Author (Your Name)

Delia C. Welsh, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Global Studies Program


Patrice M. Franko

Second Advisor

Deborah Norden


This paper will examine the ways in which military participation in humanitarian intervention affects the overall relief mission. Although the armed forces are often the only organization that can provide the large-scale and immediate results in a humanitarian emergencies, there are costs and constraints to the participation of the military in such missions. Part I The first section of the project is an overview of US participation in humanitarian affairs since the end 'Of the Second World War. How does humanitarian intervention differ from the traditional roles and duties of the professional soldier? What role does intervention play in US national interest? What are the criteria for intervening in a complex humanitarian disaster? Part II The second section address the case of Somalia and the challenges the US military and other participants faced in the relief mission. The addition of independent, non-governmental efforts, although vital to relief efforts, complicates humanitarian operations. The successful completion of such missions often depends on effective coordination between all interested parties, including the donor government and its military, the host government, the non-governmental organizations (NGO's), the recipients of the aid, and any hostile forces. Without this coordination, the danger and vagueness of military participation in the missions are much higher. What are the events that led up to the decision for US intervention, and who are the other actors that participate in these operations? Why was it necessary for the US military to become involved and how were forces used? Then in this section will evaluate military coordination with the other relief actors, and the ways in which US military participation affected the overall mission. Part III Finally, the third section will look at the lessons learned from the experience of Somalia, the extent to which this affected decisions to intervene in Rwanda and Haiti and the planning for these interventions. Humanitarian intervention and disaster relief have moved from the margins of military planning to the forefront. While there is a broad consensus that military troops are not appropriate tools for completely building or rebuilding a country, their appropriate role in humanitarian interventions is less dear. Despite the "unprofessional" nature of relief efforts, the US military, since the end of World War II has been called on to engage in disaster relief, and will continue to do so. The real challenge for policymakers is in determining when and how US forces will participate in interventions that involve political conflicts.


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US Military, humanitarian intervention, Somalia, national interest, humanitarian relief, conflict