When asked on his command’s relationship with the U.S. Public Health Service and NGO’s like Project Hope and Operation Smile, MG William “Burke” Garrett III, commanding general, U.S. Army Africa, told USNI Blog:

Yeah, great question. One of the things we’re trying to do is build relationships now with organizations that are operating and connecting business in Africa to include nongovernment organizations, humanitarian organizations of all types.

Of course, being a military organization, there’s going to be some that are resistant to our outreach and that’s entirely understandable. But General Ward has charged us with doing no harm, in terms of interfering with activities in Africa that are being conducted by nongovernment organizations, or other U.S. government agencies and organizations.

So we are very careful in that regard as we move forward. But in many cases, we’re trying to get after the same ends in terms of bringing positive change to Africa. And where we can partner, we’re certainly interested in doing that. And likewise, we absolutely respect and understand the nongovernment organizations that have no desire to associate with a military organization.

Do no harm sounds good to me. What has been your experience working with NGOs?

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power

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  • Andy (JADAA)

    All I feel comfortable in saying in this venue is that I’m certain the General’s staff has briefed him on prior experiences with NGO’s in the Balkans, various regions of the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America. Not all NGO’s are created equal and not all are as altruistic and ideology free in reality as their charters may portray them.

    Caveat Emptor. And go talk to the Colombians about their experiences before getting too cozy.

  • Chap

    I’d start by looking into the U.S. Institute of Peace, a Congressionally mandated organization dedicated to nonviolent conflict resolution. They understand military at first glance better than many NGOs and can point you to organizations and resources. Notice all the high ranking military who show up on the front page.

    This book looks interesting; its predecessor has come in handy on occasion.

  • Chap

    Okay, reattack on this one. NGOs have changed from their Dorothea Dix days and although Andy’s point is very well taken the trend for NGOs has been towards professionalism. There’s still a cultural difference between people in NGOs and people in the military, although on the tactical level people usually figure out how to get along. Interaction.org (an aggregate of agencies) is a great place to start when working with aid agencies because of their prior thinking about it. (Check out this pdf on guidelines, for instance.) Also, NGOs are not aid agencies and vice versa, and aid is inherently a political act…which bothers the supposedly apolitical agencies no end.

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