STUTTGART, Germany – A team of advisors from the U.S. Agency for International Development conducted a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course (JHOC), to staff members of U.S. Africa Command, Oct. 3-4, 2018, Stuttgart, Germany, in the command Special Events Center.
The course included 40 attendees mostly comprised of AFRICOM staff members from various directorates across the command. The course focused on roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the U.S. Government’s lead federal agency for foreign disaster response, and how USAID/OFDA coordinates with Department of Defense in a disaster response.
The event reinforces all AFRICOM lines of effort, to include enhancing partner capacity and strengthening partner networks.
“The purpose of the two-day course is to educate AFRICOM staff members with a better understanding of how the U.S. responds to humanitarian crises around the world, and how USAID works in conjunction with other U.S. government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, to synchronize relief efforts,” said Leigh Caraher, Lead Humanitarian Assistance Advisor, AFRICOM J4.
During the course, the attendees participated in group-exercises simulating various crisis responses, based on real world events.
The first exercise required the students to think through the evolution of a real world disaster and the host nation, U.S. Government, and international response to that disaster. In the second exercise the students go through the decision making process from the OFDA, to determine how to respond to a disaster declared in a foreign country. In the final exercise, the students plan for U.S. military support to USAID/OFDA’s response to massive flooding in a foreign country.
“The exercises highlight key points such as the host government's request for international assistance and declaration of disaster by the U.S. Government, USAID/OFDA response mechanisms, and the request for DoD support and deployment of a Joint Task Force in support of humanitarian assistance,” said Caraher.
The course enhances the AFRICOM staff’s ability to effectively and efficiently respond to crises, said Luis Bispo, Communication Synchronization Planner, AFRICOM, and course attendee.
“Through this class I gained a vast knowledge of information that amplified my ability to plan for crises response,” Bispo said. “The course as a whole was very well versed and gave me more insight as to how and when the military coordinates with civilian entities during situations requiring humanitarian relief.”
During the second day, the attendees were afforded the opportunity to hear from the Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, as he addressed them about interagency partnerships during a humanitarian crisis, during his visit to AFRICOM headquarters.
“The issues we face in certain countries today will not be solved by military alone and will not be solved by humanitarian support alone,” said Beasley. “It’s going to require both components, working (side by side), while at the same time keeping a degree of separation as necessary.”
“I found that the personnel from the WFP provided a unique perspective on humanitarian response, security and logistics on the African continent,” said class attendee, Lisa Fowlkes, Logistics Management Specialist, AFRICOM J4. “Our class really benefitted from learning about their experience in disaster situations and their visit was very much appreciated.”
The course was well received by attendees.
“JHOC provided great insight into the roles that the DOD, USAID/OFDA, and other non-governmental organizations play in the United States’ humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts on a global scale,” Fowlkes said.
AFRICOM continues its mission of working by, with, and through African partners, towards a safe, stable, and prosperous Africa, an enduring American interest.