with a fibrinogen-based protein mixture at the time of the bone injury will provide both hemostasis and a supportive environment for preservation of injured bone. Methods: A comminuted femur fracture was produced in 28 female Yorkshire swine, and one of four treatments was instilled into the wound immediately after injury. Each animal was evaluated for the following parameters: inflammation, new bone growth, osteoclast proliferation, callus formation, and femur wound cavity fill, using post-mortem computed tomography and analysis of histological sections. Results: Overall, salmon fibrinogen-thrombin and porcine fibrinogen-thrombin showed a trend for improved healing based on bone filling and calcification. However, statistically significant differences could not be established between treatment groups. Conclusions: These findings indicate that a fibrinogen-thrombin matrix may be a useful as an immediate response product to enhance fracture healing. Salmon fibrinogen-thrombin has the advantages of cost and a pathogen profile compared to mammalian fibrinogens.

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Tactical Lighting in Special Operations Medicine: Survey of Current Preferences

Calvano CJ, Enzenauer RW, Eisnor DL, LaPorta AJ 13(1). 15 - 21 (Journal Article)

Success in Special Operations Forces medicine (SOFMED) is dependent on maximizing visual capability without compromising the provider or casualty position when under fire. There is no single ideal light source suitable for varied SOFMED environments. We present the results of an online survey of Special Operations Medical Operators in an attempt to determine strengths and weaknesses of current systems. There was no consensus ideal hue for tactical illumination. Most Operators own three or more lights, and most lights were not night vision compatible. Most importantly, nearly 25% of respondents reported that lighting issues contributed to a poor casualty outcome; conversely, a majority (50 of 74) stated their system helped prevent a poor outcome. Based on the results of this initial survey, we can affirm that the design and choice of lighting is critical to SOFMED success. We are conducting ongoing studies to further define ideal systems for tactical applications including field, aviation, and marine settings.

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Redefining Technical Rescue and Casualty Care for SOF: Part 1

McKay SD, Johnston J, Callaway DW 12(4). 86 - 93 (Journal Article)

Trauma care in the tactical environment is complex; it requires a unique blend of situational awareness, foresight, medical skill, multitasking, and physical strength. Rescue is a critical, but often over-looked, component of nearly all tactical trauma casualty management. Successful fullspectrum casualty management requires proficiency in four areas: casualty access, assessment, stabilization, and extraction. When complex rescue situations arise (casualty removal from roof tops, mountain terrain, collapsed structures, wells, or a karez), casualty care often becomes further complicated. Special Operations units have historically looked to civilian technical rescue techniques and equipment to fill this "rescue gap." Similar to the evolution of pre-hospital military medicine from civilian guidelines (e.g. Advanced Trauma Life Support) (ATLS)) to an evidence-based, tactical-specific guideline (Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC)), an evolution is required within the rescue paradigm. This shift from civilian-based technical rescue guidelines towards an Operational Rescue™ capability allows tactical variables such as minimal equipment, low light/night vision goggles (NVG) considerations, enemy threats, and variable evacuation times to permeate through the individual rescue skill set. Just as with TCCC, in which the principles of casualty care remain consistent, the practices must be adapted to end-users environment, so it is with rescue.

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Return to Full Duty After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Is the Second Time More Difficult?

Enad JG, Zehms CT 13(1). 2 - 6 (Journal Article)

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur repeatedly in Special Operations Forces (SOF). In this study, we sought to determine whether military patients requiring a second (i.e., revision) ACL reconstruction in the same knee had a lower rate of return to full duty and greater chance of medical discharge versus those undergoing first-time (i.e., primary) ACL knee surgery. A sin-gle-institution, retrospective analysis of surgical records and medical board data of active duty members during a 4-year period identified 19 revision and 169 primary ACL cases, respectively. Measured end points were rate of return to full duty in each group and odds ratio (with 95% confidence interval) for medical discharge. Our results showed that 17 (90%) of 19 revision ACL patients returned to full duty at a mean of 7.5 ± 2.3 months. Two patients did not return to full duty and were medically discharged at 12 and 13 months, respectively. Meanwhile, 155 (92%) of 169 primary ACL patients returned to full duty (mean 7.3 ± 2.3 months), and 14 patients were medically discharged (mean 8.5 ± 2.8 months). Patients in the revision group were only 1.30 times (odds ratio) (95% confidence interval, 0.2726-6.2229) more likely to be medically discharged than patients in the primary group. Overall, the majority of revision ACL surgeries were successful. The period of limited duty was slightly longer after revision ACL surgery. Return to full duty was seen at a similar rate as primary ACL surgery, and the odds of medical discharge were statistically similar. The results are useful in counseling SOF members who might need to undergo revision ACL surgery.

