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Transformation and Homeland Security: Dual Challenges for the US Army

Civilian and Military Cooperation in Complex Humanitarian Operations

Effects-Based Operations for Joint Warfighters

Space Operations in Support of the Objective Force

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Sarah E. Archer, RN, DrPH
Military Review
March-April 2003

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Sarah E. Archer, RN, DrPH, is a humanitarian assistance and public health civilian subject matter expert for Northrop Grumman Information Technologies.
She also is a Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Indianapolis; a visiting faculty member at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia; Joint Special Operations University, Hurlburt AFB, Florida; Marine Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia; and Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She received a B.S. from Indiana University, an M.P.H. from the University of Michigan, and a DrPH. from the University of California at Berkeley, California. She has served in humanitarian assistance in Angola, Bangladesh, Jordan, Kosova, and Rwanda.

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Civilian and Military Cooperation in Complex Humanitarian Operations

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 training 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 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 internatioonal 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. Malnutrition can ensue quickly in local areas and may degenerate into widespread starvation.6

Humanitarian crises can result from a combination of manmade and natural disasters, such as large numbers of people experiencing droughts, cyclones, crop failures, or floods even as they are engulfed in civil war, are invaded, or as their governments fail. Recent complex emergencies have occurred in Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines, southern Africa, and Sudan. Natural disasters alone can overwhelm the resources of already severely stressed governments, with sadly predictable effects on the people. The earthquakes in Central Asia and Hurricane Mitch are examples.

"Humanitarian assistance organization" (HAOs) is used here as a collective term that includes intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental humanitarian agencies (NGHAs), and NGOs involved in providing humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies and disasters. These are the definitions of humanitarian organizations used by the Sphere Project.7,8 IGO replaces the previously used international organization (IO) because of confusion with the military's acronym for information operations (IO).

NGHAs are the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The ICRC, a unique humanitarian organization based in Geneva, is the civilian organization designated in the 1949 Geneva Conventions to ensure that prisoners of war and civilians in war are treated in accordance with international humanitarian law.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), also headquartered in Geneva, has 178 national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society affiliates, one of which is the American Red Cross (ARC). The ARC responds to local, national, and international disasters; provides support for military personnel and their families; and offers extensive training opportunities in disaster assistance, shelter management, mass feeding, damage assessment, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and mother and baby care.

The March 2003 UN guidelines defines humanitarian assistance as aid to an affected population that seeks, as its primary purpose, to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis-affected population. Humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the basic humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality."9

The United Nations Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is often chosen as the lead agency to assist and coordinate HAOs' planning and operations in the complex emergency.

UNHCR is the organization charged with the responsibility for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). In JP 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, the term refugee is defined as "a person who, by reason of real or imagined danger, has left their home country or country of nationality and is unwilling or unable to return."10 IDPs are defined in the same JP as "any person who has left their residence by reason of real or imagined danger but has not left the territory of their own country."11

These definitions in JP 3-07.6 have changed from previous U.S. military definitions of refugees and IDPs. These revised and internationally accepted definitions will also appear in the next edition of JP 1-02. Because of the Dayton Accords or General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S. military has begun to use the acronym DPRE for displaced persons, refugees, and evacuees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) was created in 1994 to provide human rights monitors to investigate and to prevent abuses of human rights; to support UN Special Prosecutors by collecting and verifying evidence of crimes against humanity; to provide education about international human rights law and practice; and to support host countries in administering justice.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides long-term expert consultation and material support in collaboration with the host government and key host country nationals for projects to strengthen health and medical services, especially for children and women; water purification and distribution; and sanitation.

The World Food Program (WFP) obtains, transports, and stockpiles food. Direct assistance, the face-to-face distribution of WFP food at household or camp level, is done by NGOs or other civilian organizations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the UN agency charged with promoting and protecting the health of the world's population. WHO's Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action responds to complex emergencies and natural disasters.

NGOs are "organizations, both national and international, which are constituted separately from the government of the country in which they are founded."12 NGOs are not aligned with any government. Many employ host country nationals as well as personnel from other countries and so are international themselves.

Every NGO is accountable to its donor constituency and headquarters personnel, who establish the NGO's priorities and fund the programs the NGO undertakes in cooperation with the host country's government. To ensure the principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality, and to maintain their independence, many NGOs avoid contact with and might show hostility toward military personnel in times of war.

