The humanitarian and the soldier: partners for peace? A study of US and New Zealand military-NGO relations : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Defence Studies at Massey University, Manawatu, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Over the past two decades, military forces and aid workers have found themselves co-existing time and time again on unconventional battlefields. While efforts have been made to coordinate their respective missions, the relationship between the military and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) remains ad hoc. This improvisational approach to military-NGO relations yields uneven and, often, inefficient results in responses to complex emergencies.
To gain a better understanding of the military-NGO relationship and its implications for international interventions, this study identifies the strengths and weaknesses, comparative advantages, and gaps in capabilities of the military-NGO relationship using the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and United States Military experiences. This study addresses three key questions. These are:
Does a lack of cooperation in military-NGO relations exist and, if it does, how does it inhibit the efficacious response to complex emergencies?
What impact do the structures and philosophies of both military and humanitarian organisations have on the military-NGO relationship?
Using the strategic, operational and tactical levels to evaluate the case studies, what has, and has not, worked within the military-NGO relationship and how can those successes and failures contribute to building a model for the military-NGO relationship?
While not a key question, there is a fourth area which this study briefly addresses in order to compare and contrast the military-NGO relationship of two different countries: Does the US military or the New Zealand Defence Force have a comparative advantage in the military-NGO relationship?
Many lessons are drawn from military-NGO experiences in the four case studies of this research: Somalia, Bosnia, East Timor, and Afghanistan. The military-NGO relationship was a hot button issue in 1991 to 1993 after operations in Northern Iraq and Somalia, and it has re-emerged as a critical issue today as the international community continues to engage in complex emergencies in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. As Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, militaries and aid agencies are continuing to debate their interplay in many of the same terms they did in 1993. This study examines the collective experiences- both positive and negative- of military-NGO relations and seeks practical strategies for a cooperative relationship.