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Thread: Humanitarian Aid: Winning the Terror War

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Humanitarian Aid: Winning the Terror War

    20 December Christian Science Monitor commentary - Humanitarian Aid: Winning the Terror War by Kenneth Ballen.

    The flagship for the war on terror could well be the US Navy ship Mercy. But this Navy vessel is not armed for battle. Just the opposite: It is fitted for peace.

    The Mercy is a fully equipped, 1,000-bed floating hospital, which returned in September from giving medical care and training to the people of Indonesia, Bangladesh, East Timor, and the Philippines. The US Navy, Project HOPE, and other volunteer medical personnel provided free medical care, including major surgeries, for nearly 61,000 needy patients.

    Amid the uncertainty about the best strategy in Iraq and how to answer the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the world, there is one American policy of the past two years that has proven successful time and again: humanitarian missions by the US military. This policy is pro-military, pro-American, pro-humanitarian, and antiterrorist. Most important, it is actually curbing anti-American feelings in Muslim countries...

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Air Force in Humanitarian Ops

    This is the kind of stuff I was talking about in another post of mine (U.S. Air Force Loses Out in Iraq War). The AF already conducts MEDFLAG ( a medical response exercise in Africa) each year. We could expand this to a more permanent thing to use as a preventive measure. The AF has the capability to enter a foreign country, set up a useable base from scratch and conduct medical and construction missions from almost day one of entering. Thsi would be an invaluable tool in swaying opinion to our side.

    Africa right now is a complete mess. AIDS, poverty, weak central governments, and a growing disgruntled Muslim population are just a few of the things that make this area ripe for use as a terrorist haven. Increasing our use of the Air Force as a provider of humanitarian aid would allow us to preempt a terrorist foothold and create a positive view of the US (similar to our use of positive propaganda in the Cold War). This, in turn, better prepares the AF for assisting with stability operations. Imagine what Iraq would look like now if we had an AF that was trained, ready, able, and willing to enter Iraq to reestablish electrical power, water, medical facilities, and the like. We had a small window to meet the needs of the population post-OIF I, for a variety of reasons we failed. One of those could have been filled by the AF.

    With Africa, we could prevent the next Operation Africa Freedom by laying the groundwork for positive change. Think of it as prepping the battlefield, only this time we're trying to avoid the battle a la Sun Tzu.

    Let me know if this is completely out in left field or does this make sense?
    Last edited by LawVol; 12-20-2006 at 03:06 PM. Reason: operator error

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Increasing our use of the Air Force as a provider of humanitarian aid would allow us to preempt a terrorist foothold and create a positive view of the US (similar to our use of positive propaganda in the Cold War).
    We'd need the AF to do a lot more work than just treat boo-boos and fill a few cavities. It's not that I disagree with your point, just that we are involved in strategic engagement all the time in Africa. Just look at the example of JTF-HOA.

    Sometimes these initiatives can plant seeds that grow well, but these engagement efforts are by no means a guarantee for success. Could the AF be more involved? I don't know enough about its operational and exercise footprint to say yes or no. I do believe that the sense of purpose needs to be ingrained into it culturally, in order for it to remain relevant in times of Small Wars though. You don't get much of that, however, when you are worrying about the infrastructure, training, personnel, and O&M needed for a new fleet of Raptors.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    The AF just doesn't view the lift mission as being essential to their corporate identity, though they do like to teach AFROTC cadets about the Berlin Airlift. It's depressing to think that the AF couldn't muster such an effort today, and most likely wouldn't put the same value on it as they did then.

    Personally, I think the AF should really look at its current operations (the real ones, not the ones they'd like to be doing) and reevaluate their structure and mindset accordingly. That would mean increasing the lift fleet substantially (even if that means cutting some F-22s and B-2s/B-3s), adding to their AFSOC capability, and investing in a good follow-on to the A-10 (not the F-35, but a less expensive aircraft with the same survivability as the A-10). They also need to look hard at their ability to operate in less-than-ideal conditions and perhaps draw lessons from other services. But that would involve a major shift in power and thinking within the AF as a whole, along with discarding some cherished myths about airpower. I'd love to see it, but I really have my doubts that we will in my lifetime.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    An increase in lift capacity coupled with more manpower in the Civil Engineering (CE) squadron capabilities would allow the AF to do more than "treat boo-boos and fill cavities." It would take some change in mindset, but it is entirely doable. New training would also be necessary, especially from the Security Forces side of the house since they are only just recently beginning off base patrols (in the past the Army provided security outside the wire, this is changing because of the strain).

