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Jean-Robert Bernier

NATO Medical & Rescue Service Canada

MG Jean-Robert Bernier

Future Forces Forum Future Forces Exhibition 2016 World CBRN & Medical Congress (CEBIRAM) 2016

Chairman, Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS)


Medical Trends and Challenges in Future NATO Operations

The end of the Cold War and subsequent NATO operations led to military medical experiences, capababilities, and capacity that do not necessarily reflect all aspects of medical readiness required by NATO forces to deal with future trends and challenges.  For example,  the scale, environment, and mobility of ISAF medical support did not reflect all medical challenges and required capabilities relevant to the evolving hybrid threat on NATO's eastern flank.  Extensive strategic, operational, and scientific  analysis are necessary to foresee and optimize readiness for this and future instability situations, as well as to exploit future opportunities.  As the global security environment becomes less stable, NATO must be ready to respond to multiple and varied threats internally, on its borders, and trans-nationally. To support NATO’s readiness for future challenges, current medical support capability is expected to require adaptations in many areas such as readiness, responsiveness, resilience, adaptability, and partnerships with non-NATO organisations, as well as the maintenance of scientific, technological, and quality advantages.


This presentation will highlight some of the key military, socio-political, environmental, scientific and technological trends and challenges to be considered in establishing  near-term readiness in light of NATO's Readiness Action Plan, as well as future mid-term readiness out to 2030. It will review  some of the most significant factors and potential mitigation approaches relevant to future military medical support. Finally, it will summarize current and planned efforts of NATO's medical and transformation authorities to anticipate and establish medical readiness for future operations.

Curriculum Vitae

Originally from Sarnia, Jean-Robert Bernier graduated from the Royal Military College in 1982 and served in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry before studying medicine at McMaster University and in Toronto. He then served as a Regimental and Hospital Medical Officer in Germany, commanded MacPherson Hospital in Calgary, trained in medical nuclear, biological, and chemical defence with US research institutes, completed post-graduate environmental and public health programs at the US Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and served with the US National Center for Medical Intelligence at Fort Detrick. He subsequently expanded defensive medical capabilities against military threats as Head of Operational Medicine, chaired the CAN-UK-US Medical Countermeasures Coordinating Committee and the AUS-CAN-UK-US Medical Intelligence Analysts' Working Group, and was vice-chair of NATO's Biomedical Defence Advisory Committee. After serving as Head of Occupational and Environmental Health, he led the armed forces public health agency as Director Force Health Protection. As Director Health Services Operations, he chaired the multi-national steering group coordinating NATO health resources in southern Afghanistan and was responsible for support to all Canadian missions, including the combat hospital in Kandahar for which Canada received NATO's highest honour for medical support. As Deputy Surgeon General, he chaired the Health, Medicine, and Protection research committee of NATO's Science and Technology Organization, the world's largest research network. As the 38th Canadian Surgeon General, Head of the Royal Canadian Medical Service, and Commander of Canadian Forces Health Services Group 2012-2015, he expanded military operational and mental health capabilities while generating the health service support to several humanitarian, development, and combat missions. He is the first person from outside continental Europe elected to chair the committee of Surgeons General of NATO and partner nations (COMEDS) since November 2015. Major-General Bernier is a graduate of the Canadian Army Command and Staff College, the Advanced Military Studies Program, and Queen’s University’s Public Executive Program. He received the Royal Military College History Prize, the US Army Medical Department Center and School Commanding General's Award, an Honorary Doctor of Science from Queen’s University, and is the first alumnus of the US federal health sciences university to be appointed a Surgeon General. He is an Honorary Physician to Her Majesty the Queen, an Officer of the Order of Military Merit, a Knight of Malta, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, an elect of the US national honour society in Public Health, and an Honorary Graduate of the US Interagency Institute for Federal Healthcare Executives. He serves on the NATO Science and Technology Board, the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and on the boards of the Foundation for Civic Literacy and the Dorchester Review.

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