During emergencies requiring or involving a military presence in the crisis area, the military authorities may be willing to offer direct or indirect assistance to the humanitarian relief effort. It is most important that such assistance be properly coordinated with the work being undertaking by civilian actors. Therefore, it will be necessary to set up some form of mechanism to ensure an effective civil-military collaboration.
Cooperation between civilian and military bodies can take many forms and can be initiated by either side. Civil-Military Coordination (CMCOORD) is the official term used by OCHA to describe the process of liaison between civilian and military actors in a crisis area. Military authorities may also appoint their own staff for liaison duties with the humanitarian community. Larger military formations (e.g. multi-national coalitions) may even establish a Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) within a major HQ, as was the case during the Afghan emergency in 2001. The generic military term for liaison between humanitarian and military bodies is Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC). However some military authorities or formations may use different terminology. Whatever the name used for this important function, the objective is essentially the same: to ensure any military assistance is effectively coordinated with civilian humanitarian activities in line with the “Guidelines on Use of Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief, both for Natural Disasters and Complex Emergencies.”
Considerations for Humanitarian Practice in Conflict
Civil/Military engagement is sensitive in the humanitarian sector and different organisations have different sets of policies on how to engage with the military in various contexts. Logisticians should be aware of: