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Military Health System

Health Readiness & Combat Support

The Defense Health Agency is the nation’s medical Combat Support Agency, providing or augmenting medical capabilities of the Combatant Commands, the military services, federal partners and partners and allies around the world. As one of the Defense Department’s combat support agencies, DHA works to provide combat forces with capabilities they do not possess, or possess in insufficient quantity. In cooperation with the Joint Staff Surgeon and Military Department medical organizations, DHA leads the Department of Defense integrated system of readiness and health through a global health care network of military and civilian medical professionals, including more than 400 military hospitals and clinics around the world, to improve and sustain operational medical force readiness and the medical readiness of the Armed Forces.

Enhancing Military Readiness through Combat Support Capabilities

The DHA provides support for operating forces engaged in planning for, or conducting, military operations, including support during conflict or in the conduct of other military activities related to countering threats to U.S. national security. Among DHA’s most important combat support responsibilities is its work to increase readiness of U.S. forces to carry out their deployed missions.

  • The DHA supports the medical readiness of military personnel – ensuring they are healthy and safe from potential health threats through activities such as its global network of hospitals and clinics and civilian health providers, medical surveillance to detect potential health threats.
  • The DHA also supports a ready medical force – the physicians, nurses and other health professionals – who support operational forces in the field, through training and education and providing the clinical settings in which they build their skills for deployment.

The DHA fulfills its combat support responsibilities through capabilities including several components that provide crucial expertise and support to the Combatant Commands. Liaison officers within Combatant Commands enable direct contact with DHA, help the DHA better understand Combatant Command needs, and give the Combatant Commands better understanding of DHA capabilities.

The DHA is a critical enabler, working with the Military Departments to advance the health and readiness of U.S. forces and to manage the medical readiness platforms that keep the medical force ready to support operations worldwide. Working in close coordination with the Joint Staff Surgeon, the DHA provides medical-related combat support capabilities that apply across all phases of military operations, including:

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Last Updated: July 28, 2022
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