This article concentrates on the policy that is available within NATO to support and coordinate the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) process, for both NATO forces and for those agencies and bodies that choose to interact and operate alongside NATO personnel. NATO doctrine is coordinated and crafted by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) who provide custodianship of Allied Joint Publications.

Within the hierarchy of NATO doctrine, medical doctrine begins at Level 2. For the purposes of this publication our key policy document is AJMedP-2 which was previously known as AJP-4.10.2.

The NATO Joint Medical Evacuation Concept can be considered a distillation of the best practice of the contributing nations, in the service of the casualties generated within the NATO operational environment.

The use of appropriately-trained medical staff and equipment for the sustainment of the casualty throughout the MEDEVAC chain (in doctrine referred to as continuity of care) is the difference between MEDEVAC and CASEVAC. This is described in STANAG 3204.

The article specifies and explains the different categories of medevac as well as the different levels of medical care. It dwells on Command and Control issues and emphasizes that a variety of options is available and that the routes for the patient reflect the conditions that may be encountered in operations.

As with the process of medical evacuation itself, the doctrinal direction is working within a constantly changing environment and thus in a constant process of development.


As an example the recent experience may serve, that most of the forward Aeromedevac missions flown in Afghanistan go to so called hot landing zones. The border between forward Aeromedevac and Combat Search And Rescue blurs. NATO doctrine will have to react on this challenge. It will have to unify or amalgamate the two doctrinal approaches.”  [emphasis added]

The entire report can be read here: NATO – Medical Evacuation Policies in NATO MP-HFM-157-01.

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