View Full Version : Doctors assess lessons learned in Iraqi action

10-04-03, 06:59 AM
Doctors assess lessons learned in Iraqi action
October 03,2003

Navy doctors learned some important lessons during the war with Iraq, and many of the changes have already started.

As the Navy approaches its 228th birthday this month, it's a good time to re-evaluate operations, said Capt. Richard C. Welton, commander of Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital. The new mission for Navy corpsmen in the field will involve smaller and more mobile forces.

"The Iraqi war taught us that we need to be more modular, flexible and mobile," said Welton, 56, who has 30 years of military experience. "The Navy is rearranging how we package units."

Large groups of pre-packaged tentlike shelters were often linked together to put the entire capability and staff of a fleet hospital into the wilderness. That will soon change.

"In the past, we planned for a 250- or 500-bed hospital, but we need a smaller medical capability to keep up with the Marine mission," Welton said. "We're seeing a modification of the platforms we have now, and the forward recessive surgical system has become more mobile. Trauma teams are the most capable of supporting Marines on the move."

Welton said the Navy is planning for roving emergency rooms that move behind combat units. The ERs will be staffed with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and corpsmen who can treat the wounded fresh off the battlefield and stabilize their injuries so they can survive the move to larger hospitals for more specialized care.

"Instead of a 500-bed hospital, one, five or 100 might meet the mission," Welton said. "Iraq reconfirmed the importance of Navy medicine's support to the Marine Corps."

Navy doctors are learning from civilian trauma units across the country. Welton said teams are being trained rather than individuals.

Welton used a hockey phrase to explain the challenge to military commanders trying to save their troops on the battlefield.

"It's a very scaled-down version of the mobile fleet hospital system, and we use the medical logistics company in 2nd Force Service Support Group to resupply them," Welton said. "It's like trying to anticipate where the puck is going to be at any given moment."

Welton said the Navy's birthday, celebrated on Oct. 13 and Oct. 27, is a good time to reassess what works and what doesn't.

"Birthdays are a time to think about where you are and where you are going," Welton said. "We have a rich tradition and heritage in the Navy, and from the beginning it has been a special relationship with the Marine Corps. No Marine has taken a hill out of earshot of a Navy corpsman."

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com or at 353-1171, Ext. 236.




10-04-03, 07:00 AM
Navy celebrating 228 years <br />
October 03,2003 <br />
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For more years than the United States has been republic, the Navy has been protecting American interests afloat....