Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program

Article excerpt

United States military forces are permitted to carry out humanitarian assistance projects and activities as part of training operations overseas. These deployments are an integral aspect of maintaining a forward U. S. military presence, ensuring operational readiness to respond to crises, and preparing the Reserve Components for their wartime missions. Humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) activities are conducted in conjunction with authorized military operations and are authorized by 10 USC Section 401.

The humanitarian and civic assistance program is a multipurpose training and engagement tool that supports objectives at the strategic, theater, operational, and tactical levels. Because of their humanitarian nature, HCA deployments serve as low cost, short duration, high impact events that engage host nation militaries, civilian ministries, and local populations in a unique and positive manner.

Such activities must promote the security interests of both the U.S. and the recipient countries, and enhance the specific operational skills of the members of the armed forces who participate. The State Department must approve all HCA initiatives. Humanitarian and civic assistance may not be provided (directly or indirectly) to any individual, group, or organization engaged in military or paramilitary activity.

Typical HCA projects include medical, dental, and veterinary care provided in rural areas, construction of rudimentary surface transport systems, well drilling and construction of basic sanitation facilities, rudimentary construction and repair of public facilities, and other medical and engineering projects. Congress appropriates specific funding to the military departments to support the HCA program.

When properly planned and conducted, they have a tremendous positive impact on the educational and medical infrastructures of an area, and bring U.S. service members in direct contact with thousands of individuals. These factors serve to advance the engagement objectives of both the U.S. country team and the unified command, while providing U.S. forces with unique training opportunities in remote areas. The U. S. Army allocates funds to United States European Command (USEUCOM) and United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) the Navy funds United States Pacific Command (USPACOM); and the United States Air Force funds United States Central Command (USCENTCOM).

On the next page are good examples of HCA projects that have been conducted in areas of responsibility of United States European Command and United States Southern Command.


United States Navy construction specialists from Naval Base Rota, Spain deployed to Ghana from March through May 2000 to build a medical and dental clinic with Ghanaian military engineers. The clinic, located in Sekondi, Ghana, was a humanitarian civil assistance initiative authorized under Title 10 U.S. Code. It addressed a need for a modern medical facility for members of the Sekondi community, and was a cooperative effort in its construction between the Ghanaian and American armed forces.

For the Rota-based construction specialists, or SeaBees (so-named because they belong to naval construction battalions or CBs), the deployment was called West Africa Training Cruise 2000 (WATC 00). The executive agent coordinating the deployment on behalf of U.S. European Command was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe.

The SeaBees' equipment and tools were shipped from Spain in March 2000. Later that month, a small group of sailors led by the project officer-in-charge, Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas D. Gomes, of Taunton, Massachusetts, arrived in Sekondi, served as an advance party to make final preparations with Ghanaian military engineers, and to begin construction with their Ghanaian counterparts.

The main body of sailors arrived in April, and completed the clinic's wails, roof, plumbing and electrical wiring. …