A Caveat on the Special Forces Medical Manual

The 1982 U.S. Army medical manual for special forces presented in Secrecy News yesterday is dangerously misleading and it should not be used in practice, one expert in military medicine warned.

“That manual (pdf) is a relic of sentimental and historical interest only, advocating treatments that, if used by today’s medics, would result in disciplinary measures,” wrote Dr. Warner Anderson, a U.S. Army Colonel (ret.) and former associate dean of the Special Warfare Medical Group.

“The manual you reference is of great historical importance in illustrating the advances made in SOF medicine in the past 25 years. But it no more reflects current SOF practice than a 25 year-old Merck Manual reflects current Family Practice. In 2007, it is merely a curiosity.”

“Readers who use some of the tips and remedies could potentially cause harm to themselves or their patients.”

“I wish you would inform my fellow Secrecy News readers of these issues, correcting any false impressions,” Dr. Anderson wrote.

A completely revised Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook was published in 2001. A second edition of that Handbook is now in preparation, said Gay Thompson, managing editor of the Handbook.