    Full up capabilities, as I would envision, would allow a force of something the size of a brigade combat team to go in and set up shop. Basically, your advance team would go in and assess the airfield and take care of what is needed to support aircraft. The next phase would consist of BEAR base assets to create a usable base. The last phase would bring in the actual mission personnel to perform what ever humanitarian mission (medical, etc.) is being run. While this is happening, CE assets could rebuild or build some infrastructure. Medical clinics, schools, power stations and the like would go a long way toward stabilizing the local area. Combine this with some support from other agencies or NGO's and we could get agriculture or other business up and going.

    Although I am certainly an advocate of increasing the AF role in small wars, I do not believe the AF can ignore their primary mission (air superiority). While it is possible that no one will ever challenge us as a military peer, I don;t want to take that chance. We will always need strike capability, so Raptors and the like will be necessary. I just think we need to stop putting all of our eggs in one basket, especially given the strain on our sister services.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    Africa right now is a complete mess. AIDS, poverty, weak central governments, and a growing disgruntled Muslim population are just a few of the things that make this area ripe for use as a terrorist haven. Increasing our use of the Air Force as a provider of humanitarian aid would allow us to preempt a terrorist foothold and create a positive view of the US (similar to our use of positive propaganda in the Cold War). This, in turn, better prepares the AF for assisting with stability operations. Imagine what Iraq would look like now if we had an AF that was trained, ready, able, and willing to enter Iraq to reestablish electrical power, water, medical facilities, and the like. We had a small window to meet the needs of the population post-OIF I, for a variety of reasons we failed. One of those could have been filled by the AF.

    With Africa, we could prevent the next Operation Africa Freedom by laying the groundwork for positive change. Think of it as prepping the battlefield, only this time we're trying to avoid the battle a la Sun Tzu.

    Let me know if this is completely out in left field or does this make sense?


    I disagree.

    Africa has been a mess for a long time now and there have been many foreign millitary interventions for humanitarian reasons.


    I think that best thing for Africa is not to directly intervene and stop this cycle of dependency on the West whenever violence breaks out. Africans are going to have to learn as a group of nations to resolve conflicts in the region themselves. The recent creation of the African Union Peacekeeping Force is a step in the right direction and should be supported. Hopefully as the Africans are now directly involved and responsible for resolving conflicts, they will have an incentive not to allow conflicts to explode because it is they that will have to do the dirty work.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firestaller View Post
    I disagree.

    Africa has been a mess for a long time now and there have been many foreign millitary interventions for humanitarian reasons.


    I think that best thing for Africa is not to directly intervene and stop this cycle of dependency on the West whenever violence breaks out. Africans are going to have to learn as a group of nations to resolve conflicts in the region themselves. The recent creation of the African Union Peacekeeping Force is a step in the right direction and should be supported. Hopefully as the Africans are now directly involved and responsible for resolving conflicts, they will have an incentive not to allow conflicts to explode because it is they that will have to do the dirty work.
    Agree and disagree.

    Agree that Africa has been a mess for some time and that the countries on the continent must do more to resolve conflicts and crises on their own. The AU Peacekeeping Force is a good first step and I have friends (US and Rwandan) involved in that effort.

    Disagree that all interventions spark dependency. It depends on the purpose of the intervention. We--the West--did multiple interventions as part of the Cold War and certainly Mobutu for one was quite happy to have that happen because it often kept him in power. Military interventions for a cause like stopping genocide are a different matter; failing to intervene in such crises has its own costs.

    Also disagree in that what Law Vol is advocating is humanitarian assistance. Crises on the scale of Goma in 1994 absolutely dwarf any African country's capacity to respond. A self-sustaining, mission-configured , and trained brigade task force would have been ideal in Goma in 1994--especially if it had come with a mission to segregate and disarm hardliners. In a larger sense though, Goma-like operations are not the norm. Smaller or more grass roots programs like med caps, demining, and training are and they can be highly effective in developing and sustaining relationships. They are in my opinion and experience many times better than using high-dollar, high tech weaponry assistance programs to sustain relationships. The classic case in africa of the latter method is the Dem Rep of the Congo where we--West and East--spent millions of dollars in sustaining one of the worst militaries on the continent.

    best

    Tom

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    Default Military Medical and Infrastructure assistance

    All I do not think you're seeing LAWVOL's point, perhaps he should have used broader terms vice starting out parochially, that said, his point that the US Navy Ship Mercy and the MEDFLAG operations have as much, perhaps more, value as capturing and killing insurgents is valid. It is a preventive measure, an innoculation against extremism, these are localized and visible efforts to boost the US perception in threat regions. This is entirely different from donating money to the UN or Red Cross, it is visible hands on effects based action. The fomentors of insurgency cannot just remove the Made in the USA label from a life saving surgery conducted on board the Mercy.

