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Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Humanitarian assistance and disaster response are core DoD capabilities, but they are always conducted in a supporting role to assist other U.S. Government agencies. DoD has the assets and experience to deploy necessary relief personnel and resources to all corners of the globe at a moment’s notice—there is no actor better prepared to respond in times of crisis. 

We have seen the positive impact of DoD’s efforts on the broader U.S. Government response to international disasters in a number of cases: 

  • In Operation Tomodochi, after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011—U.S. forces were instrumental in delivering food, water, blankets, clothing, and medical supplies to support Japanese civilian and military partners.
  • During Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Service Members were on the ground working with the Philippine military to provide essential medical treatment and supplies.
  • During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Service Members were involved in constructing treatment centers and providing logistical support to stem the spread of infection.
  • In the aftermath of the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake, U.S. military personnel were instrumental in supporting relief efforts with transportation and medical treatment, and where previous training exercises with the Nepalese military significant improved their capacity to respond to the crisis. 

These engagements have provided invaluable hands-on experience for service members that helps improve our future contributions to disaster relief efforts. They demonstrate time and again the value of our partnership-building activities, as partner nations have improved their disaster response capabilities after joining U.S. military in training exercises.

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Airman builds medical relationships in Vietnam

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Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Cody Butler, a physical therapist and commander of the 78th Medical Group Clinical Medicine Flight, poses with other members of his engagement team in Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, Nov. 30, 2017. Butler was in Vietnam as part of a team seeing patients and building relationships with local physicians during the humanitarian assistance engagement Operation Pacific Angel Vietnam 2017. (Air Force photo by Jonathan Bell)

Operation Pacific Angel ensures the militaries in the Pacific region are able to work together should a humanitarian assistance need arise

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Crabtree, a medic with the 285th Medical Company (Area Support) and a registered nurse, performs a medical assessment on an infant less than one month old Oct. 27, 2017, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. Military medical personnel were critical to disaster response related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. Joanna Bradshaw)

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Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

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DoD Instruction 6010.22: National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)

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This instruction establishes policy for DoD participation in the NDMS, a joint federal, State, and local mutual aid response system, to provide a coordinated medical response, patient movement, and definitive patient care during a military health emergency, U.S. national emergency, or U.S. domestic disaster.

DoD Directive 5100.46, Foreign Disaster Relief, July 6, 2012

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DoD Support to Foreign Disaster Relief Handbook

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DoD Support to Foreign Disaster Relief Handbook

DoD Instruction 6000.16: Military Health Support for Stability Operations

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This Instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides instructions for military health support of stability operations in accordance with the authority in Reference (a). Military health support for stability operations is hereafter referred to as medical stability operations (MSOs).

Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Joint Publication 3-29

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Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Joint Publication 3-07.6

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