Humanitarian assistance (HA) is different things to different
audiences. It may be confused with peace operations, given the
development of crises in Somalia, the Former Republic of Yugoslavia,
and Northern Iraq. Although HA operations may be conducted
simultaneously with peace operations, they are different in nature and
This chapter discusses the terminology and types of operations,
range of operations, environments of operations, and principles of
operations peculiar to HA. United States (US) military forces tasked
for HA operations include all active and reserve components of the US
Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and, when applicable, the Coast
Guard. The objective of these military forces is to execute
humanitarian missions when directed by cognizant legal authority.
HA includes programs conducted to relieve or reduce the results of
natural or man-made disasters or other endemic conditions such as
human pain, disease, hunger, or privation that might present a serious
threat to life or result in great damage or loss of property. HA
provided by US forces is limited in scope and duration. The assistance
is designed to supplement or complement the efforts of the host nation
civil authorities or agencies that may have the primary responsibility
for providing HA1.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are predominantly European
national or international, nonprofit citizen's voluntary
organizations. They are involved in such diverse activities as
education, technical projects, relief, and refugee and development
programs. Examples of NGOs include, but are not limited to, religious;
peace, disarmament, environmental, development, and human rights
Private voluntary organizations (PVOs) are private, US-based,
nonprofit organizations involved in humanitarian efforts including,
but not limited to, relief, development, refugee assistance,
environment, public policy, or global education.
International organizations (IOs) are organizations, such as
the United Nations (UN) and the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC), with global influence.
Peace operations is the umbrella term that encompasses three
types of activities--activities with predominantly diplomatic lead
(preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peace building) and two
complementary, predominantly military, activities (peacekeeping and
Peacekeeping (PK) operations are neutral military or
paramilitary operations that are undertaken with the consent of all
major belligerents. They are designed to monitor and facilitate
implementation of an existing truce and support diplomatic efforts to
reach a long-term political settlement.
Peace-enforcement (PE) is the application of military force, or
the threat of its use, normally pursuant to international
authorization, to compel compliance with generally accepted
resolutions or sanctions designed to maintain or restore peace and
support diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political settlement.
The primary purpose of PE is the restoration of peace under conditions
broadly defined by the international community.