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Old 02-17-2006   #1
Charlie
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Default Soldiers and NGOs (merged thread)

I was wondering if anyone with knowledge could tell me about relations between the military and aid and development agencies and NGOs on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here, btw. is a link to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations lessons learned website, interesting stuff on disarmament, working with NGOs and rule-of-law. Worth a look:

http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/lessons/
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Old 07-27-2007   #2
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Default Guidelines for Relations Between US Armed Forces and NGOs

USIP, 23 Jul 07:

Guidelines for Relations Between U.S. Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations in Hostile or Potentially Hostile Environments (Pamphlet)

Guidelines for Relations Between U.S. Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations in Hostile or Potentially Hostile Environments (Handout)
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The following guidelines should facilitate interaction between U.S. Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Organizations (see Key Terms) belonging to InterAction that are engaged in humanitarian relief efforts in hostile or potentially hostile environments. (For the purposes of these guidelines, such organizations will henceforth be referred to as Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations, or NGHOs.) While the guidelines were developed between the Department of Defense (DOD) and InterAction, DOD intends to observe these guidelines in its dealings with the broader humanitarian assistance community. These guidelines are not intended to constitute advance endorsement or approval by either party of particular missions of the other but are premised on a de facto recognition that U.S. Armed Forces and NGHOs have often occupied the same operational space in the past and will undoubtedly do so in the future. When this does occur, both sides will make best efforts to observe these guidelines, recognizing that operational necessity may require deviation from them. When breaks with the guidelines occur, every effort should be made to explain what prompted the deviation in order to promote transparency and avoid distraction from the critical task of providing essential relief to a population in need....

Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2016 at 02:49 PM. Reason: This was a stand alone post with 6k views until merged.
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Old 07-27-2007   #3
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Interaction really has their stuff together. I've kicked around the idea of working in the NGO security and risk management field down the road, and that group is a leader in dealing with those issues.
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Old 07-27-2007   #4
Tom Odom
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Independence for NGHOs: Independence is defined in the same way as it is in the Code of Conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and NGOs Engaged in Disaster Relief: Independence is defined as not acting as an instrument of government foreign policy. NGHOs are agencies that act independently from governments. NGHOs therefore, formulate their own policies and implementation strategies and do not seek to implement the policy of any government, except insofar as it coincides with their own independent policies. To maintain independence,
NGHOs will never knowingly—or through negligence—allow themselves, or their employees, to be used to gather information of a political, military, or economically sensitive nature for governments or other bodies that may serve purposes other than those that are strictly humanitarian, nor will they act as instruments of foreign policy of donor governments.
Based on my experience with NGOs in Zaire, Rwanda, and elsewhere I would say that the above paragraph (next to last in the guidelines document) means that the rest of the document is fluff, pure and simple. NGOs will do as they please, when they please, until a governmental body or an extra-governmental body (like an insurgency) uses some form of coercion to influence them.

I am not making an anti-NGO stand here. I have worked with NGOs. Some are quite professional. Some are extremely political. All bring the old commercial about "herding cats" to mind.

Best

Tom

Last edited by Tom Odom; 07-27-2007 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 07-27-2007   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
Interaction really has their stuff together. I've kicked around the idea of working in the NGO security and risk management field down the road, and that group is a leader in dealing with those issues.
Let me know ... as I know the heaviest of the heavies
... Mike O'Neill, Director of Security for Save the Children USA. He is clearly the single best NGO security director out there ... old Sierra Leone ICRC Rep held captive for 30 days by the RUF, stared down Fodeh Sankoh and escaped with his driver from their HQ. He created the Peace Corps security program and has been to every country in the world doing security assessments ... twice at least. He's on Interaction's board I believe and was huge in expanding military-NGO relations.
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Old 08-07-2007   #6
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Michael is not an InterAction Board member, but is much of the moving force behind the InterAction Security Advisory Group (SAG). There are also some effective InterAction staff/leaders like Jim Bishop and Linda Poteat who keep these issues on the front burner, much to everyone's benefit (and field safety). My organization is a member of both InterAction and SAG, and we find them both very useful.

Unfortunately (and Michael and a few other squared away/active security officers are the exceptions), though security issues among the NGO community receive much more attention and focus these days, there is still a lag between the folks with security portfolios and the general management and leadership in many places. There are also so few of us with any sort of focus on this area that it tends to be a second-tier issue at times.