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War Time Medicine on a Peace Time Mission

Reynolds S, Mclemore AN, Squires A 12(4). 60 - 71 (Journal Article)

As we realized the MEDEVAC from JTF-B was not going to happen, the words of instructors from the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center (JSOMTC) echoed through my head, "Men, pay attention to this. There will be a day when you, as Deltas, will have to sustain a patient for hours, possibly days; this is what separates you from any other medical professional in the military, so shut up and stay awake." We had heard those words every time we started a new section of Special Forces Medical Sergeants (SFMS) course. Now those words were staring right back at us in the form of the patient's friends and family. We looked at our patient in the back of that beat up truck and knew we could keep our patient alive. We had the knowledge and the equipment; we just didn't know how much longer we would have to sustain him.

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Combat Ready Clamp Medic Technique

Tovmassian RV, Kragh JF, Dubick MA, Baer DG, Blackbourne LH 12(4). 72 - 78 (Journal Article)

Background: Junctional hemorrhage control device use on the battlefield might be lifesaving, but little experience is reported. The purpose of the present case report is to detail prehospital use of the Combat Ready Clamp (called the CRoC by its users, Combat Medical Systems, Fayetteville, NC; Instructions for Use, 2010) in casualty care in order to increase awareness of junctional hemorrhage control. Methods: The CRoC was used to control difficult inguinal bleeding on the battlefield for an Afghani man with a hindquarter traumatic amputation. Results: The device promptly controlled exsanguination from a critical injury when placed during rotary-wing casualty evacuation. The flight medic applied the device in 90 seconds. The device performed well without complications to control bleeding. Discussion: The CRoC, a new junctional hemorrhage control device, was used as indicated on the battlefield with mechanical and physiologic success and without device problems. By controlling difficult inguinal bleeding resulting from battlefield trauma, the device facilitated casualty stabilization and delivery to a surgical facility. The device facilitated the ability of a new flight medic to focus his expertise on a critically injured battlefield casualty with demonstrable success.

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USSOCOM TCCC CASEVAC Set Program A Retrospective and Overview

Gilpin J 12(4). 79 - 85 (Journal Article)

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) Set Program was initiated in 2006 as a three-step effort. The initial effort was to develop an improved Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK); this was followed by the development of a Medic bag and culminated with the CASEVAC Set. The intent of the Program is both standardizing the medical load out across SOF components and expanding the skill set of Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical practitioners by providing equipment and training outside the normal parameters of many units. Even though the Set is currently being fielded to a variety of units, there are still personnel unaware of the Set and its capabilities. The goal of this article is to increase awareness of the existence of the program and to promote thought/discussion regarding the expansion of the capabilities of the Advanced Tactical Practitioner (ATP) beyond traditional medical skills. This program is best understood by first looking back to where it originated, and then examining where it is at present.

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Intensive Skills Week for Military Medical Students Increases Technical Proficiency, Confidence, and Skills to Minimize Negative Stress

Mueller G, Hunt B, Wall V, Rush R, Moloff A, Schoeff J, Wedmore I, Schmid J, LaPorta AJ 12(4). 45 - 53 (Journal Article)

The effects of stress induced cortisol on learning and memory is well documented in the literature.1-3 Memory and learning are enhanced at low levels while high levels are detrimental. Repetitive training in stressful situations enables management of the stress response4 as demonstrated by the high intensity training military members undergo to prepare for tactical situations. Appropriate management of one's stress response is critical in the medical field, as the negative effects of stress can potentially hinder life-saving procedures and treatments. This also applies to physicians-in-training as they learn and practice triage, emergency medicine, and surgical skills prior to graduation. Rocky Vista University's Military Medicine Honor's Track (MMHT) held a week long high-intensity emergency medicine and surgical Intensive Skills Week (ISW), facilitated by military and university physicians, to advance students' skills and maximize training using the Human Worn Partial Surgical Task Simulator (Cut Suit). The short-term goal of the ISW was to overcome negative stress responses to increase confidence, technical and non-technical knowledge, and skill in surgery and emergency medicine in an effort to improve performance as third-year medical students. The long-term goal was to enhance performance and proficiency in residency and future medical practice. The metrics for the short-term goals were the focus of this pilot study. Results show an increase in confidence and decrease in perceived stress as well as statistically significant improvements in technical and non-technical skills and surgical instrumentation knowledge throughout the week. There is a correlative benefit to physician and non-physician military personnel, especially Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical personnel, from developing and implementing similar training programs when live tissue or cadaver models are unavailable or unfeasible.

