This report examines the lessons learned in terms of training, doctrine, and force structure from Operation Sea Angel (OSA), an operation comprising Marine forces supported by Army and Air Force elements, that the United States launched to provide assistance when Cyclone Marian struck Bangladesh in April 1991. In terms of training, OSA indicated that many combat skills are transferable to and exercised by humanitarian situations (e.g., reconnaissance, assessment, transport, and logistics), while areas like joint training, command and control, and deployment training illustrated training deficiencies. OSA clearly demonstrated some doctrinal deficiencies. Doctrine at the joint level needs revision and development; unique aspects of humanitarian operations, including unique aspects of the joint staff planning process, are lacking. Although Army involvement in OSA was limited, several force structure lessons can be inferred. Army forces will be required to provide medical care to joint forces and the indigenous population. In addition, if OSA had been conducted in a hostile situation, or if massive troops were required, Army forces would have faced huge infrastructure problems. Finally, OSA showed that the Army cannot rely on joint forces for communications; establishing a satellite link is essential.
McCarthy, Paul, Operation Sea Angel: A Case Study. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1994. https://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR374.html. Also available in print form.
McCarthy, Paul, Operation Sea Angel: A Case Study, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, MR-374-A, 1994. As of October 07, 2021: https://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR374.html