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6 The advantages of defence medical engagement
  1. Lt Col Robert A Salaman
  1. Clinical Director Roto 4A. Consultant Vascular Surgeon, East Lancashire hospitals NHS Trust. 207 Field Hospital. Deputy Consultant Advisor (reserves) General and Vascular Surgery


The Ground Manoeuvre Surgical Group was established to provide DCR/DCS support to Operation Newcombe, the UK contribution to MINUSMA, a UN stabilisation and support mission in Mali. Opportunities arose during my tour to forge closer relationships with other nations’ surgical teams to the benefit of all.

The UK team delivered a trauma SIM session in the as-yet untested temporary French facility during the drawdown of OP Barkhane. Several human factors issues were identified, and procedures changed prior to the facility going live. Subsequently I was invited to attend when a UK soldier required emergency care in the French facility. I gained multinational working experience and the UK soldier was reassured by a UK presence in the surgical team.

Informal weekly meetings with the Germans and Swedes enabled a thorough understanding of each teams’ experience and skills. The UK team were consequently invited to lead the damage control surgery of an Egyptian UN soldier with multiple limb injuries from an IED strike. This provided valuable experience for the UK orthopaedic and general surgeons and an ODP. The UK team was subsequently able to significantly contribute to the after-action review as well as providing significant expertise and training to the greater UN team for future MMI planning.

Two of the five UK Defence Engagement Strategy’s aims are “Capability and capacity building, and Access and influence. By enthusiastically engaging with the medical teams of all nations, the UK GMSG team enhanced its capability and gained significant access and influence to the benefit of injured soldiers.

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