Strengthening the Partnership

Improving Military Coordination with Relief Agencies and Allies in Humanitarian Operations

by Daniel Byman, Ian O. Lesser, Bruce R. Pirnie, Cheryl Benard, Matthew Waxman


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Many humanitarian interventions led and supported by the United States go beyond simple disaster relief and include such difficult tasks as protecting refugees, securing humanitarian aid, and restoring civil order. The U.S. Air Force often plays an important role in such complex contingency operations. This book explores how the military might improve coordination with relief agencies and with European allies in such operations. It examines the dynamics of complex contingency operations, provides an overview of the relief community, delineates barriers to better cooperation, discusses the European contribution, and recommends steps the military might take to improve coordination in future crises. Steps include improving military familiarization with key relief organizations, perhaps appointing a humanitarian advisor, establishing more centers of excellence, and bringing relief organizations into the planning process. The military should encourage information sharing with relief organizations, improve procedures for managing the flow of aid, and leverage European capabilities.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Part One

    Complex Contingency Operations and the Role of the Military

    • Chapter Two

      Characteristics of Complex Contingency Operations

    • Chapter Three

      Frequency of Conflict and Resource

    • Chapter Four

      Military Tasks in Complex Contingencies

    • Chapter Five

      Common Constraints on Operations

  • Part Two

    The Relief Community and the Military

    • Chapter Six

      Overview of the Relief Community

    • Chapter Seven

      Advantages to Better Coordination with the Relief Community

    • Chapter Eight

      Coordination Structures and Their Limits

    • Chapter Nine

      Barriers to Improved Coordination with Relief Agencies

  • Part Three

    Working with European Allies

    • Chapter Ten

      Common Constraints on Operations

  • Part Four

    Implications and Recommendations

    • Chapter Eleven

      A Strategy to Improve Coordination

  • Appendix A

    U.S. NGOs

  • Appendix B

    Major International NGOs

  • Appendix C

    French Experience and Perspectives

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE division.

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