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November 7, 1990

Caring for the Wounded in Wartime

JAMA. 1990;264(17):2263-2264. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450170111032

The sudden occupation of Kuwait by Iraq and the deployment of American troops to the Persian Gulf bring into focus the question, How well prepared are our medical corps for a potential war in that region? For an informed appraisal, I discussed this question with Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Enriques Mendez, MD; Edward Martin, MD, his deputy; and William Mayer, MD, the previous assistant secretary.

We now have in the Gulf, within 3 weeks of the time they were requested, two 1000-bed hospital ships, equipped as well as or better than our best civilian hospitals; each has 12 operating rooms ready for all emergencies. Their staff members were obtained by taking virtually the entire staffs of the Bethesda, Md, National Naval Medical Center and the Oak Knoll, Calif, Naval Medical Center and, within a few hours, putting them aboard these two hospital ships. The absent personnel were