Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Outside View: The militarization of aid
by Whitney Grespin
Arlington, Va. (UPI) Sep 27, 2012


Taiwan issues warning against Typhoon Jelawat
Taipei (AFP) Sept 27, 2012 - Taiwan on Thursday issued a warning over a strong typhoon approaching the island which could bring torrential rains and trigger landslides, a month after another heavy storm left six dead.

Residents in the north and east of the island were asked to take precautions against Typhoon Jelawat which is gaining momentum and approaching the island, the Central Weather Bureau said in a statement.

As of 0900 GMT, Jelawat was 380 kilometres (236 miles) southeast of the island's southern-most tip.

With a radius of 250 kilometres and packing winds of up to 191 kilometres an hour, the typhoon was moving north-northwest at 14 kilometres per hour.

Typhoon Saola pounded Taiwan with fierce winds and torrential rain in August that left six people dead and forced nearly the entire island to shut down.

Although aid and the military are often seen as being diametrically opposed, the skill sets and approaches that both efforts require for success are like a horse shoe, where the seemingly opposite ends are in fact closer to one another than the views and practices represented by the majority who hold space in the middle ground. Protecting the deliverers

A widely underestimated and misunderstood aspect of the successful function of non-governmental organizations and government implementing partners is the fact that in many areas NGOs need armed security escorts. While this truth is anathema to many groups and individuals, it does not make it any less necessary. The simple fact is that aid deliverers are in the business of reaching the most underserved and at-risk populations and they categorically tend to reside in the most inaccessible and often contentious areas.

In a recent posting, Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security succinctly argued that contributions made by non-military personnel are often unrecognized or underappreciated because the public often lacks an accurate understanding of what roles these individuals choose to fill, "Contrary to popular perceptions, diplomats, aid workers and civilian contractors on the battlefield arguably expose themselves to more danger on a daily basis than most members of the military serving in combat support assignments. But they receive none of the credit and few of the benefits that the latter do."

The truth is that in some places aid organizations plainly cannot build schools or dig wells or deliver medical aid if there are not "guns for hire" watching their backs. These are the same individuals who are often accused of being "mercenaries" when they protect U.S. State Department convoys but what will the general public say when they learn that those same types of firms are helping government relief agencies reach the most disenfranchised communities or that without their security services the most vulnerable populations could be ignored? These issues are not black and white and nor should be the labels placed on such protective services either.

That being said, it is important to recognize that the use of private security companies by contracted implementation partners, as well as U.S. government personnel, inherently blurs the line of impartiality of aid workers as noncombatants. Many aid workers do face the risks like the ever-present threat of kidnapping in complex or conflict environments. Often NGO workers simply do not have the training to conduct counter-surveillance and accurately assess the risks of the environments that they are working in. In instances like this the presence of private security details can effectively mitigate risks that endanger not only the NGO personnel but also the lives of the U.S. troops who are obligated to conduct search and rescue missions for U.S. nationals who have been abducted.

Getting the "what" where it needs to be

Although not popularly (or recently) known for its role in alleviating human suffering, the U.S. military is one of the most capable deliverers of aid and relief. The American military produces excellent warriors but its real strength lies in logistical capability.

The military can realize greater efficiencies through economies of scale when dealing with logistics and transportation than any humanitarian group or NGO could ever hope to achieve. Although imperfect and redundant in many ways, the U.S. military still possesses one of the most meticulously evaluated supply-and-delivery chain systems in the world. With more thoughtful application of the military's capabilities to the needs of humanitarian missions, the military could offer many valuable lessons to suppliers in the aid and development sectors.

Looking forward, it is clear that the military is preparing to shift repurpose many of its materiel assets to more humanitarian uses as the United States draws down from engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the better-explained goals is to encourage the military to prepare to respond to natural disasters in many ways, not the least of which is the repositioning of military gear from Afghanistan into other theaters the U.S. Department of Defense can efficiently respond from.

Aid as a weapons system

The Department of Defense has painstakingly assessed the efficacy of using money as a weapons system and that does break down into using aid money in a calculated manner to achieve the social or political outcomes that are desired. This paradigm emerged to the fore in the last decade, when the military realized the utility of using coalition money to defeat counterinsurgencies without creating collateral damage through such measures as job creation, infrastructure investment and the offsetting of malicious actions by offering viable alternatives.

Whether it is an intended outcome or a by-product, development is political and development often comes from aid. This progress is political in that where it goes, who it is disbursed by, what entity administers it, and what the purpose is are all value judgments that may appear calculated and that do, in fact, make a difference. Such inevitable judgments, much like the consequences of showing up with an armed escort, must be part of the calculus of aid delivery, regardless of whom or what the funding entity is.

While this increase in funding is beneficial in that it provides more resources to bolster services that assist underserved, vulnerable, and needy populations, it will likely continue to produce unintended repercussions beyond those we have already seen, such as the funneling of aid money to protection rackets run by insurgent groups and local militias. Certainly the combination of civil society and NGOs' experience with implementation alongside the military's dominance in logistical capability could be a fine marriage of convenience but there is a fine line to walk, and with aid and force becoming increasingly intertwined aid projects in the future may be markedly different from those in the past when the two were divorced.

(Whitney Grespin is an operations specialist at Atlantean, a provider of specialized services to the U.S. government and private sector clients around the world. She is also a member of the Eurasia Foundation's Young Professionals Network, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and Women in International Security.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

.


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Satellites to the rescue: Disaster monitoring network extends its services to all
London, UK (SPX) Sep 27, 2012
Building on a decade of success in making satellite data available to users for disaster response, the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters' has opened its doors even wider and is now providing universal access to the Charter during natural emergencies - a move that was initiated when the UK was leading the Charter in 2011. Any country, regardless of whether they are a Charter ... read more


DISASTER MANAGEMENT
EU grants Pakistan flood, unrest aid

Outside View: The militarization of aid

Chinese crew rescued as boat burns in Japan

Satellites to the rescue: Disaster monitoring network extends its services to all

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Pigs' revenge as 'Angry Birds' makers launch new game

Basing of first US Space Fence facility announced

US Bank admits 'attacks,' says customer data safe

Date palm juice: A potential new 'green' anti-corrosion agent for aerospace industry

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Scientists say fish populations can still be saved

Coral Hotspots Found in Deepwater Canyons off Northeast US Coast

El Nino may soon return: UN weather agency

Google offers virtual dives in world's coral reefs

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Rudolph unfed loathes rain, dear

Melting Arctic ice cap at record low

'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn

Warming ocean could start big shift of Antarctic ice

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Ex-Aussie PM criticises UN on food security

Argentina looks to soybean windfall

Italy's Slow Food movement prepares giant food fair

Global Grain Production at Record High Despite Extreme Climatic Events

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Rare Great Earthquake in April Triggers Large Aftershocks All Over the Globe

Large 2012 earthquake triggered temblors worldwide for nearly a week

Cutting-Edge Technology Makes NASA's Hurricane Mission a Reality

Study reveals complex rupture process in surprising 2012 Sumatra quake

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Nigerian environmental activist receives human rights prize

U.S. expands its secret war in Africa

24-hour curfew imposed in restive Nigeria state

Endless Congo war flares anew amid mutiny

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Human Brains Develop Wiring Slowly, Differing from Chimpanzees

Breaking up harder to do on Facebook

Genetic mutation may have allowed early humans to migrate throughout Africa

Ancient tooth may provide evidence of early human dentistry




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement