Bookmark and share

Follow us

The Effectiveness of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response
A report by SIPRI
ISBN 978-91-85114-57-3

Click to enlarge
This publication is available for purchase directly from SIPRI. Click on the purchase button below. It can also be downloaded for free.

About the book
About the authors
Download the executive summary

This study examines the advantages, limitations and implications of involving foreign military assets—personnel, equipment and expertise—in the relief operations that follow major natural disasters. It presents the findings of a research project carried out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) with the support of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Foreign military assets have made large contributions to several recent natural disaster relief operations, yet their use in such operations remains controversial. The questions asked range from matters of principle—is it appropriate for foreign forces to take part in humanitarian work?—to more practical considerations such as cost, how effectively foreign military assets can participate in civilian-led humanitarian operations and how the presence of foreign military assets affects the ability of civilian humanitarian organizations to act independently and safely. This study provides an overview of the current use of foreign military assets in natural disaster response, including how and why they are deployed. It also analyses the role played by foreign military assets in several major disaster relief operations: in Mozambique following the floods in 2000, in Haiti following floods and tropical storm Jeanne in 2004, in Aceh province, Indonesia, following the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, and in Pakistan-administered Kashmir following the South Asia earthquake of 2005.

Back to top


Executive summary (download)
Chapter 1. Background
Chapter 2. A changing landscape for disaster relief assistance
Chapter 3. Overview of the use of foreign military assets: 1997–2006
Chapter 4. The decision to use military assets
Chapter 5. The effectiveness of using foreign military assets in natural disaster response
Chapter 6. Findings and recommendations
(download the main chapters)
Annex A. Case study: Floods and cyclones in Mozambique, 2000 (download)
Annex B. Case study: Floods and tropical storm Jeanne, Haiti, 2004 (download)
Annex C. Case study: Indian Ocean tsunami, Aceh province, Indonesia, 2004 (download)
Annex D. Case study: South Asia earthquake, Pakistan, 2005 (download)
Annex E. Lists of respondents
Annex F. Questionnaires used in the study
About the authors
(download annexes E and F and about the authors)

Download the full report (PDF, 3 MB)

Back to top

About the authors

Hassan Ahmad (Singapore) was lead researcher for the Indonesia case study. He is the chief executive of the Singapore-based humanitarian NGO Mercy Relief. He has extensive field experience in the area of humanitarian relief and has planned, coordinated and led Singaporean civilian relief missions to Afghanistan (2002), Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka (2004); Nias, Indonesia (2005); and Pakistan (2005). He was previously chief executive of the rural development NGO Lien Aid.

Dr Jean-Yves Haine (Belgium) was lead researcher for the Haiti case study. He is a researcher with the Euro-Atlantic, Regional and Global Security Project at SIPRI. He was previously a research fellow at the Government Department, Harvard University, a senior research fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris and European Security Research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Josefina Löfgren (Sweden) was a researcher for the study. She is a researcher and political analyst working in the fields of emergency relief, international education and conflict prevention. She has worked with several international organizations, government agencies and NGOs.

Tim Randall (United Kingdom) was lead researcher for the Pakistan case study. He is director of the Oxford Disaster Management Group, providing consultancy, research and operational support in the field of disaster management. Prior to this he was director of the Cranfield Disaster Management Centre, and an officer in the British Army. He has also worked for the UN and the British Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the area of disaster management in around 40 countries.

Sharon Wiharta (Indonesia) was research coordinator for the study and lead researcher for the Mozambique case study. She is a researcher with the SIPRI Armed Conflict and Conflict Management Project at SIPRI, where she leads the project’s work on peacekeeping and peace-building.

Back to top


Publisher: SIPRI
ISBN 978-91-85114-57-3 - paperback
140 pp.
March 2008
Price: €7.50 per copy plus €5 shipping and handling per order


Recent and forthcoming

Full list of publications

Permission requests

How to obtain SIPRI publications


Armed conflict and conflict management

Global and regional security

Military expenditure

Arms production

Arms transfers

Military technology

Chemical and biological weapons

Arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament


SIPRI Yearbook

SIPRI monographs

SIPRI Research Reports

Chemical & Biological Warfare Studies

SIPRI Policy Papers

SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security

SIPRI Fact Sheets, Background Papers and Policy Briefs

EU Non-proliferation Papers

Other publications