The Closers Part VI: NGOs and IOs

The Closers Part VI: NGOs and IOs

by Colonel Gary Anderson

Download the Full Article: The Closers Part VI: NGOs and IOs

Nongovernmental and International Organizations (NGOs and IOs) will likely be present during counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Learning to deal with them effectively is a required skill. They can be helpful, benign, or present problems depending on how they are approached and how they are dealt with by the local commander and Reconstruction Team leadership. As in dealing with anyone from a different culture, some attempt needs to be made to understand where they are coming from and their motivations. Make no mistake, they are coming from a different culture from the military, and will likely have a different mindset from most Reconstruction Team civilian employees who will tend to come from a more bureaucratic culture than the NGOs are used to.

Download the Full Article: The Closers Part VI: NGOs and IOs

Gary Anderson is a retired Marine Corps Colonel. He was the Senior Governance Officer for a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Iraq from 2009-10. He is an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

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An excelent paper which resume many of the issues.
On the other side, it reminds me a lot the course I had about military assests coordination for humanitarian UN mission.
In that sense, as always, it is too caricatural.
I would like to point out two things that need to be a litte corrected:
1) NGO are highly hierarchical. The idea that NGO have a flattered chain of dicision making (not command, the term would be too strong) is fault. If you have to work with an international NGO with good reputation (CARE, IRC, NRC, MSF or DWB, MDM, Oxfam, Premiere Urgence, ACF or AAH, Solidarites...) then do not expect the guy on the ground to be able to make any big decision. For any changes in his mission, he will have to get a go ahead from his boss. That can be extremely frustrating. So, as a rule of thump, I would recomment to first enquiere about what is exactly the NGO doing and and where. Some NGO like MSF can react very quickly but this will happen after a formal consultation of the chain of decision making. cf: field officer will go to field base coordinator, who will contact his technical and log team and then get approval (or NOT) from head of mission. Normaly the process can be quick but never as fast as you expect it.
2) ICRC does not have a "charter" but a mandate and if they keep strong distances from you it's because of it. Most know that ICRC staff has a specific juridical status under GC. They have to keep neutral in the sense of Law of War (The Hague Convention): taking no side. This is important to understand. Once you have this, then informal meeting will hapen. Do not mistake the ICRC staff who does not see you in a bar while he was discussing deep context analyses 20 min before behing close doors in a UN building. This is no offense, it's a security measure and neutrality status preservation. Many NGO without the same status have the same attitude, in the name of their charter.
I will not deny that there is some anti-militarism here and there, just like there is some anti-hippi attitude among military folk. Just understand that their security depend on how local population and armed groups do perceive them. I have too many stories of NGO workers being seen has too close with military forces who paid the high price later in a remote area.
Out of that, I say it's a good paper full of good advices.