Dilemmas and controversies within civilian and military organizations in the execution of humanitarian aid in Iraq: A review


  • Melinda J. Morton, MD, MPH
  • Gilbert M. Burnham, MD, PhD




civil military, humanitarian assistance, Iraq


Civilian humanitarian assistance organizations and military forces are working in a similar direction in many humanitarian operations around the world. However, tensions exist over the role of the military in such operations. The purpose of this article is to review cultural perspectives of civilian and military actors and to discuss recent developments in civil-military humanitarian collaboration in the provision of health services in Iraq for guiding such collaborative efforts in postconflict and other settings in future. Optimal collaborative efforts are most likely to be achieved through the following tenets: defining appropriate roles for military forces at the beginning of humanitarian operations (optimally the provision of transportation, logistical coordination, and security), promoting development of ongoing relationships between civilian and military agencies, establishment of humanitarian aid training programs for Department of Defense personnel, and the need for the military to develop and use quantitative aid impact indicators for assuring quality and effectiveness of humanitarian aid.

Author Biographies

Melinda J. Morton, MD, MPH

Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Gilbert M. Burnham, MD, PhD

Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


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How to Cite

Morton, MD, MPH, M. J., and G. M. Burnham, MD, PhD. “Dilemmas and Controversies Within Civilian and Military Organizations in the Execution of Humanitarian Aid in Iraq: A Review”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 5, no. 6, Nov. 2010, pp. 385-91, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2010.0044.



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