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AFMED reaches initial operational capability

  • Published
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

Air Force Medical Command, or AFMED, reached its initial operational capability, or IOC, Oct. 1, 2023, in an organizational restructure designed to improve both readiness and health care delivery support.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Gen. David W. Allvin, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, signed Program Guidance Letter 23-04, providing their direction to transform Air Force Surgeon General Headquarters Management Functions to operate more effectively in the Military Health System following the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Section702 changes.

In what will be a deliberate, multi-phase approach, this first significant step, redesignated the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency as the Air Force Medical Agency, and established conditions for IOC. Planners will continue their work to determine the authorities, command relationships and formal organizational structure that will signal full operational capability, scheduled for Oct. 1, 2024.

Honorable Kristyn E. Jones, the acting Under Secretary of the Air Force attended the Aug. 14 to 18, 2023, AFMED strategy planning conference. Following the conference, Honorable Jones, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, said, “As we (the Department of the Air Force) optimize for great power competition, medical support is at the forefront. This team deliberately stood up Air Force Medical Command, simultaneously emphasizing the readiness of our force and meeting DHA’s healthcare delivery needs and laying the groundwork to achieve unity of effort across the medical enterprise.”

At FOC, AFMED will establish the Air Force Surgeon General as the AFMED commander with two subordinate AFMED regional commanders to improve how the Air Force Medical Service and medical senior leaders support Air Force and Space Force medical readiness interests. Additionally, AFMED will help support the Defense Health Agency in delivering the health care benefit in military treatment facilities at DAF installations.

“There are multiple priorities with many stakeholders,” said Brig. Gen. Jeanine Ryder, who is positioned to be one of two AFMED regional commanders, “AFMED will allow some of these challenges to be brought to a general officer for support, advocacy, and communication with stakeholders. It will allow our current MTF directors and medical group commanders to focus on their mission and allow those at the senior level to work the multi-layer issues with DHA leadership.”

Ultimately, AFMED will provide necessary medical command authority to organize, train, and equip for the future fight, maximize AFMS focus for the Air Force Force Generation medical support and provide the Defense Health Agency with an Air Force-led intermediate management structure to exercise authority, direction, and control over military treatment facilities; and improve deconfliction and prioritization of complex healthcare delivery and readiness, according to the PGL.

With inputs from senior Air and Space Force leaders, AFMED planners will continue developing the organization’s structure and command authorities in advance of FOC.

“The proposed final AFMED structure, lines of authority, and way forward will then need to go through consideration by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Chief of Space Operations, with the ultimate decision being made by the Secretary of the Air Force,” said Col. Michael Fea, DAF’s Medical Operations deputy director.

While the standup of AFMED brings significant change for the AFMS, wing and medical group commanders and MTF staff will not see immediate changes in day-to-day operations. Likewise, command and control of medical forces did not change at IOC.

At the AFMS headquarters level, IOC required several changes, including an DAF-approved implementation plan that provides strategic level guidance and direction, and paved the way for Ryder, who was the AFMRA commander, to become the AFMED Agency commander. She will eventually assume the duties of one of the AFMED regional commands (AFMED Bravo). Brig. Gen. Thomas Harrell, 59th Medical Wing commander, is postured to become the other AFMED regional commander (AFMED Alpha).

“As AFMED takes shape, more capabilities will be added to flesh out its eventual structure with the desired end-state of [two AFMED regional commands] functioning to support the MTFs and responsive to the AFMED commander,” said Harrell. “By [full operational capability], AFMED should be the service interface focused on medical readiness issues, collaborating with DHA network activities underneath a dual-hatted network director and AFMED commander to generate unity of effort between AFMED and DHA network staffs.”

“We will be deliberate in our planning and provide transparent communication,” said Ryder. “This will be done in a phased approach to ensure we continue to meet mission requirements as well as take care of our medical Airmen, professionally and personally.”

For more information, please access the AFMED Frequently Asked Questions(Note: This site is restricted and requires a common access card; users without a common access card will receive a website error message)