The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course (JHOC) at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 18-19.
USAID is the government’s primary arm for development and humanitarian assistance activities abroad. The U.S. employs a whole of government approach when responding to complex crises with coordination among diplomatic, defense, and development agencies. USAID focuses on development.
During disaster response and crisis, the Department of Defense (DoD) may be called upon to support humanitarian aid missions. In those instances, the USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance may coordinate with the DoD in order to provide lifesaving aid.
“The goal of the JHOC is to ensure that USAID and DoD are both prepared to coordinate and work together when there is a humanitarian disaster and response,” said Brooke Ballengee, a humanitarian assistance advisor for USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance. “In those situations, time is of the essence and coordination is extremely important because time and coordination can equal saving lives.”
The JHOC explains how and when the different components work together. There are many other organizations within the full humanitarian system that have their own unique capabilities and knowing about those organizations and their roles will help the defense component understand how to better work together when called upon, said Jennifer Glossinger, a humanitarian assistance advisor to the military with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
Glossinger encouraged senior enlisted leaders, staff officers and key decision makers to participate in the JHOC in enhance familiarity, efficiency, and cooperation when Department of Defense components are called upon to partner with USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Robert Jackman-Gordon, the senior enlisted advisor of the East Africa Civil Affairs Company, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, commended the JHOC for entailing up-to-date course information and embedded examples.
“It’s very important to me as a senior enlisted advisor to my commander that my Soldiers understand their role in disaster response and humanitarian assistance so that we can provide the greatest utility to help save lives in those situations,” said Jackman-Gordon. “The better we understand how we fit in, the less we are going to commit operational fratricide where we’re stepping on each other’s lines of effort, the more people we can aid and the more lives we can save as part of government response to disasters.”