Operation Desert Storm:

Problems With Air Force Medical Readiness

NSIAD-94-58: Published: Dec 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's medical readiness during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, focusing on whether the Air Force's: (1) medical and evacuation units were sufficiently prepared to perform their assigned missions; and (2) system for staffing its medical and evacuation units was effective.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force could not have adequately cared for, evacuated, and regulated the predicted number of casualties because its medical and evacuation units were often inappropriately staffed for the assigned missions, logistics and equipment problems, and inadequate training for deployment conditions; (2) several factors caused patient flow problems and ineffective use of hospitalization including the lack of involvement of joint regulating officials in directing patient movement, internal and external theater communications problems, and inadequately integrated and time-consuming computer systems; (3) the Air Force believes that its ability to deploy its medical and evacuation units will improve significantly after prior recommendations have been approved and implemented; (4) the Air Force's system for staffing its medical and evacuation units was problematic, biased, and promoted short-term degradation of unit cohesion; and (5) the Air Force believes that troop morale and other problems associated with its medical and evacuation staffing system will be resolved through better unit education and training.

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