- The Case for Establishing a Civil-Military Disaster-Relief Hub in Northeast Asia
disaster response, Northeast Asia, civil-military cooperation
NOTE ≈ The contents of this article reflect the authors' original views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Joint Forces Staff College, the Department of Defense, or any other body. The authors jointly developed this study as students at the Joint Forces Staff College. They can be reached at <email@example.com>.
This article argues that Asia-Pacific security would be enhanced by the establishment of a properly designed, configured, and resourced civil-military disaster-relief hub in Northeast Asia.
Improving the capacity for cooperative civil-military disaster response has emerged as a priority on the Asia-Pacific security agenda. However, international disaster-response cooperation in Northeast Asia has lagged behind that taking place in Southeast Asia, where relevant initiatives have been led by ASEAN. In this context, establishing a hub for civil-military disaster-relief activities in Northeast Asia would provide a noteworthy opportunity to strengthen regional capacity. Regional government officials and members of the humanitarian community have discussed the establishment of such a hub, but analysis regarding the vision for a facility remains limited in the wider policy community. This article suggests disaster-relief functions for a hub and provides an analytical framework for evaluating options regarding its organization and location.
• Establishing a humanitarian logistics node in Northeast Asia could enhance disaster-response capability in the subregion and complement the capabilities present in other areas.
• Including command-and-control facilities in a disaster-response hub could provide improved opportunity for interface between disaster-relief providers, forces, and resources.
• A disaster-relief hub could serve as a fusion center for the archiving, sharing, and development of humanitarian expertise.
• A disaster-relief hub could be best developed as a bilateral or trilateral effort by national governments, with the sponsoring governments building cooperative relationships with partners throughout the humanitarian community.
• Given the proactive policy stance that Japan has taken toward developing a disaster-relief hub and Japan's growing role in disaster-relief activities, the U.S.-Japan alliance may provide the preferred foundation for a hub.
• No location will optimize the opportunity to fulfill all the potential functions of a civil-military disaster-relief hub, but specific evaluation criteria could guide determination of the most efficient and effective location. [End Page 52]
In recent years, improving cooperative civil-military capacity for disaster response has emerged as a priority on the security cooperation agenda in the Asia-Pacific. Much of the progress has been focused in Southeast Asia, a subregion that is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and where forums sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have facilitated tangible action in building disaster-response cooperation. Although Japan, China, and South Korea all possess significant capabilities to render expeditionary civil-military operations for disaster relief, international cooperation on disaster response in Northeast Asia has lagged behind, and these nations have generally followed the lead of ASEAN arrangements.1 Recognizing the need for improved cooperation, and seeking to capitalize on the momentum in Southeast Asia, the United States has similarly used ASEAN and ASEAN-sponsored institutions to focus its efforts to build disaster-response capacity. In contrast, the U.S.-Japan and U.S.-South Korea alliances have been relatively slow to fulfill their potential as enablers of regional disaster relief, even as U.S. government agencies and forward-deployed military forces regularly make significant contributions to relief efforts within the region and the United States continues to rely on these alliances as cornerstones of its Asia-Pacific security strategy. Given these shortfalls, the United States should seek to strengthen the contributions of its Northeast Asian partners to developing disaster-relief capacity in the region.
This article argues that both U.S. alliances and Asia-Pacific security would be enhanced by the establishment of a properly configured, resourced, and located civil-military humanitarian assistance/disaster-relief (HADR) hub in Northeast Asia. This concept is not new; it has been suggested in a variety of forums and formally discussed...