The lines between U.S. military and humanitarian actions have become increasingly blurred under the Obama administration, which globally will deploy advisers to further merge what historically were separate defense and foreign-aid functions.
The reformation began under President George W. Bush but is reaching new heights under Obama.
The Military Liaison Team, or MLT, at the U.S. Agency for International Development will leverage the new advisers to coordinate efforts between USAID and all Department of Defense agencies, according to planning documents that WND discovered via routine database research.
These Humanitarian Assistance Adviser/Military, or HAA/M, adviser posts will serve as a “critical liaison function between USAID and the DoD military establishment.” USAID on Sept. 27 began publicly recruiting candidates to fill multiple HAA/M slots both domestically and worldwide.
The goal of the liaison function will be to “represent the humanitarian sector perspective and expertise” in situations in which parties such as USAID and DOD – as well as the United Nations, NGOs and “private voluntary organizations” – jointly respond to international crises.
HAA/M candidates must have “professional experience planning for or responding to” chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive events, the Personal Services Contracting notice emphasizes.
The agency’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, or OFDA, initially will deploy the HAA/Ms to DOD Combatant Command facilities where there already exists “an OFDA operational need to work with the military independent of future country specific disasters.”
Those locations include Stuttgart, Germany – current home of the U.S. Africa Command – as well as Honolulu and Miami.
OFDA’s strategic plan also is weighing potential HAA/M assignments in Washington, D.C.; Bangkok, Thailand; San Jose, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; and Manama, Bahrain, the document says.
OFDA is the primary USAID unit tasked with providing “emergency non-food humanitarian assistance.”
The three-division office is part of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, or DCHA.
OFDA separately is recruiting for a HAA/M position that the office has planned for U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM, headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla.
“Due to their existing presence in countries around the world, special operations forces (SOF) can be the first U.S. military forces in country following natural disasters or complex emergencies,” the solicitation says.
Because of SOF’s unique global responsibilities, “OFDA is increasingly liaising and engaging with those units to ensure staff awareness of [U.S. government] roles before, during, and following an international disaster response operation.”
Indeed, the Bush administration centered its efforts at USSOCOM when the White House first sought to create some parallel USAID and DOD functions.
That initiative countered the traditional U.S. government perspective on USAID’s distinct humanitarian role.
The John F. Kennedy administration created USAID as a unit intentionally detached from “political and military functions that plagued its predecessor organizations,” according to the agency’s official history. As a consequence of this separation, USAID more ably could offer “direct support to the developing nations of the world.”
Under Bush, however, USAID’s DCMA unit in 2005 created the Office of Military Affairs, subsequently hiring senior advisers to initiate and expand its relationship with DOD.
Soon after, it sought to install a Washington, D.C.-based senior military adviser to “create, foster and formalize a network of working relationships between USAID and the U.S. military, with a focus on leaders throughout the Pentagon.”
The creation of the more recent HAA/M adviser positions will attempt to elevate these relationships to a higher level, while also taking steps to ensure that the lines are not completed blurred when it comes to military and humanitarian functions.
Among the core duties of the advisers will be to “deploy with DOD forces in humanitarian emergencies” and to “assist OFDA management in defining a strategy for military coordination.”
Despite the coordination, the adviser also will be tasked with drawing at least some distinction between DOD and USAID responsibilities.
The establishment of these boundaries is evidenced by additional duties called for in the solicitation. Among them is the stated need to “coordinate with the humanitarian community to achieve the best use of military assets by reducing redundant or counterproductive military activities.”
The HAA/M adviser likewise must determine “whether OFDA participation in DoD humanitarian activities is necessary and useful.”