Humanitarian Assistance Cargo Transportation

Humanitarian assistance is of growing importance to the United States and the Department of Defense’s strategic objectives. Thus, United States combatant commands increasingly rely on humanitarian assistance cargo transportation programs to deliver material to people in need in their areas of responsibility. This report analyzes the options available to these commands in seeking humanitarian assistance cargo transportation. The report offers a description of current operations, with a specific focus on the European area of responsibility, where humanitarian assistance cargo transportation programs have had limited activity.

The analysis reaches the following conclusions: (1) currently no transportation program exists that focuses on providing a quality of service to combatant commands’ humanitarian assistance transportation needs; (2) legal, fiscal, and operational mechanisms exist and are outlined to create such a program: and (3) exclusively space-available transportation is generally insufficient for providing the quality of service that may be required for relationship-building through humanitarian assistance cargo transportation, and contract shipping may be necessary. These conclusions are placed in the context of current humanitarian assistance operations, and relevant operational considerations are highlighted throughout the document. The analysis is based on both a quantitative model of transportation, as well as detailed conversations with Department of Defense humanitarian assistance personnel throughout key Department of Defense organizations.

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