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Resourcing Interventions Enhance Psychology Support Capabilities in Special Operations Forces

Myatt CA, Auzenne JW 12(4). 54 - 59 (Journal Article)

This study provides an examination of approaches to United States Government (USG) resourcing interventions on a national scale that enhance psychology support capabilities in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community. A review of Congressional legislation and resourcing trends in the form of authorizations and appropriations since 2006 demonstrates how Congress supported enhanced psychology support capabilities throughout the Armed Forces and in SOF supporting innovative command interests that address adverse affects of operations tempo behavioral effects (OTBE). The formulation of meaningful metrics to address SOFspecific command interests led to a personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) analysis in response to findings compiled by the Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF) Task Force. The review of PERSTEMPO data at subordinate command and unit levels enhances the capability of SOF leaders to develop policy and guidance on training and operational planning that mitigates OTBE and maximizes resourcing authorizations. A major challenge faced by the DoD is in providing behavioral healthcare that meets public and legislative demands while proving suitable and sustainable at all levels of military operations: strategic, operational, and tactical. Current legislative authorizations offer a mechanism of command advocacy for resourced multi-functional program development that enhances psychology support capabilities while reinforcing SOF readiness and performance.

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Forward Assessment of 79 Prehospital Battlefield Tourniquets Used in the Current War

King DR, van der Wilden GM, Kragh JF, Blackbourne LH 12(4). 33 - 38 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Battlefield tourniquet use can be lifesaving, but most reports are from hospitals with knowledge gaps remaining at the forward surgical team (FST). The quality of tourniquet applications in forward settings remain unknown. The purpose of this case series is to describe observations of tourniquet use at an FST in order to improve clinical performance. Methods: War casualties with tourniquet use presenting to an FST in Afghanistan in 2011 were observed. We identified appliers by training, device effectiveness, injury pattern, and clinical opportunities for improvement. Feedback was given to treating medics. Results: Tourniquet applications (79) were performed by special operations combat medics (47, 59%), flight medics (17, 22%), combat medics (12, 15%), and general surgeons (3, 4%). Most tourniquets were Combat Application Tourniquets (71/79, 90%). With tourniquets in place upon arrival at the FST, most limbs (83%, 54/65) had palpable distal pulses present; 17% were pulseless (11/65). Of all tourniquets, the use was venous in 83% and arterial in 17%. In total, there were 14 arterial injuries, but only 5 had effective arterial tourniquets applied. Discussion: Tourniquets are liberally applied to extremity injuries on the battlefield. 17% were arterial and 83% were venous tourniquets. When ongoing bleeding or distal pulses were appreciated, medics tightened tourniquets under surgeon supervision until distal pulses stopped. Medics were generally surprised at how tight a tourniquet must be to stop arterial flow - convert a venous tourniquet into an arterial tourniquet. Implications for sustainment training should be considered with regard to this life-saving skill.

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Addressing Maternal Healthcare Needs in the Counterinsurgency Environment

Lang G, Lang C 12(4). 39 - 44 (Journal Article)

All pregnant women are at risk of obstetric complications, most of which occur during labor and delivery among women with no previously identified risk factors. More than 95 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, a region of the world currently experiencing significant humanitarian crises, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 30 whereas the lifetime risk in developed countries is one in 2,800.1 The majority of maternal deaths from obstetric complications are due to hemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis, or obstructed labor, each of which is treatable. Emergency obstetric care is critical to reducing maternal death and disability. SOF medical personnel supporting counterinsurgency (COIN) operations may find themselves in situations where no legitimate agencies are available to provide maternal healthcare. Similarly, SOF medical personnel should be prepared to assist in rebuilding infrastructure and basic services to include the provision for maternal health. This article provides an overview of maternal health in underdeveloped countries; the importance of addressing the unique healthcare needs of women during COIN operations; and how the employment of Female Treatment Teams (FTT) can assist in meeting these needs. A subsequent article will review the basics of prenatal care and life-saving emergency obstetric care, and discusses the essential information and skills that should be taught in a MEDSEM covering maternal healthcare.

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Biofeedback Self-Regulation Training to Treat Post-Concussion Headache in a Special Operations Support Soldier

Jenkins CM 12(4). 24 - 27 (Journal Article)

Biofeedback assisted self-regulation training can be an effective treatment for post-concussion headaches. The following is an example of using biofeedback assisted self-regulation training as an intervention to treat posttrauma headaches in a Special Operations Forces (SOF) support soldier. This Soldier was a 23-year-old male who had suffered a concussion while off duty four months earlier and continued to experience headache. Threemodality biofeedback (temperature, surface electromyogram and skin conduction) was used to help the patient learn to self-regulate and control his headaches. This was accomplished over four visits over two weeks. This was a compressed timeline to allow him to deploy with his unit. This form of treatment can be a viable nonmedication based option for addressing post concussion headaches for deploying Soldiers.

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Biometrics in Support of Special Forces Medical Operations

Kershner MR 12(4). 29 - 32 (Journal Article)

Recommendations on ways in which the ODA can leverage biometrics in medical operations to improve their security, improve relations with indigenous personnel, and contribute to the larger theater biometrics program.

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