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Leading Air Mobility Operations in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies

Lieutenant Colonel Eileen M. Isola, USAF
2002, 30 pages
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Cost: $0, AU Press Code: MP-28

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In the last dozen years we have seen a tremendous increase in US participation in and leadership of complex humanitarian emergencies (CHE). Given the breadth and depth of challenges facing each mission, these operations are always complex in tactical and operational execution. But, of even greater import, is the unwavering requirement for our war fighters to truly understand the highly strategic nature of CHEs and just how complex they really are when even the most seemingly insignificant tactical task can have global consequences and hugely complicating impacts on US national objectives. Our joint and service doctrine has come a long way in the last decade toward providing a training foundation for war fighters tasked with leading these operations. However, we can and should do more to educate those who will and do lead CHEs on not only what makes CHEs so strategically complex but also on the crosscutting tasks that will go a long way toward achieving political and mission success. A huge portion of the military burden in support of these operations falls on the shoulders of the Mobility Air Forces (MAF). Lt Col Eileen M. Isola’s Leading Air Mobility Operations in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies provides just such an educational foundation for MAF war fighters charged with leading CHEs. She provides a superb synthesis of a dozen years of lessons learned from many resources and institutions, sifting through the tactical and operational lessons learned so as to focus her research into the most important tenets for strategic success in a CHE: build a team of teams, gather and share information (not “intelligence”), and establish centers for interagency success. She reviews key joint and service doctrine manuals, culling critical nuances that would likely be overlooked by war fighters new to the CHE environment, or rushed in a crisis deployment. Her cultural comparison of the military and nongovernmental organizations is insightful and valuable. Throughout her work Colonel Isola provides tangible, real examples from past operations of what worked and what did not—and why. The implications for the future are clear.

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