The Evolution of Forward Surgery in the U.S. Army

August 30, 2019

As its title suggests, The Evolution of Forward Surgery in the US Army: From the Revolutionary War to the Combat Operations of the 21st Century from the Borden Institute describes forward U.S. Army surgery from the Revolutionary War to the present.

From a historical perspective, this comprehensive book explains the advances in medicine and forward surgical care provided to wounded and ill soldiers on the frontline. The book opens with the role of military medicine and its impact on casualty care from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812. In particular, it discusses the impact of disease during the Revolutionary War through the post-Civil War period.

Advancements in medicine continued to progress after the Civil War into World War I. By the time the U.S. Army entered into WWI, the Army Medical Department had evolved considerably. The book explains how new technologies in forward surgery impacted the “great war.” Advances in medications, lifesaving transfusions, and transportation vehicles such as motorized ambulances were introduced during this period.

Additionally, the research further describes Army forward surgery in WWII and its impact on an international level as well the wars that followed. It discusses the medical and surgical care of the various theater campaigns during WWII, particularly the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, focusing on forward surgery. Forward surgery continued to evolve during the Korean and Vietnam Wars which introduced the need for Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) and helicopter medical evacuations. These advancements provided immediate accessibility to administer surgical care to wounded soldiers near the front lines.

More recent wars showcase advances in radiography, blood collection, pain management, MEDEVAC units, anesthesia equipment, and improved operating room lighting for better surgical conditions and outcomes.

The text concludes with the designation of a formal forward surgical team and its challenges during the Global War on Terrorism as well as a final chapter discussion on homeland defense, contingency operations, and future directions.

Evolution of Forward Surgery in the US Army: From the Revolutionary War to the Combat Operations of the 21st Century is available in a variety of formats from various outlets. To learn more click here.

Find more resources published by the U.S. Army Borden Institute

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