Medical Rules Of Engagement Negative Patients: The Dilemma Of Forward Surgical Teams In Counterinsurgency Operations

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    Becker T, Ray PD, Link M, Ziemba M 11(2). 12 - 15 (Journal Article)

    By definition, Forward Surgical Teams (FSTs) are located far forward in the battlespace to allow for emergent treatment of life and limb threatening trauma sustained by United States and coalition forces as well as those injured according to the medical rules of engagement (MROE). While official doctrine dictates that MROE negative patients are not entitled to care by American military medical assets, experience has shown that some FSTs do not always adhere to that doctrine during counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Medical civic action programs (MEDCAPS) have been used in modern COIN conflicts in an attempt to gain favor with and influence the host nations' local population. However, the results have frequently been counterproductive to the intended mission. The FST, by doctrine, is not equipped to take part in traditional MEDCAPS. The focus of this paper is to explore the potential role of the FST in COIN operations. Possible roles for the FST in COIN include improving the host nation medical capabilities through education and training. Further, surgery can be a useful commodity to gain positive influence with or to trade for intelligence from key local national leaders.

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