Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

DSCA - A Look at U.S. Humanitarian Assistance from DSCA on Vimeo.

In March 1998, the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Reform Initiative transferred responsibility for program management of Humanitarian Assistance and Demining to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) while it was still known as the Defense Security Assistance Agency. The acquisition of these functions considerably expanded the Agency’s Security Cooperation mission, and these programs continue to play a key role in DSCA’s Security Cooperation initiatives today.

Humanitarian Assistance (HA) programs support U.S. military forces by promoting peace and stability in regions of tension and by providing aid and relief in the aftermath of natural or manmade disasters. DSCA’s Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief, and Mine Action (HDM) team provides oversight and executes program management over DoD HA activities. The DoD conducts HA to provide relief and aid for conditions such as human suffering, disease, and hunger.

HA programs are funded by the Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation, first created in 1996. OHDACA funding enables five HA activities that equip, train, and provide essential services to U.S. Ally and partner nations in need. The Humanitarian Assistance program (HA), Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA), Excess Property (EP), and Humanitarian Assistance Transportation (HATP) programs build the capacity of a U.S. Ally and partner nation government to provide essential humanitarian services. Foreign Disaster Relief (FDR) activities support the broader U.S. government immediate response to international disasters by providing DoD-unique capabilities that deliver life-saving assistance. Ultimately, the OHDACA-funded activities aim to save lives, avert crises, and strengthen Security Cooperation relationships between partner nations and the United States.

DSCA provides strategic oversight and management of the DoD’s EP program, which makes nonlethal excess supplies of the Department available for humanitarian relief purposes. Working closely with the Security Cooperation Organizations (SCOs), this program has a long history of providing valuable excess property such as tents, generators, school furniture, and basic medical equipment to partners across the globe. In 2020, despite COVID restrictions, the EP program completed 19 donations worth an estimated $7 million supporting 13 partner nations.

DSCA also manages two DoD HATPs, which transport non-government organization (NGO) humanitarian assistance donations to partner nations worldwide. Through the Denton Program, the DoD provides space-available transportation of NGO donations on military vessels, whereas through the Funded Transportation Program, the DoD ships the NGO donations via most the economical means, subject to availability of funds. In 2020, these programs shipped 56 donations, supporting the humanitarian need in many countries and fostering good U.S. relationships in partner nations where DoD does not necessarily have a presence.

Under the Humanitarian Mine Action program, DSCA operates the Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC), located at Ft. Lee in Virginia. HDTC serves as the DoD lead for training U.S. and partner nation personnel to build capacity in explosives remnants of war disposal and the physical security and stockpile management of conventional stockpiled munitions. HDTC’s staff serve as DoD’s sole humanitarian mine action subject matter experts, providing critical project development guidance and management oversight to Combatant Command humanitarian mine action assistance programs.

In the past year, DSCA has provided significantly more to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. DSCA contributed to the U.S. government global response through the OHDACA appropriation and $120 million in reprogrammed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.  

Using OHDACA and reprogrammed CARES funds, DoD has executed more than $117 million in international COVID-19 support and is planning to implement another $56 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2021. Thus far, DoD has:

  • Provided field hospitals for various African, Central, and South American countries through U.S. Africa and U.S. Southern Command. Recipient countries include Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and many others.
  • Donated $2.2 million in beds and other equipment to COVID-19 response centers and quarantine camps in Honduras.
  • Made over 154,000 N95 masks available from the Albany, Georgia DSCA Humanitarian Assistance Excess Property warehouse to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. military for their use in combatting the pandemic.
  • Transferred over 1,300 cots and $4 million in health assistance to the Philippine Government.

Faces of Security Cooperation

For more information:

DSCA - The Humanitarian Demining Training Center from DSCA on Vimeo.