    The point about aid dependency is a valid one. However, as these actions become more widespread they conduct training of indigenous medical and engineering personel. Teach how to fish vice doing the fishing. In some cases the talent and personel are in place locally (engineers and doctors) but they don't have the facilities and equipment.

    The 'boo-boo' comment was unjustified and short sighted. The GWOT requires many different techniques, many different approaches. And this should not be dismissed out of hand. It is a complimentary activity that gives direct benefit to our struggle to diffuse the enmity that the Muslim world has towards the United States and the West. Would it work in Iraq NO. It is preventive in nature and requires benign environments.

    For LAWVOL, if he can get the AF to conduct more of this great. I wouldn't hold my breath as in the current competition for the all powerful dollar big ticket tiems like Raptors and Aircraft Carriers trump mobile trauma centers and medical ships.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    What I do like is that LawVol as USAF guy is advocating the use of USAF resources in ways other then what we traditionally asociate their position as. Probably not going to get major aquisition changes, based on where the priorities fall. However, getting the services to think outside regular military lines of operation is pretty significant.

    We could leverage that to provide the things we cold not get on the outside. For example if its a lift & distribution issue, maybe we don't have to tap USN shipping and USAF lift for all of it, but only those parts that are critical to the military LOO.

    I think with AFRICOM, SOCOM, and maybe even PACOM (anything but Iraq and Afghan) we're going to be hard pressed to free up forces and equipment for the forseeable future. So what are the bare bones military capabilities that can be used to facilitate and energize commercial shipping, air, NGOs, OGAs, HN or Regional Fores, maybe even PMCs used in a limited role so that conflict prevention actions like Humanitarian assistance get done? It might be mostly C2, or providing some critical capability that cannot be found except for inside the US Military. Consider the USAFs role in establishing and sustaining and expeditionary air field? A relatively small service commitment which no other service can provide could make all the difference.

    Lets face it, our service resources are only so deep and our priorities for where those resources are at or supporting are fairly well defined. We have to find ways to use what is not commited to shape our other commitments so that they are not so painful down the road. This may mean an economy of force commitment, or the application of things that we are not using in roles that are compatible, but not really what they were intended for. The USN Mercy has answered the call numerous times, but if we did not have good facilities in Iraq, and quick air evac to Landstuhl, she'd be sitting in the Gulf. How many other assets across the services can be used to help shape other AORs? How large is the disonnect between the FS & other OGAs, COCOMS and Services in identifying and resourcing limited needs that could pay big dividends? Are we suffering from constrained thinking? Why? Is it Title Tenitus?

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    Default Civilian Crack-pot Ideas

    I always liked the idea of refurbishing some old Carriers and filling the guts with pre-packaged pallets of rice and wheat, water purification gear, cooking oil, ponchos and space blankets, first aid kids and other assorted things - A skeleton crew of Naval personnel at the helm with no offensive/defensive capabilities required, with civilian volunteers and contract personnel and some choppers on deck, ready to go with emergency rations that could be dropped off quickly within a matter of days any place on the world's coast lines and inward a couple hundred miles. The concept of solving the problem never seems to work out because political turf wars and reams of regulations invariably cause people to suffer and die. Perhaps a theoretical shift is needed to one of helping with Humanitarian problems only and not pretending to be able to solve the problems.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Goesh,
    Funny you should mention it, but a friend of mine proposed about a year ago when the Navy was going out to turn a carrier into a reef, that we should consider an alternative to making combat vehicles conform to C-130 standards that they'd never meet and that there would never be enough air frames to move and sustain a BCT of armored vehicles in favor of ....

    You guessed it - taking these retiring nuclear carriers and refitting them with the types of access and ramps that could download to theater sea lift such as the HSV catamarans that can move a company team set at a time. Out fit the carrier with the types of C4ISR and maint. bays to keep your equipment to the -10 standards and you have significant strategic mobility that delivers a BCT set of men and equipment in tact vs. trying to scrape frames from everywhere and find airports with a big enough capacity on both end, plus all the LOG involved with builidng an air bridge. A carrier is a pretty fast moving animal.

