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Report of the 55th International Military Veterinary Symposium

Marseille, France - May 18-22, 2009


International Veterinary Corps Chiefs or senior representatives. (from left to right):
1. Lt-Colonel (LTC) Dietmar Rackl (Austria)
2. Lt-Colonel (LTC) Emil Hanzen (Croatia)
3. Major (MAJ) Branko Dolenc (Slovenia)
4. Major (MAJ) Hassan Fassil (Morocco)
5. Colonel (COL) Niels Nielsen (Denmark)
6. Colonel (COL) Bas Steltenpool (The Netherlands)
7. Brig. Gen. (BG) Theresa Casey (United States Air Force)
8. Lt-General (LTG) Jean-Yves Kervella (France)
9. Brig. Gen. (BG) Timothy Adams (United States Army)
10. Brig. Gen. (BG) Giuseppe Vilardo (Italy)
11. Colonel (COL) Martin Hoffmeister (Germany)
12. Colonel (COL) Rysard Jeleniewicz (Poland)
13. Lt-Colonel (LTC) Miguel Stevens (Belgium)
14. Colonel (COL) Odd Knaevelsrud (Norway)
Not shown - Dr. Mika Aho (Finland)

More than one hundred military veterinary personnel from fourteen countries converged on Marseille, France, from May 18 through May 22, 2009 for the 55th International Military Veterinary Medical Symposium (IMVMS). The inaugural IMVMS was held in 1952 in Chiemsee, Germany. For the next forty plus years, the conference was held in Germany and sponsored by the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. However, for the last fourteen years, the symposium has rotated between Germany and other European countries, to include Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, and now France. This year, attendees came from the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Norway, Morocco, and Finland. The attending veterinarians also represented the different services, Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition to the scientific education program, the overarching goal of the conference was to promote strategic engagement of the United States, European and North African nations, foster interoperability among allies, and encourage cooperative relationships among interservice and international military veterinarians.

The 2009 conference was co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and the French Medical Service Veterinary Corps. The theme of this year’s symposium was “Pathways to Global Health”. The focus of the conference was military operational veterinary medicine and world-wide veterinary “One Health” initiatives. Brig. Gen. Timothy ADAMS, Chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, discussed the necessity of partnerships between U.S. Army veterinarians and veterinarians from other services, agencies, and nations.

“The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps has a key role in military medicine and stability operations as well as humanitarian assistance in today's world,” said Brig. Gen. ADAMS. He stressed the need for cooperation, collaboration and innovation among allied and friendly nations in order to, “contribute to peace and stability around the world as part of a premier military medical team”.

Brig. Gen. Adams opens the 55th IMVMS.

Along with Brig. Gen. ADAMS, the hosts of the symposium were Veterinary General Inspector (Major General) Jean-Yves KERVELLA, Chief of the French Medical Service Veterinary Corps, and Col. Leslie HUCK, Commander of the Europe Regional Veterinary Command, U.S. Army Europe. In addition to the fourteen military Veterinary Corps Chiefs or senior representatives, including Brig. Gen. Giuseppe VILARDO, Chief of the Italian Army Veterinary Corps, numerous VIPs and distinguished speakers attended some or all of the conference. U.S. distinguished attendees included Brig. Gen. Theresa CASEY, U.S. Air Force Assistant Surgeon General for Modernization; Dr. James COOK, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association; and Dr. Michael CHADDOCK, Deputy Director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. French distinguished attendees included Medical General Inspector (Maj. Gen.) Marc MORILLON, Director of the French Forces Institute of Tropical Medicine; Brig. Gen. Bernard DAVOUST, Chief of Veterinary Bureau of the Regional Health Services in Toulon; Brig. Gen. Philippe ULMER, Chief of Veterinary Bureau of the Regional Health Services in Metz; and Pr. Frédéric BEUGNET, Technical Director of Merial Europe.

The venue for the congress was the highly esteemed and scientifically significant French Forces Institute of Tropical Medicine (Le Pharo) in Marseille. Introductory lectures by senior veterinary leaders and distinguished speakers commenced Monday, May 18. The keynote Brigadier General MCNELLIS Memorial Lecture that morning was given by Dr. Bernard SALAMONE, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service. A retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, Dr. SALAMONE spoke about being successful as a career military veterinary officer and his personal experience of loss and renewal following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. After the morning lectures, an international Corps Chief Luncheon was held at Fort Ganteaume, an historic French garrison originally constructed in the 17th century. That afternoon, breakout sessions for smaller groups were held, followed by an Icebreaker social event in the evening. The Icebreaker took place at Les Bains Militaires, a French military beach club on the Marseille coast where the participants were able to mingle and watch the sun set over the Mediterranean.

Tuesday, May 19, and Thursday, May 21, were devoted to lecture sessions. Symposium speakers came from a variety of veterinary backgrounds representing government, industry, and the military. Military speakers included junior and senior officers from many different countries. Speaker topics covered a broad spectrum of military veterinary medicine issues to include clinical medicine and surgery, food safety and defense, public health and zoonotic disease prevention, and veterinary support to the full spectrum of military contingencies ranging from humanitarian assistance to combat operations. A Corps Chief Reception for senior military leaders was held Tuesday evening at Fort Ganteaume. Special distinguished guests at that event included Medical General Inspector (Maj. Gen.) Erick DAL, Director of Regional Health Services in Toulon, Kathleen RILEY, the U.S. Consul General in Marseille, and Mrs Elske PALMIERI, representing sir Jean-Claude GAUDIN, senator and mayor of Marseille.


Veterinary General Inspector Kervella receives
a retirement award from Brig. Gen. Adams.

Wednesday, May 20, and Friday, May 22, were dedicated to group tours and a staff ride. On Wednesday, the entire group was transported by bus to visit the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde basilica then on to Aubagne, for a special tour of the headquarters of the French Foreign Legion. The conference attendees were treated to a unique presentation on the history and current missions of the French Foreign Legion, a performance by the French Foreign Legion band, and a special tour of the French Foreign Legion museum. Then on Friday, the conference participants had very special staff ride by boat from the Marseille old harbor (Vieux Port) along the Calanques coast to Frioul Island to visit the old Caroline Hospital. It is there that patients with infectious diseases, particularly Bubonic Plague and Yellow Fever, were quarantined in the 18th and 19th centuries to prevent the spread of epidemics into Marseille.

The 55th IMVMS concluded Friday night with a formal military banquet at Fort Ganteaume. After enjoying fine French cuisine, military awards were bestowed and gifts were exchanged. Two particularly noteworthy events during the banquet were the promotion of Colonel Philippe ULMER of the French Veterinary Corps to Brigadier General, and a retirement gift presented by Brigadier General ADAMS to Veterinary General Inspector (Maj. Gen.) Jean-Yves KERVELLA for over thirty years of honorable service to his nation in the French Veterinary Corps. The ambiance of Marseille and the fraternity of international military colleagues created a week that will be remembered for years to come. Without question, this symposium met its goals of promoting the strong bonds among allied and friendly nations and reinforcing the solidarity of our collective missions in force protection and global health.


Lieutenant Colonel Martin M. LAGODNA

Deputy Commander
Europe Regional Veterinary Command
U.S. Army Europe