Support: MASH Becomes Cash

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April 6, 2018: In Iraq the United States sent in a medical team (the 47th Combat Support Hospital) of medical professionals from United States (army, navy, air force) as well as British, Dutch, German, Australian and Canadian teams to provide medical care for American and NATO personnel. The 47 th also had a growing number of Iraqi medical personnel after it arrived in Iraq back in October 2017. Technically the 47th was there to treat combat and non-combat casualties among the nearly 10,000 NATO military and civilian contractor personnel force. But these foreign personnel suffered few casualties or illnesses and most of the medical care the 47th provided was for Iraqi troops and civilians.

There were a lot of Iraqi medical professionals assigned to the 47th where they got firsthand experience using Western combat medical techniques. Up to 400 patients a day were treated by the 47th which served as a teaching hospital as well as a source of first class care for Iraqi security forces and civilians. Because ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is largely destroyed in Iraq there are far fewer military and civilian casualties and the presence of the 47th, treating mostly Iraqis, provides a morale boost for security forces still hunting down ISIL groups. There is still a substantial, but shrinking number of civilian casualties (under a thousand dead a month and several thousand wounded each month in 2017.) Civilian casualties are down even more sharply in early 2018. This is enough to keep the 47th busy

One thing Iraqis missed when all American troops were expelled in 2011 was the loss of the Western military medical personnel. General violence and deliberate attacks on Iraqi medical personnel after 2004 left Iraq with few local capabilities like the 47th. There is still a shortage of medical personnel in Iraq but it is much less dangerous to be an Iraqi doctor or nurse and many of the new ones are right out of medical school and inexperienced. So the training aspect of the 47th is a long-term benefit.

The CSH (Combat Support Hospital) is the successor (since 2006) to the much older MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital). Thus a CSH is referred to as “cash”. There are currently about 25 CSHs in the American military, most of them reserve units. They are organized and equipped to set up and run a large (200 or more bed) hospitals anywhere on short notice. A CSH would also have several sterile operating rooms, one or more emergency rooms plus all the usual departments (radiology, lab, pharmacy, kitchens and living quarters for the 600 or so staff of a CSH. All the equipment for a CSH is designed and packaged for transport by air on short notice.

 


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