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Photo Information

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. (Ret.) Thomas Cullison, former deputy surgeon general, U.S. Navy, teaches fundamentals of global health engagement to a class on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Mar. 21, 2023. Marine Forces Special Operations Command hosted the course for military health care professionals at all levels to broaden their knowledge on the subject and its relationship to the special operations forces area of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez)

Photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez

MARSOC, SOCOM and the influence of Global Health Engagement

6 Jun 2023 | Cpl. Henry Rodriguez II Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

When the average person thinks about the nature of special operations forces, images of direct action, boat raids, and freefall insertion likely come to mind. While those images and ideas would not be incorrect, they pale in comparison to the true depth and range of what special operations can be.

Since its inception, Marine Forces Special Operations Command prioritized missions such as Foreign Internal Defense. The basic concept is to place a Marine Special Operations Company in a country, work with local partner forces to exchange ideas and practices, and help increase their ability to work independently to increase national and global security.

A significant and growing piece of that is the concept of global health engagement. GHE leverages the mission of the military, in this case SOF, and place resources and personnel necessary to improve the public health of both the local populous and the partner nation’s military. Lt. Cmdr. Eric Green, force health protection officer, MARSOC, stated that the goal of GHE is “to ensure our partner forces have a medically ready force as well as a ready medical force as we face infectious disease and other global health challenges together.”

Utilizing its established mission and requirements, MARSOC has been present on the front lines of global health for some time. From a force-enabling perspective, maintaining a focus on global health increases MARSOC’s ability to integrate with other nations.

“Global health engagements are an effective force multiplier for MARSOC personnel to build capacity and interoperability alongside our partner forces,” said Green.

Recently, MARSOC hosted a course on the fundamentals of global health engagement which included students ranging from special operations independent duty corpsmen to representatives from Army and Navy medicine. In addition to improving awareness of the many facets and influencers that go into GHE, the students of the course were able to meet, share experiences and build a foundation from which future collaboration can occur. During the three days, the course covered structures, processes and practices that enable engagement with a partner nation military force as well as case studies on previous successes and struggles with engagement.

This course serves as a small example of how MARSOC pushes forward the SOF and DOD initiative to prioritize GHE. MARSOC is positioned to lead the charge in the growing push by all commands to foster more GHE opportunities and increase global security.

As stated in the 2022 National Security Strategy, “By leveraging our national strengths and rallying a broad coalition of allies and partners, we will advance our vision of a free, open, prosperous, and secure world… making meaningful progress on issues like climate change, global health, and food security to improve the lives not just of Americans but of people around the world.”