PMCs are not, and will likely not be the answer for the NGO community. Don't get me wrong, I'm somewhat of a PMC proponent (having worked for one once-upon-a-time). However, there's not enough funding in the relief and development arena to support that approach (at least not while the Afghanistan and Iraq cash cows are still delivering milk), and the philosophical/genuine fundraising/donor issues are probably a bit much to overcome.

It should be noted that there are often strong commodity area distinctions between humanitarian security and CIMIC, though the folks responsible for one tend to get the other as part of their primary (or secondary) duties.

Cheers,
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Old 05-25-2008   #7
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Default Soldiers & NGO's

I see the post was sometime ago..but for a short reply to the questions, the following is provided:

I was part of the 1st Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) initiative in Gardez in March of 2003. This initiative was designed to provide support via infrastructure development to post war Afghanistan. I worked for USAID..former LTC US Army.MOS: 11A & 38A (Civil Affairs)

USAID only uses implementing partners to move the funds from planning to implementation. At that time, IOM/International Organization for Migration had the contract. There was, unfortunately, no direct funding from the USAID implementing partner...me! The problems included: (1) IOM would not go out of Gardez due to security issues; (2) IOM had to then sub-contract to locals, hence creating multiple tiers of salaries, vehicles and such; (3) Validating contracts and administrative time could take between 4-6 months from recommendation (me) to implementation...if then.

In short, during my time in Gardez as USAID's PRT "expert", not one dollars was used for infrastructure development..no one. There were two projects ongoing...the Khwost-Gardez Hiway and a building in Khwost), but nothing else.

Most of the direct funding came from the US Army under their program. A number of projects were started and completed, but time from recommendation to funding to completion was very lengthy and would overlap units coming and going causing great consternation and chaos.

I also worked Iraq, but in another capacity...In short, the USG's current method of funding infrastructure post conflict development is flawed substantially with administrative tiers.
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Old 05-25-2008   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I was wondering if anyone with knowledge could tell me about relations between the military and aid and development agencies and NGOs on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here, btw. is a link to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations lessons learned website, interesting stuff on disarmament, working with NGOs and rule-of-law. Worth a look:

http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/lessons/
Stephenson's book Losing the Golden Hour is good on that during the crucial 2003-04 period.
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Old 05-26-2008   #9
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Negotiator, as far as I know, USAID doesn't give out money directly for infrastructure building. Money is given through grants or contracts and USAID manages those. You might give a contract to an international organization to deliver grants for small scale infrastructure development or a large contract to an international firm (bechtel, for example) to do larger scale infrastructure development.

At the same time, I don't think USAID is funding this kind of infrastructure development. Instead, they're focusing on institution building, NGO strengthening, socio-economic development, etc.

I agree that the rules and requirements make it very difficult to get things done in a place like Iraq. Even the rules for grants for NGOs are written for US NGOs and have to be applied and interpreted for non-US NGOs.
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Old 05-26-2008   #10
Stan
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Default Not so sure the UN is my one stop shopping for CALL

I've been around USAID employees and contractors for more than a decade, and while their system has administrative hurdles like most USG institutions, they do have some professional folks on the ground trying like hell. During 3 civil wars and their offices reduced to 2 from 50, those folks performed well under pressure. I give them high marks for putting the right folks in the most inhospitable places on earth and expecting nothing less than 110%.

The UN has been a thorn in my side for years. The link Charlie provides with a spotlight on Africa is but a joke.

Peacekeeping, Peace building and best of all, child protection advisers in Africa is abysmal. Collating miles of paper in three languages and then sum up a detailed financial report to back future events (that nobody signed up for) is hardly a lesson learned.

Back to topic, we (the US Military) got along with USAID employees far better than most State players with far less to do.

don't get me started on Peace Corps volunteers in the bush
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Old 05-26-2008   #11
Ken White
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Default What Stan said. I'd even add

Peace Corps volunteers in town, anywhere...

USAid, OTOH, everywhere I worked with them did great even if their State 'colleagues' did reject them like ugly stepchildren. Quite wrongly, IMO, the Aid folks got along far better with their HN counterparts than the diplomats did.

Been a while but I doubt either of those things has changed much...
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Old 06-04-2008   #12
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I'm late to this one, too, but since I lead an NGO with activities in Iraq (since 2003) and returning to Afghanistan (left in late-2006 - project ended successfully, we didn't run away), I have a couple of thoughts (and have probably said them before in my few posts on SWC).

