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Civil-Military Engagement: An Empirical Account of Humanitarian Perceptions of Civil-Military Coordination During the Response to Typhoon Haiyan

  • Vincenzo Bollettino (a1)

This study sought to identify how humanitarian actors in natural disasters coordinate (or communicate) with the military to identify the needs of disaster-affected populations, identify how coordination should be undertaken for the delivery of relief goods, perceive the effectiveness of such coordination, perceive the role that training played in preparation for coordinating with the military and the effectiveness of this training, and view the overall civil-military engagement and its implications for the independence of the humanitarian sector.


A survey instrument focused on participant perceptions of the civil-military engagement in response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was sent to country directors and agency leads who played a role in the response.


Although the data supported anecdotal accounts that the coordination between civilian and military actors during the disaster relief efforts in Typhoon Haiyan worked well, they also revealed that fewer than half of the respondents were familiar with the Guidelines on the Use of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief (the “Oslo Guidelines”) and only 12% of respondents thought that the Oslo Guidelines were used to develop organizational policy on humanitarian aid agency engagement with military actors.


Humanitarians felt that international militaries and the Philippines Armed Forces played an important role in ensuring that aid reached people in need, particularly in the early days of the response. However, less than half of the respondents were familiar with the Oslo Guidelines. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:7-10)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Vincenzo Bollettino, PhD, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, 14 Story Street, 2nd Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138 (e-mail:
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1. Metcalfe, V, Haysom, S, Gordon, S. Trends and Challenges in Humanitarian Civil–Military Coordination: A Review of the Literature. HPG Working Paper. London, United Kingdom: Humanitarian Policy Group; 2012. Accessed June 26, 2015.
2. Australian Civil-Military Centre. Same Space - Different Mandates: A Civil-Military Guide to Australian Stakeholders in International Disaster and Conflict Response. Australian Civil-Military Centre; 2012. Accessed June 26, 2015.
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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