Magazine article DISAM Journal

The Office of Humanitarian Assistance and Demining: Supporting Humanitarian Needs around the Globe

Magazine article DISAM Journal

The Office of Humanitarian Assistance and Demining: Supporting Humanitarian Needs around the Globe

Article excerpt

Walters, Jr.,, Tome H.

I am delighted to introduce this section of the DISAM Journal relating to the responsibilities of Defense Security Cooperation Agency's (DSCA) Office of Humanitarian Assistance and Demining (HA/D) and how it fits within our mission of security cooperation. On March 13, 1998, personnel assigned to the Defense Department's humanitarian assistance and demining programs in the Pentagon were reassigned to DSCA from the office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) pursuant to a decision reflected in the Defense Reform Initiative (DRI). The goal of the DRI was to free policy staff to concentrate on corporate level policy, planning, and oversight -- those missions were assigned to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Program management and resources were consolidated under a single program manager to capitalize on the expertise of the DSCA security assistance staff.

Humanitarian activities conducted by the Department of Defense (DoD) are not new. For a number of years, specific congressional authorizations have mandated humanitarian activities by the Department aimed at alleviating human suffering and enabling struggling nations to develop democratic government and stable economies. In addition, the U.S. military has a long history of meeting human need while seeing to the defense of the nation -- a tradition that reaches back to the leadership of General George Washington as he commanded the first American troops.

Today, in part through security cooperation programs, the DoD maintains unique operational, material, logistical, and organizational capabilities to provide humanitarian assistance worldwide. DoD's global reach, unrivaled infrastructure and highly trained and professional personnel allow the American military to respond rapidly and effectively to meet humanitarian assistance requirements in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

The Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation primarily funds DoD humanitarian assistance activities. The OHDACA programs support the U.S. military in meeting two requirements of the U.S. national security strategy and in turn, the DSCA mission. The first is to maintain a robust presence overseas aimed at shaping the international security environment in a manner that deters would-be aggressors, strengthens friends and allies, and promotes peace and stability in regions of tension. The second is for U.S. forces to respond effectively when called upon to assist the victims of storms, earthquakes and other natural or manmade disasters.

Functions accomplished by DSCA for the DoD humanitarian assistance (HA) program include management of the Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid appropriation; oversight of the geographical commanders-in-chief's (CINC's) operational demining, humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) programs, and the DoD humanitarian assistance program (HAP). …

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