Shafter’s CCP gets smart about humanitarian assistance

| January 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
Reneé Van Slate, lead humanitarian assistance adviser to Pacific Command and a member of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance Military Liaison Team, speaks to service members during the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course, Jan. 11. The course is designed to educate service members on the role of U.S. government and the military when dealing with disaster relief events.

Reneé Van Slate, lead humanitarian assistance adviser to Pacific Command and a member of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance Military Liaison Team, speaks to service members during the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course, Jan. 11. The course is designed to educate service members on the role of U.S. government and the military when dealing with disaster relief events.

Story and photo by
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Bell
U.S. Army-Pacific Contingency Command Post Public Affairs

Soldiers from the U.S. Army-Pacific Contingency Command Post (CCP) learned the roles they play when responding to an international disaster during a two-day course, here, Jan. 10-11.

CCP Soldiers, along with counterparts from the Navy and Air Force, attended the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course (JHOC), which is conducted by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) Military Liaison Team.

The quarterly course is open to service members assigned to units that would provide support during a disaster. Its primary goal is to help better synchronize U.S. government civilian relief agencies and the military during a natural disaster response.

“We need to understand what Department of Defense personnel do and what their authorities are, and DOD personnel need to understand how we work, so we can work better together in our response,” said Reneé Van Slate, lead humanitarian assistance advisor to Pacific Command. “If we work to understand each other before a disaster, we will work much better together during a disaster response.”

It’s not a matter of if, but when, the next disaster will occur in the Pacific, said Van Slate.

The course, which instructors say compresses about a week’s worth of training into just a few days, covered a number of key areas military personnel need to understand. Training included discussions on internationally accepted humanitarian principles; the United Nations’ Humanitarian Cluster System; how international relief agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) work; U.S. Government Humanitarian Assistance, to include the structure and relationships between U.S. government aid agencies; when it’s appropriate to use military assets; and what kind of military assets can be used during a disaster response.

Course instructors were very clear that DOD assets should only be used for specific unique tasks, things that no one else can provide.

The class also contained several practical exercises designed to put service members in the shoes of OFDA personnel.

“As our mission focus has shifted to the Pacific, it naturally needs to also shift towards humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as the Pacific has more natural disasters than anywhere else in the world,” said Lt. Col. Michael Brophy, an aviation officer assigned to the Fort Shafter-based CCP.

“A course like this is invaluable in helping us to better work with lead federal agencies, and other services for that matter, when planning for and responding to a disaster,” Brophy added.

The CCP requires all of its personnel to take JHOC and its “sister” course Humanitarian Assistance Response Training, which focuses primarily on NGOs’ response to disasters and humanitarian crisis.

Twenty members of the USARPAC CCP also attended the class, Jan. 7-8.

The CCP consists of more than 90 personnel with specific skills to provide a USARPAC forward command post capability, specifically focusing on small-scale contingencies, such as supporting humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peace operations.

The CCP can tailor personnel and equipment to fit the mission with a team as small as seven, to as many as more than 120 service members with augmenting forces.

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Category: News, Training

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