Operation Desert Storm:

Improvements Required in the Navy's Wartime Medical Care Program

NSIAD-93-189: Published: Jul 28, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 1993.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the capabilities of Naval medical personnel that supported Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, focusing on whether the medical units: (1) were prepared to perform their assigned missions; (2) had problems in identifying and deploying medical personnel; (3) were staffed with trained personnel; and (4) had required equipment and supplies.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy medical units were not prepared to fulfill their assigned missions, although the Navy demonstrated its ability to rapidly provide significant medical capabilities during wartime; (2) the units' missions included handling more casualties than they were designed for, providing noncombat medical care, supporting the evacuation of casualties out of theater, and receiving large numbers of chemically contaminated casualties; (3) the Navy did not efficiently manage its deployment and assignment of medical personnel because full mobilization did not occur; (4) the Navy's personnel information system contained outdated and inaccurate data; (5) medical personnel were deployed without adequate training; (6) the lack of inventory controls allowed incomplete, unmaintained, and incompatible equipment to be sent to the theater; (7) inadequate inventory records hampered the deployment of medical supplies and equipment; (8) the incompatibility of the Navy's automated supply systems with the Army's supply system increased order and shipping times for medical supplies; and (9) although the Navy has initiated improvements in providing in-theater medical support, it has not established time frames to correct identified problems.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 10, 1993, the Navy Surgeon General forwarded to the Secretary of the Navy an action plan that includes timelines for correcting the problems identified in lessons learned from the Navy's review of medical support during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The action plan also includes an update and status of pending actions as well as the correction timelines.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should set and enforce time frames to correct the shortcomings identified from lessons learned about medical operations during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy


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