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Newsletter 12-21
September 2012

Introduction

The complex and ambiguous nature of today's contemporary operational environment requires leaders of extraordinary skill and ability. Regardless of where the U.S. military conducts operations, the operational environment will often include large groups of displaced populations. Some will be victims of forced migration due to conflict, whereas others may be victims of voluntary migration as a result of difficult humanitarian hardships. Human history, remarkably consistent over time, suggests that U.S. military forces will face difficult challenges in future conflicts, especially in the areas of law, logistics, and security; these difficulties are often exacerbated when dealing with population groups that are displaced and suffering. History has also shown these population groups are especially vulnerable and desperately need the assistance and protection that often eludes them.

In recent years, much work has been done in the international arena to address the concerns that displaced populations present, namely under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Although there is significant legal precedent in how refugees and displaced persons are to be treated, the challenges associated with large numbers of displaced persons have been largely ignored by the U.S. military, and scant doctrine or procedures have been written and shared throughout the profession.

To this end, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College has developed an elective course to facilitate increased awareness and understanding of this daunting challenge. The articles that follow are the consolidated efforts of the intermediate level education students who participated in the study. Their essays help define the problems that military commanders and units will face when in operational environments, where displaced persons are a constant, and will help to clarify the nature of the humanitarian crisis that most likely will accompany the displacement phenomena.

Understanding the context of the issue is essential for all leaders. This handbook provides keen insight into the military's role in dealing with refugees and displaced persons.


 

 
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