International NGOs that are based in more than one country include CARE International, International Save the Children Alliance, and Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF). CARE International, one of the largest and most effective NGOs in the world, has its Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium, and has 11 independently registered and governed member organizations in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. CARE has programs in 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. CARE's development assistance projects focus on agriculture and natural resources; education, particularly female literacy; emergency assistance; health; nutrition; small economic activity development; and water, sanitation, and environmental health.13

There are many kinds of NGOs. Faith-based organizations might be international, national, or local, and are sponsored by religious groups and their affiliates. Examples include the Adventist Development and Assistance Agency International (ADRA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Church World Services (CWS), International Islamic Relief Organization, and World Vision International (WV).

Some national NGOs that are based in one country provide assistance only in that country or even in one community. National NGOs vary in size from a family-run organization functioning in a local area, or a religious group serving its local community. The development of national NGOs is a sign of developing civil society, especially in countries of the former Soviet Union.

More than 30,000 HAOs are at work in the world today. HAOs are financed by private individual or group donations, foundation grants, and government contracts. HAOs are accountable to their donors for program activities. HAOs provide technical and materiel development projects and humanitarian assistance, in cooperation with the host nation government and private groups. HAOs are active in most countries long before a complex emergency occurs, remain active throughout the complex emergency when it is safe to do so, and continue to serve the people long after the complex emergency ends. HAO activities are thrust upon the world's consciousness when the CNN syndrome brings HAO representatives into high media focus. Some NGOs, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, which was awarded the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), specialize in disaster and assistance operations. Others, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, focus on human rights violations.

Three consortia coordinate numerous NGO activities. Organizations whose mission is to assist HAOs with coordination of activities include the American Council for Voluntary International Action, known as InterAction. InterAction is a coalition of more than 160 primarily U.S.-based assistance, development, and relief organizations. InterAction has developed standards addressing governance, organizational integrity, communications to the U.S. public, finances, management practice, human resources, program, public policy, and implementation.14 Another coordinating organization is the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA). This is a global network of human rights, humanitarian, and development NGOs that focuses its information exchange and advocacy efforts primarily on humanitarian affairs and refugee issues."15 Both of these organizations work with the Standing Committee for Humanitarian Response in the Sphere Project, which since 1997 has developed and modified minimum standards in the vital areas of humanitarian assistance: water supply and sanitation, nutrition, food aid, shelter and site planning, and health services.16

Multinational/multilateral organizations that fund IGO and NGO activities include the European Union (EU), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); the African Union (AU); and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Bilateral governmental organizations provide development and emergency assistance to other countries either directly government-to-government or through UN agencies and NGOs. These organizations include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID); the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). IGOs, NGHAs, NGOs, and multi- or bilateral government donor agencies are lumped together as the International Community (IC).

Although IOs and NGOs have many differences in organization, funding constituencies, and methods of operation, they generally adhere to the Code of Conduct of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Assistance adopted in 2001. The code states that

    "1. The humanitarian imperative comes first. The prime motivation of our response to disaster is to alleviate human suffering.

    2. Aid is given regardless of the race, creed, or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated solely on the basis of need.

    3. Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.

    4. HAOs shall endeavor not to act as instruments of government foreign policy. In order to protect our independence, HAOs will seek to avoid dependence upon a single funding source.

    5. HAOs shall respect culture and custom.

    6. HAOs shall attempt to build disaster response on local capacities. Where possible, HAOs will strengthen these capacities by employing local staff, purchasing local materials, and trading with local companies.

    7. Ways shall be found to involve program beneficiaries in the management of assistance aid. Effective assistance and lasting rehabilitation can best be achieved where the intended beneficiaries are involved in the design, management, and implementation of the assistance program.

    8. Assistance aid must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs.

    9. HAOs hold themselves accountable to both those they seek to assist and those from whom they accept resources.

    10. In our information, publicity, and advertising activities, we shall recognize disaster victims as dignified humans, not hopeless objects."17

During the development of a complex emergency, HAOs continue working in the affected locale. Many HAO personnel have been in country for years, speak local languages, understand cultural and religious practices, and have earned the people's trust. In times of relative political and environmental stability, HAO programs focus on microeconomic development and strengthening the agricultural, education, health, and industrial sectors to bring about improved and sustainable standards of living.

As conditions that lead to a complex emergency evolve, HAOs in country must shift the emphasis of their programs to address the developing and inevitable humanitarian crisis. Some HAO personnel, especially national personnel, will remain in the country or countries experiencing the complex emergency. As the security situation deteriorates, most expatriate HAO personnel leave, often going to neighboring countries to facilitate their timely return when it is safe. When assurance of security for personnel and supplies is given by the military, HAO personnel arrive to provide emergency humanitarian relief: food, water, shelter, medical care, counseling, and clothing. HAOs continue working in the country long after the emergency has ended, order has been restored, and the military who were sent to help have departed. In the reconstruction period following the complex emergency, HAO program activities gradually shift from providing relief to focusing on development.

