HA/DR: Is USPACOM "Ready on Arrival"
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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The recent inclusion of the core capability, Humanitarian AidDisaster Response HADR to the 2007 document, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power invites a crucial discussion as to how prepared the maritime forces of the United States military, specifically USPACOM United States Pacific Command are to respond to the next disaster that strikes the region. By taking a thoughtful look at the recent 2005 OPERATION UNIFIED ASSISTANCE OUA, the United States was able to deduce the critical importance of HADR to overall Theater Security Cooperation TSC. Not only did it prove vital to the people it brought aid to - saving countless lives, it also allowed for the opportunity to develop close relationships with other countries within the region. Although largely successful in hindsight, many valuable lessons were learned because of OUA. Of glaring importance was the fact that the operation demonstrated to USPACOM just how unprepared it was to conduct such a large and complex HADR operation. While subsequent changes have been made as a result, USPACOM unfortunately is still not adequately prepared for the next disaster that occurs within their area of responsibility AOR. In order to support the thesis of this paper, the paper will first examine the aging and technologically obsolete assets available to USPACOM to conduct HADR operations. Next, it will assess the current training and readiness of USPACOMs maritime forces, discussing not only the importance of training opportunities within the region that allow for vital mil-to-mil relationships, but also relationships with NGOs non-governmental organizations. Finally, the paper will conclude with recommendations for USPACOM, suggesting how it and the rest of the United States maritime forces can better prepare themselves for the next HADR operation in the region.
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