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Foreign Humanitarian Assistance (FHA)

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, disease, or privation that might present a serious threat to life or loss of property. It is sometimes in the best interests of the United States and its allies to deploy US 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. US forces are uniquely equipped and structured to provide a rapid and capable response when such missions arise. However, US military forces are not the primary US Government (USG) means of providing FHA. Ultimately, military participation in FHA normally only supplements the activities of US and foreign civil authorities as well as private organizations.

DOD Directive (DODD) 5100.46, Foreign Disaster Relief, dated 04 December 1975, establishes policy guidance for FHA operations. It is applicable to all Executive Branch components that are directly or indirectly responsible to the Secretary of Defense (SecDef). DODD 5100.46, Foreign Disaster Relief, defines FHA as prompt aid that can be used to alleviate the suffering of foreign disaster victims. Although DODD 5100.46, Foreign Disaster Relief, calls these activities "foreign disaster relief," the equivalent term of "foreign humanitarian assistance" is used throughout Joint Publication 3-07.6 "Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Foreign Humanitarian Assistance" [15 August 2001].

Normally FHA includes humanitarian services and transportation, to include provision of food and water, clothing, beds and bedding, temporary shelter and housing, medical material, medical and technical services, and essential service restoration. Foreign disasters may result from acts of nature (such as flood, drought, hurricane, fire, earthquake, and volcanic eruptions) or acts of man (such as civil violence and nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) accidents). Military forces may assist with relief, dislocated civilian support (refugees, displaced or stateless persons, evacuees, and other victims of conflict or manmade or natural disaster), and security or technical assistance. The latter might include such short-term tasks as communications restoration, relief supply management, provision of emergency medical care, humanitarian demining assistance, and high priority relief supply delivery.

The US military may provide humanitarian demining training and technical education programs to develop long-term indigenous demining capabilities, as well as mine awareness programs to educate the local populace on the danger of landmines. HA programs carried out on a regular basis by the Department of Defense (DOD) include the Excess Property Program (title 10, United States Code (USC), section 2547), which makes available nonlethal DOD property; the Humanitarian Assistance Program (title 10, USC, section 2561), which authorizes transportation and distribution of humanitarian supplies as well as disaster relief training and assessments, small scale construction, and other humanitarian purposes worldwide; the Denton Space Available Transportation Program (title 10, USC, section 402), which allows for military transport of privately donated humanitarian cargo; and the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA) Program (title 10, USC, section 401), which provides medical, dental, and veterinary care, construction of rudimentary surface transportation systems, well drilling and construction, and repair of public facilities.

HA provided under HCA must be in conjunction with exercises or other military operations, and must fulfill unit training requirements that incidentally create humanitarian benefits. Often, FHA operations are conducted simultaneously with other types of operations, such as peace operations, nation assistance, or noncombatant evacuation operations. Funding and legal authority for FHA will in nearly every case be a major concern for commanders, along with the conditions and standards of the end state and transition and termination of the operations.

Caution in avoiding overcommitment to programs of a long duration, such as nation assistance, with these shorter term FHA efforts is necessary. The environment of operations may be permissive, uncertain, or hostile, thus requiring attention to the principles of war as well as those of military operations other than war. Regardless of the environment, commanders at all levels will institute force protection measures that ensure the safety and security of DOD personnel. In summary, DOD HA operations may consist of ongoing, deliberate small-scale programs or contingency operations in response to natural disasters or complex humanitarian crises; these may range from small-scale to joint task force (JTF)-scale responses.

The US military has played a major role in providing FHA. Some of the many examples of military support to FHA include: the meningitis vaccination campaign in Cameroon (1991); assistance to Bangladesh following a typhoon that killed 139,000 people (Operation SEA ANGEL, 1991); construction and operation of refugee camps and feeding of Kurds in Iraq (Operations PROVIDE COMFORT I and II, 1991-2002); delivery of relief supplies to states in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, including Russia; medical support in Bosnia; delivery and security of relief supplies to Somalia, Ethiopia, and the former Yugoslavia; support to the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda (Operation SUPPORT HOPE, 1994); support during the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo and Albania (Operation SHINING HOPE, 1999); and flood relief and medical assistance in Maputo, Mozambique (Operation ATLAS RESPONSE, 2000).

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Page last modified: 12-10-2016 19:46:55 ZULU