As a frame of reference, the author is including mission sets with different labels throughout global defense organizations: humanitarian operations; humanitarian assistance; disaster response; disaster relief and others, in an inclusive, low-intensity operations column heading. 

Regardless of the mission name, MS&T has reported and commented on the increasing rigor and inclusion of low-intensity training in diverse exercise events around the globe. In one case, Indian and US military services included humanitarian assistance and disaster relief events in a recently completed exercise. Back in the US, the National Guard continued the trend toward a whole-of-government exercise construct, including participants from different levels of government, volunteer organizations and others in an event this winter. These activities and others included in the MS&T department are helping military organizations and their low-intensity mission partners “get it right” the first time, for deployments that are typically short-notice at the behest of civilian leaders. 

When disaster relief and other mission responses are according to script, there are typically numerous accolades (and well, OK, some medals and ribbons) to distribute. When things go wrong in a low-intensity mission, the miscues, lack of response, poor decision-making and other negative outcomes are typically fodder in the front-end of the 24/7 news cycle and subsequent annals of history. While the botched US government response to Hurricane Katrina, several miles from where this author sits in New Orleans, still resonate some 20 years later within the national response system, last week’s deadly airstrikes that killed seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza, provide their own, current training lessons learned for military services and their partners.             

An important caveat: Halldale Group continues its rigorous standards of posting unbiased, objective and, as significant, apolitical content. Articles in our departments and e-newsletters generated by an accident, disaster or like-event are completed with the intent to educate and inform a community, and provide lessons learned, best practices and other take aways to prevent those in the same safety-critical training enterprise from traversing down that same operational road. There is no “blame game” on our agenda. As important, Halldale’s focus also remains on a wide swath of high-risk endeavors, be it the military, commercial aviation, industry or others.   

Lessons Learned from the Gaza Incident 

In terms of the Gaza incident, comments from Israeli defense leaders, and organizations and civilians in Gaza are providing an early list of lessons learned that should find their way into event scenarios in and beyond the delivery of humanitarian aid. A short tally of some of the reported shortfalls during the deadly mission include: deviating from rules of engagement (standard operating procedures); failure to assign military members to accompany the aid vehicles; and lack of communications between the military and aid workers – for starters.

I’m reminded of a colleague’s response during a 2023 I/ITSEC flag and general officer panel at the mention of humanitarian and disaster missions. While the observation, “this is as exciting as watching paint dry,” may be a bit over-dramatic, the stakes of getting these and related missions right remain critical. 

There are huge opportunities for the military-industry team to get these diverse low-intensity training missions right – the first time. While participants can expand their use of wargaming these scenarios, so to, should mission rehearsal in the virtual and constructive domains be considered, when time, funds, common language and other resources permit.  

MS&T look forward to following and commenting on training readiness developments in these mission sets.                

Sales CTA Aug 2023.png