Academic journal article Military Review

Civilian and Military Cooperation in Complex Humanitarian Operations

Academic journal article Military Review

Civilian and Military Cooperation in Complex Humanitarian Operations

Article excerpt

THE INTERDEPENDENCE of civilian and military organizations that respond to increasingly frequent and devastating complex emergencies around the world is becoming more evident. Better understanding of cultural differences between civilian humanitarian assistance organizations (HAOs) and the military could help HAOs' personnel and the military work together more effectively in complex emergencies, as well as in peace operations, disaster response, consequence management, and humanitarian assistance.

Why is this cooperation and coordination of civilian and military organizations necessary? Joint Publication 3-07.6 Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Humanitarian Assistance begins with these words:

"The purpose of foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) is to relieve or reduce the results of natural or manmade disasters or other endemic conditions such as human suffering, diseases, or privation that might present a serious threat to life or loss of property. It is sometimes in the best interest of the United States and its allies to deploy U.S. forces to provide humanitarian assistance (HA) to those in need. In addition, humanitarian and political considerations are likely to make HA operations commonplace in the years ahead." (1,2) These words have proven to be all too true as we move into the 21st century.

Efforts are underway through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and military-sponsored seminars and publications and military mining exercises, such as Prairie Warrior at the Command and General Staff College and Purple Hope at the Joint Forces Staff College, to help civilians and military personnel working in HAOs better understand each other. More joint training is essential for improved mutual understanding. Effective humanitarian assistance operations require civilian and military cooperation to facilitate unity of effort and to attain desired end states.

Dana Priest, author of The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military, stated, "As the U.S. Army's experience in Kosovo shows, the mind-set, decision-making and training of infantry soldiers rarely mixes well with the disorder inherent in civil society. This mismatch of culture and mission can distort the goal of rebuilding a country." (3) This is a lesson that we all must remember in the rebuilding of Iraq.

General John M. Shalikashvili, then Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognized the need for good cooperation when he said, "What's the relationship between a just arrived military force and the NGO and PVO that might have been working in a crisis-torn area all along? What we have is a partnership. If you are successful, they are successful; and, if they are successful, you are successful. We need each other." (4)

Complex Emergencies

Complex emergencies are defined by the March 2003 UN Guidelines on the Use of Military And Civilian Defence Assets to Support UN Humanitarian Activities in Complex Emergencies as "a humanitarian crisis in a country, region or society where there is total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which requires an international response that goes beyond the mandate or capacity of any single and/or ongoing UN country programme." (5) Complex emergencies have become much more frequent since the end of the Cold War. They share additional troubling characteristics, including--

* Reappearance of nationalistic, territorial, religious, or ethnic ambitions or frictions such as occurred in the former Yugoslavia and are predicted in Iraq.

* Mass population movements as people are internally displaced or become refugees in another country while searching for security, food, water, and other essentials.

* Severe disruption of the economic system and destruction of vital infrastructure.

* General decline in food security resulting from political decisions, discriminatory policies, food shortages, disruption of agriculture, droughts, floods, inflation, and lack of finances. …

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