    Hell, the Army could run the boats (or the Merchant Marine - or even a contractor).
    The thing is we often turn down options without even considering them because it does not fit our perception of how something should be. Consider how something like that would free up cargo air for more flexibility.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default shipping

    We should probably have a Sailor make comments here, I've some experience with Naval Shipping and Civilian Shipping so I'll give it swag. Old big decks are rough beasts. Lots of issues. Cost of operation and maintenance could cripple a small country. Further Big Decks are deep draft, preventing them getting too close to shore. Let's not mention an 'old' nuke reactor. Retrofit of these monsters is probably not practical. That said the idea is still valid, just the platforms should be rethought. There are all types of ships that could be brought into this realm. Old container ships, cruise ships, MPF ships, even old Amphibious ships, or naval stores ships. But if you wanted small crew size, large deck and sub deck storage, potential for adding a helo-landing pad and draft versatility then civilian ships would be the way to go. Additonally they should be run as MPF shipping is run, on standby at fun places like Diego Garcia, ships of this nature will top out between 18-20 knots. You may not get it over night but a week-ten days sure. Airlift will always win the speed while sealift will win the mass competitions.

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    Sorry, Rob.

    First -- You're right: sealift, not airlift is the key to strategic mobility.

    Second -- You really want new technology that can deliver equipment (not personnel) very quickly in high sea states. CV/Ns not the answer.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Talking What to do when your out of schlitz

    I guess my gripe is that all too often the material solution becomes an end unto itself. I was talking with one of the instructors here at AWC who said that he was approached for a recommendation on what a good COIN A/C would look like - He responded with both a jet solution - the old A-4 and a prop job - the OV-10. The folks who asked him went away disappointed because he would not endorse the need for a new A/C. His recommendations were just not sexy enough.

    Ex. 2 Look how long it took us to come off the dime and decide that the COTS solution for MRAP was good enough - even when we were already demonstrating their survivability with the route clearnace teams and EOD.

    Ex. 3 While there are other issues in fielding a new rifle - if we want one the aquisition process will ensure its years off.

    It just seems like its hard to get out in front when we continue to draw our material solutions from the board instead of the field. Right now is different then the 1990s, and we need to treat it differently in terms of how we resource our needs when we're talking zero sum gains.

    I thought about it a little after I read LVs post and came up with a rough intro:

    What to Do when You are out of Schlitz: A Concept for Outsourcing Large Scale Capabilities for SSTRO Missions

    The United States is in a resource intense security environment and is unable to provide the scale of military means needed to meet all the demands. The question remains however that with its finite resources committed primarily to Iraq and Afghanistan, how does it shape other regions and environments in order to prevent destabilization? How does it create the conditions which in avoids a host of security problems in places we’ve identified as being in jeopardy, but are unable to affect? The answer may be in combining outsourcing with limited critical capabilities provided by the U.S. military and OGAs. The concept would not be a one size fits all, but a scaleable solution based on the local and regional security environment. It would involve PMCs, contract shipping and air (Contract LOG), NGOs and regional partners working within the confines of the mission as defined by the United States. These limited critical capabilities would almost always require US C2 (Command & Control), but depending on the level and type of threat, may for different lengths of time require other US capabilities not committed elsewhere.

    TOPICS
    Contract air, PMC security, US distribution, NGO medical, US C2, Contract engineering,

    (I'm not sayng the US is unable to produce the means - but that is a choice, and the result is that the means by which the military can employ is limited by funding and policy - that is just the way it is)

    I am not of the notion that it would be a good idea for example to hire a PMC to form a BDE. I am also not of the idea that asking them to take on a long term mission we have identified as something critical to our strategy - ex. the advisory mission. I believe those are better left to the uniformed services (or regional parnters) & will mean tough choices for us. However, if we are talking about helicopter pilots for supply runs, contract convoy escort and site security for NGOs which are of a limited contract and are re-evaluated every time, then I think it may fit.

    I don't have too much spare time these days as I work my way through BSAP, but I'd be willing to work on it with somebody if they want to pursue it. This is one instance where I think we may have to resort to Contract and PMCs because we just can't spare the Schlitz. It may already be that we are doing allot of this (outside of OIF/OEF), but I have not seen it on a large scale. It would still be pricey but it would address a capability gap.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 06-22-2007 at 02:39 AM. Reason: added a PMC qualifier

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    Default Drop n' Scoot

    EAST TIMOR: 20 PERCENT OF POPULATION NEEDS FOOD ASSISTANCE U.N. SAYS

    Dili, 22 June (AKI) - A new United Nations report says one in five people in East Timor needs food assistance, blaming crop losses on persistent drought and locust plagues. The report issued on Friday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warns that to avert a major food crisis, 15,000 tonnes of emergency food assistance must reach up to 220,000 vulnerable people living in outlying areas across the country - particularly during the six months of the coming 'lean season' starting in October.


