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NEWS | June 25, 2024

CSAF signs AFMEDCOM PAD, aligns with key readiness priorities

By Maristela Romero Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Allvin postured the Air Force Medical Service to better serve installation commanders and the medical readiness of Airmen and Guardians by signing Program Action Directive 24-01 on June 12, 2024.

The PAD authorizes the formation of the Air Force Medical Command, or AFMEDCOM, as a direct reporting unit aligned with the Secretary of the Air Force’s readiness priorities and support capabilities lines of effort.

Previously, the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, the AFMS’s former field operating agency, redesignated as Air Force Medical Agency and achieved initial operational capability in October 2023. It served as an initial step toward the CSAF’s direction to transform elements of the office Air Force Surgeon General headquarters functions into AFMEDCOM.

“This alignment will improve the Air Force’s ability to generate medically ready forces, provide installation support, and improve our partnership with the Defense Health Agency to optimize health care delivery,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General. “This is aligned with the Department of Air Force’s efforts to reemphasize its focus on readiness.”

Miller said AFMEDCOM will provide an operational medical capability - organized, trained, and equipped - to be an organic part of the DAF’s warfighting force elements. The command will ensure DAF Airmen, Guardians and their families receive timely and quality medical care, whether assigned to installations supported by large or small military treatment facilities. It will also meet DHA commitments to serve the larger beneficiary population.

The Air Force is following through on the PAD by adopting a phased approach to effectively stand up AFMEDCOM.

“We’ve done extensive planning and coordination, but there’s still more work to do,” said Miller. “This is a significant moment in the Air Force’s history, and we want to ensure AFMEDCOM is implemented seamlessly and correctly.”

No immediate changes will occur at the installation level. As part of the implementation plan, over the next few months, AFMEDCOM leaders will refine the headquarters structure and ensure personnel fully transition to their role on the AFMEDCOM staff. Meanwhile, planners will continue to develop command relationships and roles and responsibilities before any permanent changes are implemented at the installation level.

When finalized, AFMEDCOM will provide command and control of its personnel to execute DAF and AF/SG readiness requirements.

“We’re taking a conditions-based approach to ensure the effective transfer of personnel and responsibilities of AFMEDCOM,” said Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, Deputy Surgeon General. “We’ve had extensive conversations with leadership at all levels. AFMS is a critical component of readiness, and ensuring commanders have the medical support they need is essential.”

According to the PAD, in addition to serving as the principal medical advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, CSAF, and Chief of Space Operations, the Air Force Surgeon General will serve as the AFMEDCOM commander and will lead AFMEDCOM’s functions. These include providing medical command authority needed to optimize, organize and train for readiness; maximizing focus on Air Force Force Generation support to the U.S. Air Force and Space Force; providing an Air Force-led intermediate management structure to preside over military treatment facilities; and deconflicting operational requirements to ensure optimized health care delivery.

AFMEDCOM’s structure includes two regional commands, Medical Readiness Command Alpha and MRC Bravo, each overseeing subordinate medical units. Among the conditions for AFMEDCOM as direct reporting unit to achieve initial operational capability is for all layers of the headquarters to have staffing.

“Eventually, medical groups currently aligned to major commands or field commands will be formally reclassified as AFMEDCOM capabilities aligned under medical wings, but not for some time,” said DeGoes.

He explained that when the Air Force begins transferring the groups under AFMEDCOM, that action will be done thoughtfully, incrementally and in full coordination with major commands, field commands and installations.

A programming plan will follow with required steps to implement and execute these functions. This plan will include a detailed approach to align installation-level medical units and assigned personnel.

In the years since Congress implemented the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and transferred health care authorities from the services to the DHA, the services have worked closely with DHA to manage priorities. AFMS planners analyzed Air Force concerns voiced by service leaders at the CORONA Commander’s Conference in the fall of 2022, and evaluated DHA’s market structure as well as its sister service medical structures. The planners then worked with Air Force leaders to determine the best course of action moving forward; AFMEDCOM was the solution.