Dr Andreas Stettbacher MD
Swiss Armed Forces Staff
Basic Task of the Military Medical Service
The Swiss Military Medical Service has a Dual Mission:
- Provide medical support to the Swiss troops in war and peacetime, also under CBRN conditions;
- Planning and coordination of all national medical resources in response to national disasters or crisis (the Surgeon General is in this function directly accountable to the Swiss Federal Council of Ministers).Surgeon General/Commissioner of the Federal Council.
Surgeon General / Commissioner of the Federal Council
This position includes multiple functions:
• Head of the Armed Forces Medical Service;
• Commissioner of the Federal Council – a position which includes the
two functions of head of the Coordinated Medical Services and head of
the Centre of Competence for Military and Disaster Medicine;
• medical advisor to the Chief of the Armed Forces and to the head of the
Federal Department of Defence, CivilProtectionandSport;
• responsibility for the medical and technical standards of the Armed
Forces Medical Service and of the Red Cross Service organisation
according to Swiss laws and civilian standards.
Directorate of Medical Services (212 pers.) in Armed Forces Staff with a pool of 2000 medical personnel (active reserve) for Medical Departments of barracks:
- Specialist Medical Support for operations and training;
- 1-2x Role 2LM-Medical Support (long service – rapid reaction teams) in Armed Forces Logistics Organization (Logistics Brigade);
- 48x Role 2LM-Medical Support in Land Forces Logistic Training Brigade (26 pers./Role 2LM);
- 4x hospital battalions in Armed Forces Logistics Organization (Logistics Brigade). Each battalion with 200 beds capacity;
- 1x Reserve Military Hospital;
- 4 Medics (active reserve) with ambulance in each company with combat tasks:
– Advanced Life Support (PHTLS® first responder, TCCC);
– Transport with field ambulances or armoured ambulances (civilian rescue vehicle standard);
- Role 1 Medical Support in each battalion (active reserve, 12 pers/btl, 55 btl).
Switzerland has a draft system / 38.000 drafters per year / 20.000 recruits.
Centre of Competence for Military and Disaster Medicine (CC MDM)
• develops training directives and defines the content of military medical education and training programmes in cooperation with civilian partners and military medical expert centres of the medical faculties of Swiss Universities;
• promotes and steers research in military and disaster medicine in cooperation with military and civilian partners (e.g.universities);
• ensures national and international certification of military medical education and training.
Main missions (only med unit)
Tajikistan 1995-1996, (UNMOT)
Jerusalem 1995 – 1996 (UNTSO HQ)
Kosovo 1999 …… (KFOR/Swisscoy);
Namibia 1989 – 1990 (UNTAG);
Western Sahara 1991 – 1994 (MINURSO);
Afghanistan 2003 – 2008 (ISAF);
Iran, Earthquake Bam 2003;
Sumatra, Tsunami 2005 (N HCR);
DR Congo, Elections 2006 (MONUSCO);
Indonesia, Earthquake in 2010.
The Surgeon General is responsible for the Coordinated Medical Services (CMS). This is a permanent national network that plans and coordinates all available medical resources on a federal level (civilian-military cooperation) in the event of war or in disaster and crisis response situations. Various possible incidents could cause the public health care system to fail and would disrupt daily life. The CMS ensures that such situations can be resolved efficiently. The Surgeon General officially represents the Swiss Federal Council in his civilian role within the CMS, taking on the role of Commissioner.
Office of the National Coordinated Medical Services
This office also comprises several areas:
• it is managed by the Surgeon General in his function as Commissioner of
the Federal Council;
• it is the permanent national network for the coordination and steering of all
national medical support assets in extraordinary situations of national
dimensions, major disasters and war;
• it is responsible for the permanent real-time overview of available civilian
and military medical resources;
• it develops the fundamental concepts for education and training of the civilian medical services in preparation for major disasters and emergencies and is responsible for the specialised communication and management network.
Triple Function of Surgeon General
Other Special Aspects
The Journal “Coordinated Medical Services” is a periodic magazine for all partners of the permanent national network for coordination and steering of all national medical support assets. It is published two times a year.
(status: 12 July 2022)