Would It Work—a Single Medical Command?

Lawmakers queried senior service medical personnel about the efficacy of creating a single medical command rather than having separate functions within each service. Lt. Gen. George Peach Taylor Jr., Air Force Surgeon General, calls the idea a “work in progress”—in that DOD is reviewing “various options—but he cautioned that the Air Force, in particular, would have to take a “much larger leap” than the other services because its medical operation is “decentralized.” The Army supports a unified medical command, while the Navy, like USAF, has concerns about the ability to carry out service-unique missions, like the air care provide by Air Force medical teams. The greatest benefit, they all agreed, would be in providing common training organizations and in purchasing supplies and equipment. However, Vice Adm. Donald Arthur said that it is important “not to meet the medical system’s needs, but to meet the services’ needs for combat service support.”