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Disasters. 1994 Mar;18(1):48-57.

Military participation in emergency humanitarian assistance.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799.


Military forces of the United States and other countries possess training, equipment and capabilities that are suited for work in disaster preparedness and assistance. Information on the use of military units in domestic and foreign disaster-related efforts, particularly by United States forces in the medical area, was obtained by review of the literature and unpublished military reports, and from interviews with people who have been involved with disaster-related activities. The historical reasons for viewing United States forces as resources in disaster situations are identified. Additionally, issues and problems related to disaster preparedness and assistance in general, and more specifically, to the past and future use of military personnel for this mission are examined. The need for a defined military mission for emergency humanitarian assistance and the need for a military organizational structure to support this mission are identified. Once these two critical issues have been properly addressed, the United States military should participate in the establishment of a disaster institute for joint civilian-military disaster planning and training, in both domestic and foreign areas.

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