An effective coordinated effort between civilian agencies and the military in complex emergencies is essential. During the complex emergency and immediately afterwards, the security situation may be so volatile that military personnel will have to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to civilians. Even in these dire circumstances, civilian-military interdependence is necessary. The military's primary responsibility is to establish and maintain a safe and stable environment. Once this is accomplished, civilian humanitarian personnel can assist the affected population by meeting their essential needs and by helping to rebuild their society. These specialized roles of civilian humanitarian and military personnel, although clearly different, are absolutely interdependent. The Guidelines issued by the United Nations on 20 March 2003, include the following key concepts:

    "iii. A humanitarian operation using military assets must retain its civilian nature and character, while military assets will remain under military control. The operation as a whole must remain under the overall authority and control of the responsible humanitarian organization. This does not infer any civilian command and control over military assets.

    "iv. Humanitarian works should be performed by humanitarian organizations. Insofar as military organizations have a role to play in supporting humanitarian work, it should be to the extent possible, not encompass direct assistance, in order to retain a clear distinction between the normal functions and roles of military stakeholders."18 Direct assistance is the face-to-face distribution of goods and services. Military assistance and support are often essential in indirect assistance which does not interface with the population served and consists of such activities as transport of humanitarian goods or relief personnel, and infrastructure support such as road repairs, airspace management, and power generation.19

The differentiation of civilian humanitarian and military roles during and after a complex emergency is essential for a number of reasons. The military is an instrument of its nation's foreign policy. As Priest describes, this is increasingly the case for the U.S. military.20 HAOs are not and must not be mistaken to be instruments of any nation's foreign policy. Their guiding principles are humanity, impartiality, and neutrality. This role differentiation is made explicit in the [General guidance for interaction between United Nations personnel and military actors in the context of the crisis in Iraq] issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) on 21 March 2003:

"Recent conflicts have shown that coordination between humanitarian and military actors, particularly in the early phase of a conflict, can be essential for the timely and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and to help ensure the protection of civilians. . . . While interaction between civil and military actors on the ground is both a reality and a necessity, it is important to emphasize the constraints and limitations of civilian organizations in this respect. A perception of adherence to key humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality is of immediate practical relevance for humanitarian workers on the ground, e.g., in ensuring safe and secure operations, obtaining access across combat lines, and being able to guarantee equitable aid distribution to all vulnerable populations. Therefore, it is essential that there be maximum certainty and clarity for UN personnel involved in daily contacts or liaison arrangements with military forces operating in Iraq. As provided for in his terms of reference, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Iraq, who is also the Designated Official (DO), will oversee all liaison with military forces."21

Thus, the civilian humanitarian point of contact (POC) for military units in Iraq is clearly designated.

Recent military deployments in Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq underscore the importance of the military's enormous planning, communications, security, and logistic capabilities to provide support for civilian humanitarian assistance efforts. Military units continue to support local governments, civil agencies, UN agencies, IGOs, NGHAs, and NGOs to help people cope with the effects of complex emergencies. Many military deployments will involve peace operations (peacemaking, peacekeeping, or peace enforcement) as well as support for civilian humanitarian assistance efforts in response to disasters. Although the roles of the humanitarian community and the military must remain distinct, as the number of complex emergencies increases, the necessity for effective collaboration between the two groups will expand.

Because the U.S. military is an instrument of U.S. foreign policy, military personnel often interact directly with other U.S. Government agencies in countries affected by a complex emergency. The Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are often in the forefront of humanitarian assistance activities in places where the U.S. military is also involved. For this reason, a more detailed discussion of USAID's emergency response capability is appropriate.

USAID was established in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and as amended. In times of relative stability, USAID funds development projects in many countries throughout the world. These projects are generally implemented by international or national partner NGOs in many countries. When a complex emergency arises, and when directed to do so, the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), which is part of the Bureau for Humanitarian Response, provides foreign disaster assistance and coordinates the U.S. Government's response. OFDA's mandate is "to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce the economic impact of disasters."22

OFDA works directly with the host nation government and in coordination with UN organizations, other IGOs, NGHAs, other donor governments, and NGOs. If the disaster warrants, OFDA deploys its own Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) composed of disaster assistance specialists to assess the situation and recommend actions. These teams provide an operational presence capable of carrying out sustained response activities; develop and implement OFDA's field response strategy based on DART mission; coordinate the movement and consignment of U.S. Government assistance commodities; coordinate U.S. government assistance efforts with the affected country, other donor countries, assistance organizations, and when present, military organizations; fund assistance organizations (when delegated the funding authority); and monitor and evaluate U.S. Government-funded assistance authorities.23

Thus, NGOs working in a complex emergency might be funded wholly or in part by DART, with the accountability that accompanies financial support. Humanitarian organizations must weigh the effects of financial support from a government or other sources against their independence and impartiality. Some humanitarian organizations do not accept any government funding.

