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Support Operations

Disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, and aid to civil authority represent practical uses of military resources in peacetime. The leadership, organization, training, and equipment that the military has developed for war give it great capability to aid people in need, either at home or abroad. Rapid response in times of crisis is an Army tradition as long as its history. Examples are Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Los Angeles riots the same year, the Midwestern floods of 1993, the San Francisco and Los Angeles earthquakes, and recurring forest fires, storms, and other catastrophes. When military forces are used in these roles, the major commands must consider the effect on combat readiness. They should rotate these missions among units and provide them the opportunity to retrain to war-fighting standards.

Nation assistance employs the capabilities of the US and other armies in political, social, and economic development as part of a broad foreign policy program. The resources of the military and its foreign counterparts have great utility in the development of a country's political, social, and economic infrastructure. Nation assistance is directed at improving the capabilities of the civilian sector of a foreign country. Development is a sufficient end in itself, but it also serves to prevent internal and external conflicts by alleviating some of their causes. The US military participates in nation assistance by employing its resources in coordination with the Agency for International Development. It also influences the participation of foreign armies in the development of their own countries by enhancing their capabilities and encouraging their sense of public service. Commanders must be wary of expecting more from nation assistance than it can deliver. This is a military program in support of the recipient nation conducted under the leadership of other agencies of the US government. It is important and useful, but it is not a total solution to another country's problems.

Foreign humanitarian assistance programs relieve or reduce the results of natural or man-made disasters or other conditions such as human pain, disease, hunger, or deprivation that might present a serious threat to life or result in great property damage or loss. Humanitarian assistance provided by US forces is limited in scope and duration. It is designed to supplement or complement the efforts of the host nation civil authorities or agencies that may have the primary responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance. Most foreign humanitarian assistance is conducted as joint or multinational operations. The most common operations are disaster relief and refugee programs. The US Coast Guard and Navy rescued thousands of Cubans and Haitians from the seas. In Operation Safe Haven in Panama and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US Army and Marine Corps then cared for the refugees.

Security assistance has both peace- and war-related applications. This is a group of programs to improve the capabilities of foreign military forces through material transfer, funding, and education and training. Security assistance can help the recipient stabilize the peace, ameliorate conflict, and prepare for war.

In domestic support operations, the National Guard, acting under the command of the governor, has the primary responsibility for providing military assistance. As a result of the National Guard's dual status, the legal status of its members when training or performing duty as the National Guard of the state is quite different than when training or performing duty as the National Guard of the United States, which is its status as a reserve component of the Army or Air Force. The most notable difference arises when the National Guard is employed in state status to assist state and local law enforcement agencies during civil disturbances and counterdrug missions. The active Army and Air Force and their reserves are prohibited from law enforcement duties except as authorized by the Constitution. DoD policy extends this prohibition to the Navy and Marine Corps. Because of Posse Comitatus limitations, the Army and federalized California Army National Guard could not fulfill the majority of requests for assistance during the LA riots of 1992. Their inability led directly to the decision not to federalize the Florida Army National Guard during the disaster relief effort for Hurricane Andrew. This allowed continued assistance to local authorities.

In Support to Civil Law Enforcement, the military is extremely limited in the types of missions and operations it can undertake, barring a declaration of martial law. In its role as the state militia, the National Guard has the primary responsibility for providing military assistance to state and local authorities. When permitted by law, federal operations provide temporary support to domestic civil authorities. The Army has aided in quelling civil unrest in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles. Before 1986, the only mandated military role in counterdrug operations was reducing demand within the Services' own ranks. That remains the priority.

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) normally relocate threatened noncombatants from a foreign country. Although principally conducted to evacuate US citizens, NEOs may also include selective evacuation of citizens from the host nation as well as citizens from other countries. NEO methods and timing are significantly influenced by diplomatic considerations. Under ideal circumstances there may be little or no opposition; however, commanders should anticipate opposition and plan the operation like any combat operation. NEOs are similar to a raid in that the operation involves swift insertion of a force, temporary occupation of objectives, and ends with a planned withdrawal. It differs from a raid in that force used is normally limited to that required to protect the evacuees and the evacuation force. Forces penetrating foreign territory to conduct a NEO should be kept to the minimum consistent with mission accomplishment and the security of the force and the extraction and protection of evacuees.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:35:03 Zulu