In my opinion, our community (the humanitarian one) is in a bit of mess in Iraq. Too many organizations are headquartered in Amman and/or Erbil, and not in many other places in the country. There are a very few major NGOs implemeing programs in most goernorates (the numbers are slowly growing), often employing only Iraq national staff on the ground, and using a variety of monitoring processes to make sure things are getting done (we've been quite creative in how we monitor our Iraqi colleagues in the field in places we expatriates can't go).

In Amman, the old "idle hands are the devil's workshop" axiom holds sway. The companies, NGOs and United Nations agencies that have most of their international staff there seem sometimes to be at war with one another, I think largely as a frustrated reaction to their inability to operate in the field (personnel ceilings, lack of security facilities, philosophical opposition to working from FOBs, etc.).

In reality, we stay as far away from the military and foreign governmental institutions in both places as we can, simply because being overtly tied to them presents such increased risk to our operations, in these two counries in particular. Since my own organization has a long history in the Humanitarian Mine Action community, we get less animated about the philosophical side of this issue, but we take the personal security side of it very, very seriously.

Most NGOs worth their salt approach the principles of impartiality and neutrality with great sincerity. USAID, the State Department, the United Nations agencies, and the other donors who support our work understand this, and we work together with them to make sure that the operational and ethical considerations that are our mandate are served, that the needs of the donors are served, and if we're doing our jobs, that the needs of the beneficiaries are served.

There are exceptions to the approach related above, as there always are. However, these execptions are usually organizations that are not "main stream" in the NGO sense, or there are a few who are large enough to not get overly worked up about the perceptions of their fellows.

We have good relations in Iraq and Afghanistan with one of the State Department offices responsible for the relief and development side of things, and a growing relationship with USAID in Iraq. Our donors understand our need to keep a distance between us based upon security reality and humanitarian community perception unreality. The United Nations offices and agencies we have worked with, or are currently working with (including OCHA, WFP, UNDP, UNOPS, UNMAS, and I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two) are good partners to us, and have generally approached getting things done in Iraq either with us or through us in a very practical manner, given the constraints their people in Jordan and Iraq are forced to work within.

Too late, and I'm out of practice, so I'm rambling and not making enough sense. Apologies.

Stan, DH is on his way to your location. He's really looking forward to the supermodel parade in the town square. I met with him today, and he sends his regards.

Cheers,
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Old 06-04-2008   #13
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My memory may be failing me, but I recall needing some humanitarian supplies in Iraq in 2007 (basically, rice, blankets, mattresses, and halal meals) on a few occasions and I think (though I am not sure) that our Civil Affairs personnel requested those items through USAID (or some NGO). My understanding is that we used USAID / some NGO because the Army did not have a stockpile available nor could we obtain it quickly enough through whatever channels that stuff comes through.
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Old 06-04-2008   #14
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Hey Joe !
Quote:
Originally Posted by redbullets View Post
Since my own organization has a long history in the Humanitarian Mine Action community, we get less animated about the philosophical side of this issue, but we take the personal security side of it very, very seriously.

Most NGOs worth their salt approach the principles of impartiality and neutrality with great sincerity.

Stan, DH is on his way to your location. He's really looking forward to the supermodel parade in the town square. I met with him today, and he sends his regards.

Cheers,
I've found that most of the bickering and/or conflict between the Military and NGOs can be directly attributed to misunderstandings. Not that the NGOs have been angels, but the Military hardly bend unless forced to. Tom was very good at figuring out who did what best, and moreover, who had all the right contacts and widgets (not bad for a 3-man team).

Dennis and Pete will be returning from lovely Afghanistan, so it should be a pleasant change for them. Dennis' last trip here was extremely productive and I'm really looking forward to Pete's EOD background. Got another EOD guy coming from Stuttgart at the same time and hope to get this Mine Action Bravo Sierra under wraps too. It's folks like these with both a Military background and (now) support role dealing with both sides of the fence that makes the military and NGO relations paramount and easily understood by all

Regards, Stan
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Old 06-07-2008   #15
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Default Understanding the role of humanitarian organizations in war zones

I've just returned home from Baghdad and would like to recommend the following online course that will explain what it's all about regarding soldiers working with NGOs in Iraq, or anywhere else.

http://ocha.unog.ch/uncmcoord/

The course is not easy if you have never worked with the UN or for an NGO so leave yourself at least a good long afternoon so that you don't get frustrated.

