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Op Newcombe was the deployment of the UK Long Range Reconnaissance Group (LRRG) in support of the UN MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali. The task group deployed on a rotational basis conducting long-range patrols. Conditions in Mali are characterised by high temperatures (40-50°C) and difficult terrain (particularly during the rainy season). The Ground Manoeuvre Surgical Group (GMSG) was a mission-tailored Mechanised Role 2 (Forward), Forward Surgical Capability. The force generation of the GMSG rotated between Regular and Reserve units with augmentation from Joint Hospital Group (JHG) personnel.
The provision of mobile medical support for the LRRG during their arduous long range desert patrols has presented a number of unique challenges to the DMS. For example, the provision of primary care and Damage Control Resuscitation capability from a mobile unit tested the cold and resupply chains and the scalability of the infrastructure. Furthermore, the means to enable reach back were developed to optimise clinical communication from a remote location. In addition, systems were established to allow for working within a multinational framework across all the capability platforms such as casualty evacuation, enhanced care and management of a Major Medical Incident. It has generated significant developments and lessons identified across all areas of the Operational Patient Care Pathway (OPCP).
A conference was held at DMS Lichfield on 24 Jan 2023. It provided an opportunity for the medical community who have supported Op Newcombe to bring together the capability developments and medical lessons that have been identified. The subsequent dissemination of this specialist knowledge will be vital for the future planning of medical support for similar operations in austere remote locations.