The pursuit of superior lethality must be matched by a commitment to sustaining Warfighter brain health.
BIRCO is a member of the DOD team responding to National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18 NDAA) Section 734, which mandates that the Secretary of Defense conduct a Longitudinal Medical Study on Blast Pressure Exposure of Members of the Armed Forces. FY19 NDAA Section 253, and FY20 NDAA Sections 717 and 742, expand on the FY18 mandate. The collective efforts to address these requirements are the Blast Overpressure Studies (BOS); they are also a component of DOD's overarching Comprehensive Strategy and Action Plan for Warfighter Brain Health. The goal of the BOS is to improve DOD's understanding of the impact of blast pressure exposure from weapon systems on Service members' brain and auditory health and to better inform policy for risk mitigation, unit readiness, and health care decisions.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs leads the BOS effort. The program structure developed to facilitate BOS activities comprises five Lines of Inquiry (LOI), each led by an Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR): Surveillance, Weapon Systems, Exposure Environment, Blast Characterization, and Health & Performance (Figure 1).
BIRCO is the OPR for LOI 2: Weapon Systems. In this role, BIRCO's objectives are to 1) coordinate, collate, and analyze information on blast pressure resulting from high kinetic weapons and events and 2) inform strategies to account for emerging research on the effects of blast pressure exposure on health and performance.
To accomplish these objectives, BIRCO works with weapon system program managers, DOD Range Safety Offices, Unit Commanders, and subject matter experts from the medical, research, materiel development, operational, and Test & Evaluation communities to identify, coordinate, and collect information on Tier 1 Weapon Systems related to safety precautions and effects of blast exposure.
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