Source: New Atlanticist
By Derek S. Reveron
August 20, 2010 - For the second time this year, naval forces have been involved in major operations that have little to do with combat at sea. Instead, Sailors and Marines operating from dozens of warships have responded to natural disasters.
Earlier this year in Haiti, traditional warships delivered food, water, and medical supplies. On amphibious ships, the large flight decks designed to move Marines ashore via helicopters proved to be temporary airports for search and rescue teams; medical facilities designed to treat wounded infantry became floating clinics for sick and injured civilians. The use of naval ships as airports, hospitals, or as refugee camps must be temporary, but in a crisis, temporary relief is what is necessary.
Similar uses of militaries are occurring in response to flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Russia today. NATO is planning and executing responses to alleviate human suffering created by natural disasters, which are certainly non-traditional.
But militaries around the world are being called to serve their people and others in distress. Increasingly, militaries are including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as a core concept in how they train, equip, and organize. Militaries have reluctantly embraced these new roles because their governments expect them to provide responses to humanitarian crises, support new partners, and reduce underlying conditions that give rise to instability.
At the same time that military aircrews rescue stranded people or military engineers erect temporary housing, critics worry that development is being militarized. But, they miss the larger point that military equipment like helicopters, medical facilities, and logistic hubs are necessary for providing humanitarian assistance during a crisis. Additionally, NGOs increasingly partner with militaries in North America and Europe because militaries have the capacity to reach populations in need where NGOs can deliver their services.
Given the real stress on militaries created by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, these non-traditional operations are not needed to prove relevance for militaries in a difficult fiscal period. Instead, the inclusion of humanitarian assistance in military doctrine are driven by countries’ national strategies that increasingly link human security and national security. As I wrote in Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military, militaries are being directed to be involved in humanitarian operations.
Far from preparation for major war, humanitarian activities rely on a unique blend of charitable political culture, latent civil-military capacity, and ambitious military officers who see the strategic landscape characterized by challenges to human security, weak states, and transnational actors. Further, changes are informed by international partners that conceive of their militaries as forces for good and not simply combat forces. The United States has been slow to catch up to European governments that see the decline of coercive power and the importance of soft power today.
For the complete article, please see New Atlanticist.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are currently engaged in vital talks over the dispute relating to the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. While non-African actors are increasingly present in the negotiations, the African Union (AU) is playing a marginal role.
Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective action.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.