committee judges that the United States will lack the resources and, in some instances, the strategic justification for responding alone to every request for assistance in dealing with climate-related contingencies, even when U.S. interests may be directly at stake.

The Haiti Earthquake Response

The response to the January 2010 earthquake disaster in Haiti provides some insights into the role that U.S. naval forces may be expected to play in future international HA/DR climate-related contingencies. Although the earthquake was not a climate-related event, there would very likely be operational similarities to climate-related disasters; therefore, this incident may be instructive for future naval missions. A hallmark of the January 2010 operation was the U.S. Navy’s cooperation not only with other U.S. military services but also with U.S. allies, the United Nations, nations with no formal military ties to the United States, and private organizations. A preliminary report of the lessons learned in Haiti includes the following concerns:4

  • Balance the Push Versus Pull of Forces:5 Quick initial deployment is critical. However, once local needs are determined, better coordination is needed to assure the proper balance between pushing troops and solutions onto local commands, versus the pull of forces as needed.

  • Coordination with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Is Critical: NGOs are critical partners in HA/DR operations, providing relief along with local government resources once naval personnel missions are complete. U.S. naval personnel should continue to build on its relationships and formal programs with NGOs.

  • Preplan for Strategic Communications Needs: Due to the interagency and international scope of the effort, strategic communications and coordinated post-mission withdrawal plans are needed, including preplanning and coordination with the Department of State.

  • Improve Inbound Cargo Coordination: To help avoid misrouting and improve efficiency, formal coordination with stakeholders should be established for handling of inbound cargo, including any special handling requirements.

  • Improve Medical Planning/Coordination: Early arrival of experienced medical personnel and medical planners is critical. Navy hospital ships are indispensable, but depending on location of the crisis, their arrival may take weeks.


CAPT Alfred Collins, USN, Chief of Staff, Fourth Fleet, U.S. Navy Southern Command, “Haiti HA/DR and Climate Change Impact on Naval Operations in SOUTHCOM AOR,” presentation to the committee, March 23, 2010.


A push-pull system in logistical supply situations describes the movement of a product (in this case, personnel) between two subjects. The consumers (i.e., local commands) usually “pull” the products they demand for their needs, while the suppliers (i.e., command headquarters) “push” them toward the consumers.

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