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New doctrine Smart Book helps Soldiers, leaders navigate the Army Health System

By Michael J. Mullaney | Health Readiness Center of Excellence | May 21, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Starting with the Army’s first doctrinal publication, Baron von Steuben’s Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, published in 1779, doctrine in various forms has guided the Army through peacetime and war.

In the early 1900s, Army doctrine consisted of fewer than 40 field service regulations and drill manuals and, over time, grew to more than 500 field manuals. Lessons learned from World Wars I and II and other operations shaped and codified how Army forces operated. Although they provided tactics and procedures, these publications lacked a clear hierarchy that served to both categorize and prioritize information.

Within the Army Medical Department, there are 28 doctrine manuals for Soldiers and leaders to digest. Recently, the Health Readiness Center of Excellence, or HRCoE, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, developed a doctrine smart book to help professionals navigate the Army Health System, or AHS, language of the profession. The HRCoE has the responsibility to envision, design, train, educate and inspire the world’s premier military medical force to enable readiness and strengthen America’s Army,

“AHS doctrine is dynamic and changing, based on lessons learned in current operations and training, adaptive enemies, and changes in force structure, technology, and social values,” said Col. Bruce C. Syvinski, director of HRCOE’s Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, or CDID.

The AHS Doctrine Smart Book is designed to provide the basic information necessary for leaders to familiarize themselves with this doctrine and the original sources. It clarifies why various constructs exist and how they all fit together.

“As doctrine evolves, we see a prolific growth of terms and expressions used,” Syvinski said. “This growth sometimes obscures the relationship of terms and expressions such that Soldiers and their leaders do not effectively understand them.”

The CDID maintains that the culture within Army Medicine in fiscal year 2019 and beyond will look dramatically different from the past and what will emerge is an operationally focused medical force.

The AHS Doctrine Smart Book provides brief summaries of all of the current medical doctrine publications.  It is intended to be a quick reference tool, and as such, will not provide all of the doctrinal answers users may need.  However, it will point the users in the direction of the correct doctrinal publications for a deeper look at employing medical capabilities and comprehensive discussions about the AHS.

Employing the AHS is very complex and not easily understood by all nonmedical professionals.  The Smart Book can also be used as a quick reference tool by nonmedical leaders, planning staffs, and commanders to answer questions they may have regarding operational medical support without having to spend too much time searching for and reading through complete doctrine libraries.

The CDID’s Doctrine and Literature Division, or DLD, who were the lead on the Smart Book, has eight doctrine writers and five editors that write and edit up to 28 publications annually. Writers in the DLD are subject matter experts of over 4,000 pages of AHS doctrine, yet they do not expect every medical officer, NCO, Soldier, and civilian to maintain such a depth and breadth of knowledge.

The AHS Doctrine Smart Book is a useful tool, as it takes approximately 4,000 pages of AHS doctrine and summarizes it in about 200 pages. It is not designed to provide all of the answers, but it provides many and will encourage users to seek additional doctrinal references as a part of self and professional development.

The majority of the Smart Book is based on current, approved, published doctrine. Some content is based on material that is in the final stages of publication update, and, therefore, will contain slightly different content from the doctrine that can be found on the Army Publishing Directorate website.

There are four parts in the Smart Book. Part one provides a summary of the AHS, to include our Roles of care, principles, and 10 medical functions. Part Two provides a visual representation of the AHS’s doctrinal hierarchy and its corresponding Army and joint doctrine.

Part Three consists of brief summaries of each AHS organization employed to provide force health protection and health service support. Part Four lays out all 10 medical functions and what part they play in the four strategic roles of Army operations: shape the operational environment, prevent conflict, conduct large-scale combat and consolidate gains.

As Army Medical Department doctrine publications are updated, the AHS Doctrine Smart Book will be revised as well; DLD expects to revise the document every 90 to 180 days or as needed.

“We trust that the Smart Book will make doctrine easier to locate for our military planning experts,” Syvinski said. “They need to think of doctrine as the approved solution, a product of years of lessons learned, and we want them to use these tools for the proper employment of medical assets to help our forces fight and win and then come home safely.”

The publication supports the HRCoE’s efforts to help change the Army Medicine culture to one refocused exclusively on operational medicine, to improve the integration of doctrine in training and education, and to assist the operational forces to increase their use and understanding of doctrine.

The AHS Doctrine Smart Book was officially signed and approved by Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Sargent, the HRCoE commanding general, April 15. The most current version of the AHS Doctrine Smart Book is located on DLD’s milSuite site at https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-609342. For questions about the doctrine smart book or AHS doctrine in general, email usarmy.jbsa.medcom-ameddcs.mbx.ameddcs-medical-doctrine@mail.mil.

(Editor’s note: Michael J. Mullaney is a doctrine developer (medical) and Army Health System symbologist with the Health Readiness Center of Excellence.)