Humanitarian aid training: preparing for when disaster strikes

Photo By Staff Sgt. Flor Gonzalez | STUTTGART, Germany— Staff members from U.S. Africa Command receive training on the different types of foreign assistance at the Humanitarian Assistance Response Training Course, at Kelley Barracks on Jan. 22-23. The two-day course is designed to prepare AFRICOM's workforce to respond more effectively during civilian-led humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster response missions. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Flor Gonzalez/Released)



Story by Staff Sgt. Flor Gonzalez 

U.S. Africa Command 

STUTTGART, Germany – Humanitarian aid training course prepares nearly 15 U.S. Africa Command personnel to respond when disaster strikes.

“Disasters are unexpected; you never know when one of them will happen; that is why we do this training, to better prepare service members to respond to them,” said Ryan McGovern, an instructor from the Center for Excellence, Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA).

The two-day course, held Jan. 22-23 at Kelley Barracks, is designed by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Center for Excellence in DMHA and will prepare AFRICOM’s workforce to respond more effectively during civilian-led humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster response missions.

“We provide training to units like AFRICOM to prepare them for when they might be called to provide humanitarian assistance to help the allies and partners that are within their area of operations as opposed to other military operations which are their main mission,” said Jenny Caruso, HART project manager overseeing the two-day Humanitarian Assistance Response Training Course.

The attendees were able to do role-playing exercises to better understand the challenges and considerations needed during a disaster. They also went over realistic scenarios, case studies, and small group practical applications enhanced by lectures from civilian and military experts.

“This course will help the CJTF-HOA team go in and provide the assistance required by the host nation to get past the initial demand, and then they can take it from there,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Judge, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) J5 planner. “This will foster a better team-working relationship in the future and provide stronger bonds of friendship.”

AFRICOM, in combination with CJTF-HOA, provided humanitarian relief in March 2019 after Cyclone Ida struck the Republic of Mozambique, causing hundreds of deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The storm also caused catastrophic flooding that damaged homes, public infrastructure, and farmland.

AFRICOM planned and executed 30 humanitarian relief flights to deliver more than 120 tons of food, along with other life-sustaining supplies. During the following weeks, teams from CJTF-HOA conducted operations to airlift additional food, shelter, medical supplies, water, sanitation, and hygiene support and other relief materials to Cyclone-impacted areas.

The course contains a total of 14 modules that focused on providing Department of Defense doctrinal knowledge and lectures as well as how to respond to a disaster appropriately.

“What we are trying to provide the staff … is the awareness of what are the DoD regulations and instructions, what are the norms and the international response community that they will be working with,” said Caruso. “They will learn the parameters for how they would conduct a humanitarian assistance response.”

According to Judge, the training also allowed them to exchange information and connect with instructors and participants in the event support is needed during a response.
AFRICOM is an advocate to African Partner Chiefs of Defense to allow free, unfettered access by International Organizations throughout any disaster zone. Only by allowing access and delivery of much-needed humanitarian support can the severest impacts be mitigated.

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