Army Medicine in Europe reaching out to German partners

by Ed Drohan
Europe Regional Medical Command Public Affairs

KOBLENZ, Germany — Partnership was the word of the day as members of Army Medicine in Europe met with their counterparts from the Bundeswehr Medical Service at the latter’s headquarters June 26.

Representatives from Europe Regional Medical Command, U.S. Army Europe Office of the Command Surgeon, and the 21st Theater Support Command’s 30th Medical Brigade traveled to Rhein Kaserne in Koblenz to discuss partnership opportunities with their counterparts in the German military — or Bundeswehr — medical system. Bundeswehr participants represented the Medical Service Headquarters, the Regional Medical Care Command and the Bundeswehr Central Hospital in Koblenz.

While there have been some partnership opportunities in the past, the meeting was set up to discuss how the U.S. Army and German military medical systems could enhance and extend those opportunities in other areas.

“I know there have been partnerships in the past — some at (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center) and field exercises,” said ERMC Chief of Staff Col. Scott Ehnes. “I’m glad that we can reach out and reengage. I think this is a great first step. There are many opportunities for us to collaborate.”

Col. (Dr.) Rolf von Uslar, chief of the Bundeswehr Medical Service Headquarters (BwMSHQ) Concept Development, Research and International Cooperation Branch, said the Bundeswehr surgeon general has always been in favor of strong U.S.-German relationships.  As part of his briefing on the makeup of the German military medical service, he explained that they had hosted a medical exercise in 2013 that included medical assets from 11 countries, including the United States.

“Operation Vigorous Warrior 2013 was an 11-nation multinational medical task force,” von Uslar said.

The task force was designed to see if they could work together in field conditions.

“The bottom line result — yes, we can,” von Uslar said. “It was very encouraging, and we intend to continue the exercise every two years, hosted by different countries.”

He also said there was an existing formal partnership between the Bundeswehr Central Hospital Koblenz and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“Now we hope to figure out how to get this cooperation even more lively than it has already been in the last few years,” von Uslar said.

Briefings on the makeup of Army Medicine in Europe included suggestions for partnering, such as staff and medical exchange programs, veterinary medicine engagements, medical logistics and maintenance operations, participation in the Army Expert Field Medical Badge competition, and training using Army medical simulation centers such as the Viper Pit at Baumholder.

In the end, both sides decided it was best to gather more information on collaboration opportunities and come together again to discuss them in more detail.

“I suggest we come back with ideas in two to three weeks,” von Uslar said. “We should know who the respective commanders are and who our respective counterparts are.”

Ehnes agreed that it is a great first step.

“Now it’s time for that important second step,” he said.