    By the time traditonal land delivery gets food in, half the people will be migrating out increasing the demand on bad infrastructure in already congested places, creating sickness and unrest while the UN and other self-serving humanitarian agencies argue over who gets to deliver the rice and who gets to deliver the cooking oil and who writes the report that hungry people ate the food provided. Maybe some new civilian/military alliances need to be formed. If I were the Cpt of some ship steaming to deliver food to hungry people, I would want Habitat for Humanity and animal rescue type volunteers below deck doing all the heavy lifting.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Rob - I'm intrigued by the idea. However, I just read an article in Jane's Intelligence Review discussing NGO concerns regarding their perceived neutrality in situations where they work too closely with the military. I would think this would have an effect on their willingness to join forces. However, maybe their need to meet a particular humanitarian crisis may win out.

    I'd also be wary of relying too much on PMCs. Many issues arise with their use (training, liability, etc.). However, I could be convinced. You are absolutely right that a one size fits all approach wouldn't work. Perhaps crafting a plan for a particular area to illustrate the point might be a good paper.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey LV,
    I think it would take a major change in perception by the NGOs and world at large. While folks are often happy to receive $$$ and other types of Aid, they are not always so thrilled to have us tell them how to use it, maybe even less so if it involves US forces on their soil. What would be required is and Informational and Diplomatic strategy that clearly articulated both our goals and means to the local, regional & global interests what we were trying to accomplish and why, generally how we were going to do it so that our actions on the ground were put into context, and that we perceived the actions as a partnership of equality, not one that necessarily was to our political and economic advantage. We'd also need the diplomatic and informational means to ensure that it was a 2 way dialouge that allowed for changes in the situation. I think this is no where near as easy as it sounds.

    The PMCs and other contractors are not a perfect answer. Certainly introducing a 3rd or consecutive party agent can work against the requirements laid out above. However, if you do not have the means because they are engaged elsewhere, and no volunteer agent (such as another regional state or NGO) with the capability disposes themselves to the solution, PMCs and other contracts may be required. I think much of it resides in the way the contract is written in terms, of scope, duration, responsibilities, penalties and authority. However, any contract that does not provide favorable conditions to the contractor is likely to go unfilled since they are profit and not humanitarian based. The trick is to find the happy medium - perhaps allowing the HN you are trying to assist with a role and some oversight?

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting concept. I'd like to explore it a little more and perhaps collaborate on something but, like you, I'm swamped right now. I'm also working on another topic I'd like to finish first.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    LV, Check out the Christian Science Monitor about CJTF HOA . Allot of the things we've talked about show up in the article.

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    Default Along the Lines of Simple Solutions.....

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19121634/site/newsweek/

    "Most of the LifeStraw's users will never drink anything fancier than plain water through the device. But its impact on their lives can't be overstated. More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 6,000 people die each day of waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and dysentery. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa, half of most people's water consumption takes place outside the home—either while they're working, or walking to and from school. Vestergaard Frandsen S.A.—which also produces mosquito nets and plastic sheeting coated with insecticide to fend off malaria—hopes that the $3 LifeStraw will drastically lessen their chances of getting sick. "It's a product that can save lives without spare parts, electricity or maintenance," says the firm's CEO. So far about 2,000 LifeStraws have been sold, mostly to aid agencies. (The product is still being fine-tuned for mass production.)"


    My work in the bush was essentially cooperative development but I recall the dilemma of the health care workers in trying to persuade villagers to cover open wells and the constant struggle to rehydrate infants dying from diarrhea. The problem with well covers is not only the expense of getting them made and understanding the need for it but realizing that it adds yet another chore to already hard living and doesn't account for the fact that young girls haul alot of water. You got a 12 yr old girl that now has to lift a sturdy well cover off, draw water by hand and replace a sturdy well cover, assuming the family could afford the material to make one in the first place, then carry the water. Add to this the short attention span kids tend to have and it really wasn't feasible though well intentioned and consuming provider's energy/resources. Any quick, humanitarian reaction force would want a passle of these water straws to provide to the needy. I would presume the military is already on to this resource but if not, somebody needs to alert somebody to it. At 3$ a pop, you can't go wrong.

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