The military’s role in disaster response

Members of the Vietnam People's Army. An ASEAN meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam will address the potential role of military aid in humanitarian responses. Photo by: Jerry Morrison / U.S. Department of Defense

Policymakers and experts from the eight countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its 10 supporting country partners are convening in Hanoi, Vietnam, to address humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the region — and potential necessary role for military aid in humanitarian responses.

The second ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting-Plus Working Group (ADMM-Plus) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (EWG-HARD) is co-chaired by China and Vietnam, and runs through Aug. 10.

Representatives of the host country are expected to relay experiences of the training their military forces undergo in general and to respond properly to various kinds of humanitarian crises, like natural disasters.

Participants will also address legal frameworks for military intervention in humanitarian and disaster relief situations.

In November 2011, at the first working group meeting under the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, a senior Chinese military official called for enhanced collaboration between militaries and disaster response teams, as the China Daily then reported.

China now has eight professional humanitarian and disaster relief forces with 50,000 military troops.

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    Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is an award-winning journalist based in New York City. Her coverage on politics, social justice issues, development and climate change has appeared in a variety of international news outlets, including The Guardian, Slate and The Atlantic. She has reported from the U.N. Headquarters, in addition to nine countries outside of the U.S. Amy received her master of arts degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2014. Last year she completed a yearlong fellowship on the oil industry and climate change and co-published her findings with a team in the Los Angeles Times.