ASBP: Military Blood Capabilities Displayed at NATO COMEDS Plenary Meeting
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Military Blood Capabilities Displayed at NATO COMEDS Plenary Meeting

By Jessica Pellegrini, ASBP Staff Writer
Navy Capt. Roland Fahie, director of the Armed Services Blood Program, and other military blood program representatives presented at the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO, or COMEDS, Plenary Meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, May 31. Fahie and team members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, spoke to attendees from 32 countries during the event and highlighted some of the military blood program’s blood transfusion and collection capabilities.

Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Joseph Caravalho, joint staff surgeon at the Pentagon and chief medical advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted the event. Canadian Maj. Gen. Jean-Robert Bernier, the first person from outside continental Europe to be elected to serve as the COMEDS chairman, opened the session by speaking to attendees, many of whom where surgeons generals from our NATO partners, and thanking the organizations that were to present.

“Our job is to work with NATO countries and their partners to provide interoperable blood and blood support with those individuals seamlessly,” Fahie said. “You have NATO forces that support our troops around the world, and we support our NATO forces around the world. So as partners, we fight together and we also save lives together. Our mission is to make sure that we can share resources and that our blood can work for them and their blood can work for us.”

Founded in 1994, COMEDS is the senior committee for medical care within NATO. It acts as the central point for the development and coordination of military medical matters and for providing medical advice to the NATO Military Committee. All 28 NATO countries are members of COMEDS. Additionally, nations that are members of the Partnerships for Peace, the Mediterranean dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and Partners across the Globe are observers.

According to the COMEDS website, “the military medical community plays a key enabling role within NATO and, more specifically, within NATO’s defense planning process. COMEDS makes recommendations concerning the development and assessment of NATO military medical policy and procedures for medical support and seeks to improve existing arrangements between member countries.”

In order to highlight some of the military blood program’s capabilities, the ASBBC’s blood mobile was parked in the middle of Hangar 3 on the installation and opened for visitors to tour. Additional signs and banners explained the medical detachment blood support mission, structure, locations and missions as well as the theater blood distributions system.

“It was a great honor to speak with Maj. Gen. Caravalho, Maj. Gen. Bernier and the surgeons general during our visit to Joint Base Andrews,” Fahie said. “It is always a great privilege to meet with our NATO allies and to discuss the future of military medical operations worldwide. By working together with other nations, we are creating a better, safer and more advanced medical experience for our patients worldwide. In the end, this type of coordination will save more lives.”

Among the other displays at the event were a C17 aircraft — the type of plane often used to transport blood overseas — and an Ebola treatment unit used to help contain the spread of the virus in infected areas.

Fahie said the main the thing he wanted the delegates to know was “that they can count on the U.S. forces to work with them to be able to provide blood and blood support to our military members and their beneficiaries overseas, and also that we can support each other in combat operations.”

“Wherever we are needed together, we can work together as partners to fight terrorism or do whatever it takes when we are called upon by higher authorities,” Fahie said.   

About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest.  Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.