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Annual Report of the Surgeon General United States Army Fiscal Year 1958


After years of study and planning, the Army Medical Service has completely revised its field medical support organizational and operational patterns to provide a more mobile and flexible support to military operations. As envisaged, any future warfare will be fought on an area basis. Such warfare will involve small, widely dispersed, self-contained, highly mobile, tactical units capable of rapid, independent, and collective action within these large areas of operation. Tactical and support units will possess a dual capability of fighting either a nuclear or conventional type of war.

With the advent of tactical employment of nuclear and new conventional weapons, capable of producing large numbers of casualties in a relatively short period of time, medical service may be faced with problems heretofore never experienced in the handling of casualties. In past wars, the flow of patients was a relatively constant one, thus facilitating the construction of an efficient comprehensive organization in handling them. In any future military operations, there may be a relatively low and constant flow of casualties caused by conventional weapons. Superimposed in this flow may be sudden large increases in the number of casualties due to detonations which may disable large combat units.

As a result of organizational and operational studies, the medical service will progressively replace its current series of TOE units with approximately 20 new-type units to meet the field support requirements


of any future tactical operations. In addition, new medical assemblages have been developed and functionally packaged to support the new units.

In the new concept, the chain of evacuation, conceived during the Civil War, in which patients were moved progressively between medical installations separated by relatively short distances, has been modified. Patients will be moved from the initial place of treatment to the medical facility capable of rendering the required treatment.

Greater emphasis will be placed on air evacuation, with a possible reduction in theater evacuation policy to approximately 60 days.

Dispersion of medical means will be attained through smaller size units with organic elements capable of independent operations.

Adequate medical support under the new tactical concepts, together with the possibility of greatly increased numbers of casualties, will require more rapid means of evacuation, faster transport of medical personnel and equipment, better methods of communication, and the most efficient treatment procedure attainable.