Many humanitarian organizations might be working on development projects in the host country when a complex emergency occurs. At that time, an umbrella organization, often an IGO such as OCHA or UNHCR, will assume a coordination role to facilitate the most effective use of NGO and donor resources.

Military civil affairs personnel will find the humanitarian community's lead agency an efficient point of contact with the humanitarian community. In some instances the humanitarian community will already have established its own coordination center in which the military can take part. In the case of Iraq, the designated POC is the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Iraq, who is also the Designated Official (DO).

If the humanitarian community has not yet established a coordination center or if the military so chooses, the military can develop a civil-military operations center (CMOC); civilian-military information center (CIMIC), a NATO-term; humanitarian affairs coordination center (HACC); or humanitarian operations coordination center (HOCC). The title and sponsorship of the venue for civil-military coordination is unimportant, as long as such a venue exists.

Since many large international NGOs have a wide repertoire of competencies, military civil affairs personnel should inquire what programs each NGO conducts in a given area of the country. Because NGOs often compete with each other for scarce resources, coordination among NGOs might not appear optimal from a military point of view. NGOs are independent organizations and have their own agendas and constituencies. However, all recognize that collaboration is the best way to assist the people whom they serve. Effective communication and collaboration among civilian humanitarian organizations and between civilian and military organizations is essential. Humanitarian organizations' personnel and resources can be of immense help to the military by caring for civilian populations while the military works to restore a safe and secure environment. Neither civilian humanitarian organizations nor the military can function as effectively alone as they can in concert.

This interdependence is spelled out clearly by General (Retired) George A. Joulwan and Christopher C. Shoemaker, former director of Force Integration, Military Stabilization Program, in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina: "Perhaps the overarching lesson to be gleaned from the first two years of the conflict prevention operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that the military, no matter how effective and how efficient it might be, cannot by itself create the conditions for lasting peace. . . . The daunting challenges of building the kinds of institutions and processes that underlie the Dayton agreement, and, indeed, that are at the heart of conflict prevention are far beyond the abilities of any military. The military can bring about an absence of war; the military cannot bring about an enduring peace. The interaction between the military structure and the civilian structure thus becomes critical to the success of conflict prevention."24

Host nation, international, bilateral government, nongovernment civilian organizations and military forces are essential partners in restoring and maintaining peace following a complex emergency. Until these organizations can work together to facilitate civilians' ability to run their country in a peaceful and reasonably effective manner, the military must remain as peacekeepers or occupation forces. Effective civil-military interdependence is the military's ticket home from Bosnia, Kosova, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other complex emergencies yet to come.

1. Joint Publication (JP) 3-07.6, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Foreign Humanitarian Assistance (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [GPO],15 August 2001), vii.
2. I use joint doctrine as the reference of choice throughout this paper since most operations involve joint participation of U.S. military forces as well as multinational coalition partners.
3. Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19.
4. Joint Task Force (JTF) Commander's Handbook for Peace Operations (Fort Monroe, VA: Joint Warfighting Center; 16 June 1997), 11-12.
5. "Guidelines on the Use of Military and Civilian Defence Assets to Support UN Humanitarian Activities in Complex Emergencies," UN Relief Web, on-line at
8712A846DEC1256CF 000394E45
, 20 March, 2003.
6. Andrew S. Natsios, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997), 7. Natsios is currently the Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
7. The Sphere Project: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Oxford, UK: Oxfam Publishing, 2000), 313.
8. PVO is a term used almost exclusively by U.S. entities. PVO is not used in JP 3-07.6.
9. Relief Web, Guidelines, 1.
10. JP 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, (Washington, DC: GPO, 23 March 1994).
11. Ibid.
12. Sphere Project , 313.
13. On-line at
14. On-line at
15. On-line at
16. Sphere Project.
17. Ibid. , 34-317.
18. Relief Web, Guidelines, 6.
19. Ibid., 1.
20. Priest .
21. "General guidance for interaction between United Nations personnel and military actors in the context of the crisis in Iraq," UN Relief Web, on-line at
256CF60070DBD0, 21 March 2003.
22. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Humanitarian Response (BHR); Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment and Response (Washington, DC: August 1998), xix. On-line at
23. George A. Joulwan and Christopher C. Shoemaker, Civilian-Military Cooperation in the Prevention of Deadly Conflict: Implementing Agreements in Bosnia and Beyond (New York: Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, December 1998), 36-37.
24. Ibid.

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