The wars and their outcomes have shown that there are certain characteristics of the army that play the definitive part in its success no matter the century, the weapons, etc.. The health system of the army is among such factors. This essay will discuss two aspects of the army: firstly, it will define and explain its role in shaping the operational environment, and secondly, it will elaborate on the SHAPE strategic role, exemplifying it by describing the mechanisms of one of the ten medical functions within it.
The operational environment per se is a complex unity of factors, circumstances, and conditions (along with the influences on those conditions) that determine how the military force will be used. It is obvious that the army needs to take control of the operational environment if it wants to create a winning strategy. Initially, the operational environment can be hostile, permissive (mostly used to determine the country where the native army has some degree of control over the situation and is willing to cooperate with the US troops), and uncertain, where the control of the native government and other forces is weak or insufficient. The primary means of preparing and shaping the operational environment today are the cyber attacks and the surgical strikes, which are mostly unilateral and have a preparatory value. These techniques allow it to almost nivelate the risks when it comes to the human forces of the US army, still gaining prevalence in potentially or openly hostile territory. Such prevalence is mostly the unexpected strike value and the one of sabotaging the communications of the hostile forces.
As for the SHAPE strategic role, the abbreviation at hand stands for Strategic Health Asset Planning and Evaluation. For instance, one can describe the protection war fighting function of the army health system in its terms. This function is the ability of the army health system to maintain the maximum combat power within the troops and to ensure that the commander can use it within the short period of time with minimum losses. To achieve this result, the medical professionals who are responsible for supporting the army need to examine the health assets that they have and to determine what they lack (if anything). The health assets include the needed medicines and bandage materials, the blood transfusion and other similar systems, and, what is most important, the sufficient conditions for conducting the surgeries that imply opening the blood channels, the abdomens, etc. While the supplies might be sufficient, the conditions are most likely to be found wanting. Still, after the assets are examined and a catalogue for them is at hand, the professionals need to evaluate them in terms of their sustainability, the draining speed, etc. The plan for using the assets will focus on preserving them for the time that the suppliers need to guarantee the arrival of the new materials, and on their most effective use to restore the combat power of as many soldiers as it is possible.
In conclusion, the army’s preparedness for the conditions that it is to face in the hostile territory plays as crucial a role today as it always did. Its role of shaping the operational environment goes hand in hand with the SHAPE strategic role – Strategic Health Asset Planning and Evaluation, are the determining factors of its ultimate preparedness level, and hence – its potential success.