Wherever the US Military is sent these days two non-indigenous groups will always be there, the media and NGOs.

Some of you may disagree with much that is included in the course but try to understand that the world of war is a complex place with folks that think we are what's wrong and the root cause of much of the current problems. Of course I don't agree, but we are not always as good as we would like to be all the time.

The world of humanitarian intervention is changing as the world changes from post-cold war to GWOT. The humanitarian efforts of the UN and the big NGOs are being “reformed” so that they can continue to provide assistance when needed. No organization is perfect and no groups of people are all good, or even competent. The UN and NGOs are no exception.

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Old 11-16-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
My memory may be failing me, but I recall needing some humanitarian supplies in Iraq in 2007 (basically, rice, blankets, mattresses, and halal meals) on a few occasions and I think (though I am not sure) that our Civil Affairs personnel requested those items through USAID (or some NGO). My understanding is that we used USAID / some NGO because the Army did not have a stockpile available nor could we obtain it quickly enough through whatever channels that stuff comes through.
Hi, Just to follow up what you wrote, I am a Civil Affairs Soldier and would like to add that a key thing to remember about CA is that Army supplies are never to be used in support of a mission that involves giving something (anything really) to a civilian. Your CA folks should be the resident expert and ideally would have already met with and have rapport with peers (USAID, S/CRS, Peace Corps, Host Nation Agencies) that might assist them with any civil response that will support the commander's intent. Recall that while providing humanitarian aid is a just and honorable venture the Civil Affairs team should be focused on accomplishing the commander's intent. Now, truth be told, a good CA guy/girl can make most anything meet the commander's intent. In a combat zone that is, of course, the maneuver commander but otherwise it would be the chief of mission (Dept. of State).

Hope this helps.
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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
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Old 09-26-2011   #17
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Default Cdn mil paper: How soldiers can get along better with civilian NGO types, others

This just out from Defence Research and Development Canada....

"Collaboration between the Canadian Forces and the Public in Operations" (86 page PDF) by Michael H. Thomson, Barbara D. Adams, Courtney D. Hall, Andrea L. Brown, and Craig Flear

Abstract
Quote:
In current operations (e.g., Afghanistan and Haiti), the Canadian Forces (CF) are expected to work more closely than in the past with a number of diverse civilian (“public”) organizations, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), International Organizations (IOs), Other Governmental Departments (OGDs), local populations, and the media. However, the CF’s history of working with, for example, NGOs, has been limited and may pose challenges to collaboration (Leslie, Gizewski, & Rostek, 2008).

The purpose of this study was to 1) further understand the core issues that help or hinder civil-military collaboration, specifically involving the CF, NGOs, IOs, Afghan nationals, and the media, and 2) highlight recommendations for potential training and education for effective civil-military collaboration in the public domain. A number of subject matter experts (SMEs), representing diverse organizations and entities, both military (CF) and civilian (NGOs, IOs, Afghan nationals, the media), were consulted to elicit first-hand accounts of collaboration efforts in theatre.

Results indicated that the CF did not effectively acknowledge their counterpart’s expertise and experience and that the CF should refrain from “taking charge” and telling others how to do their job. Civilian participants said that the CF had open dialogue and that CF leaders were good at engaging, but that the CF could engage more with civilians and civil organizations given the challenges faced by civilians in navigating the military system and CF ommunication channels. Military and civilian participants said that one strategy to facilitate collaboration was to build positive relationships. However, civilian SMEs thought that the military overstepped its jurisdiction and that roles and responsibilities needed to be clearly established.

NGO or IO adherence to the principle of neutrality varied across organizations and this had potential negative ramifications for the ability of some organizations to operate safely in non-permissive environments. Participants included both negative and positive perceptions about one another. Stereotype reduction occurred following contact with one another and after learning about another organization’s values, intentions, and operational objectives and goals.

Afghan nationals provided examples of CF trust violations that may turn the local population against them. Overall, participants argued that there was a general lack of knowledge regarding the contemporary operating theatre and the multiple players involved. Gaining knowledge of potential collaboration counterparts was the core recommendation for future training and education to support civil-military collaboration in a comprehensive operating context, including the public domain, and this training and education needs to be fully integrated.
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