July 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has activated a new field operating agency, the Medical Readiness Agency, to concentrate on ensuring the branch's medics are properly trained and its hundreds of thousands of personnel are healthy.
Two previous Field Operating Agencies, the Air Force Medical Operations Agency and the Air Force Medical Support Agency, stood down at the same ceremony last Friday in Falls Church, Va., the location of the new agency's headquarters.
The activation fulfills a requirement from the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to establish a readiness-focused organization.
"We are in exciting and historic times as we engage in multiple lines of effort to transform our organization to support a more ready Air Force," Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg. said in a news release Wednesday. "Activating AFMRA streamlines our organization from a dual-focus on health benefit delivery and readiness, to one laser-focused on readiness."
The organization will oversee medical readiness programs, expeditionary medical capabilities and readiness-related Air Force mission support requirements. In addition, it will assist the surgeon general in developing policies to support Air Force major commands and base-level unit missions.
"AFMRA lets us be more responsive to emerging readiness requirements," incoming AFMRA commander Brig. Gen. Mark Koeniger said at the ceremony. "AFMRA improves our support to the readiness mission at military treatment facilities and Air Force major commands, while also helping the Defense Health Agency take on management of the health care benefit at MTFs."
Koeniger previously commanded the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Air Force Medical Service provides care, including readiness, to around 320,000 airmen currently engaged in operations around the world. Outside of the operational environment, AFMS delivers health care to 2.6 million patients at 76 medical installations worldwide.
"Readiness is critical in all that the AFMS does," according to the Air Force on its website. "It means being fit to fly, having healthy and prepared families at home, and ensuring airmen have the equipment and expertise required to complete the mission."
During the transition of military treatment facilities to the Defense Health Agency, the Air Force will provide direct support to the agency for day-to-day administration, management and operations of treatment.
AFMRA will be headquartered in Falls Church at the DFA headquarters. Other AFMRA operations are split between Falls Church and the former AFMOA offices in San Antonio. Future locations for the organization are still being determined. AFMRA is expected to reach full operation next year.
"We activate AFMRA with our eyes on the future," Hogg said. "We will continue to provide world class readiness support and modernize our capabilities to meet the demands of the Air Force we need."