1Director, Preventive Medicine Residency Program, US Army Public Health Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
History has taught us that the threat of communicable diseases to operational readiness should not be underestimated. The unique operational challenges of a decade at war in Southwest Asia have left us with many new lessons about prevention and mitigation of disease. The successes of military immunization programs demonstrated the successful application of military science to modern combat. Historic maladies such as tuberculosis and malaria continue to challenge our Army health leadership while new challenges with diseases like Q fever and rabies led to questions about our preparedness. These conflicts also brought awareness of issues about the broader deployed community, and the often unique risks that arise when US service members interact more frequently with foreign militaries, local nationals, and third country nationals. Application of these lessons to predeployment training and integration into leadership decision-making will improve our ability to maintain force readiness in future conflicts and adapt Army policy to current evidence and intelligence.