In this chapter, the committee focuses on the notion of civil–military
cooperation (CIMIC). It identifies where the military and civilian sectors are
working well together; where there are impediments to effective coordination;
and how they could be reduced or removed.
The committee has placed a greater emphasis on CIMIC rather than the
broader government and non-government sector because most of the evidence before
the committee discussed issues of coordination and cooperation through a CIMIC
paradigm. The committee understands that, historically, the military has been
the major contributor to peacekeeping and that many of the models that are used
in a peacekeeping setting derive from military culture. The committee is
mindful that examining issues of coordination and cooperation through the
concept of CIMIC does not facilitate a discussion of alternative approaches. It
does, however, allow the committee to analyse in detail an important aspect of the
relationship between the government and non-government sectors in a
The concepts of civil–military cooperation and coordination
have received increased attention in recent years. At the international level,
the UN's civil–military coordination (CMCoord) doctrine focuses on
facilitating the humanitarian mission in a militarised environment and creating
mutual understanding between the military and civilian components of an
The concept of humanitarian civil–military coordination used by the
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
is consistent with that used by the UN Civil–Military Coordination Section. It
defines this concept as:
The essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and
military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and
promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimize inconsistency, and
when appropriate pursue common goals. Basic strategies range from coexistence
to cooperation. Coordination is a shared responsibility facilitated by liaison
and common training.
In contrast to the UN CMCoord, which emphasises 'shared responsibility',
civil–military cooperation (CIMIC) tends to look at cooperation from a military
Importance of CIMIC
Although the military and civilian components of a peacekeeping
operation have been working side by side for many years, the increasing levels
of interaction between them have underlined the significance of civil–military
coordination. The growing awareness of the importance of coordination has
produced a body of thought, which is still evolving, on CIMIC. The central
concern of CIMIC is with establishing and maintaining a constructive
relationship between the military and civilian sectors.
CIMIC is often referred to as a 'force multiplier', but there are a
number of significant difficulties in achieving effective coordination.
The UN civil–military officer field handbook notes that problems with
coordination extend to, among other things, security, medical evacuation,
logistics, transport, communications and information management. It states
The challenges include such issues as ensuring that
humanitarians have the access they require, but at the same time do not become
a target. Other challenges include minimizing the competition for scarce
resources such as ports, supply routes, airfields and other logistic
The failure to establish effective and appropriate civil–military
relations not only creates inefficiencies but can also have more serious
consequences for the mission.
Thus, in complex missions, militaries need to be able to do more than just
generate combat power. To avoid duplication of efforts, prevent wasting energy
and resources, and to promote the safety and wellbeing of all, both military
and humanitarian workers need to ensure that their activities are
complementary. The committee now examines the ADF's approach to CIMIC.
Defence CIMIC Doctrine
The Department of Defence recognised that the military 'seldom brings
success in its own right'. It acknowledged the importance of coordinating
activities with humanitarian aid agencies, including AusAID and NGOs:
Such planning can ensure military efforts do not cut across
carefully planned NGO campaigns. Conversely uncoordinated NGOs' goals and
actions can unwittingly contribute to a conflict or compromise the desired
security of a mission.
Defence has formulated its own Defence Civil–Military Cooperation
Doctrine and procedures. These are designed to assist in planning and
implementing ADF missions within the wider civilian context. Defence is of the
view that the current procedures, which focus on role definition, planning and
consultation, meet its objectives for peacekeeping operations. It acknowledged,
however, that 'to the extent that these procedures can produce greater
cooperation in mutually securing respective ADF and civilian goals, there may
be some benefit in further alignment with UN procedures'.
Major General Ford explained that the term 'civil–military cooperation'
developed from a military background. He noted that it has been 'seen as the
way the military gets other organisations to work with it' and how it makes
sure that NGOs 'do not interfere' with military operations.
Even so, in his view, ADF CIMIC doctrine tended to be more encompassing in
Certainly we still run CIMIC [cooperation] courses in the
Australian Defence Force rather than civil–military coordination courses.
Having said that...generally the discussion is much more integrated than the name
and the background of that term ‘CIMIC’ suggests.
Even so, according to Major General Smith, Austcare, there is a difference
in approaches to CIMIC. For example, in the view of NGOs, ADF's approach to
CIMIC tends to be: ‘How can we work with civilian agencies to achieve our
military mission?’ He explained that the UN focus is on 'civil–military
coordination rather than on cooperation'. He suggested that while there may
only be a name difference, 'the definition is very different'.
AusAID considered that, while reflecting different perspectives, both
the UN and the ADF approaches to civil–military interaction were appropriate:
In essence, the UN doctrine approaches CIMIC from the civilian
direction while the ADF approaches CIMIC from the military side. Both are
complementary and allow for each group to establish operating arrangements
(from coexistence to cooperation) appropriate to the entire range of hostile,
potentially hostile, or stable environments encountered.
Nonetheless, while recognising the importance of the ADF aligning its
activity with its military mission, AusAID also noted that the ADF should
remain cognisant of the broader picture in order to provide NGOs with 'the
space and independence they need to operate'.
It stated further that, 'More gains could be made in terms of joint conceptualisation,
joint planning and joint preparations, including work on joint doctrine or
In the context of 'continuous improvement', it was of the view that there was
room for improvement in 'closer doctrine and policy settings and in recognising
the separate but overlapping contributions' by both sectors.
World Vision Australia observed that ADF's processes in developing its
approach to CIMIC had been inclusive:
...as the ADF were developing their policy for civil–military
engagement, engagement with NGOs over the development of that policy seemed
crucial to them and it seemed crucial to us as well, because it gave us both a
better understanding of the space in which we work and how we can operate more
effectively in the field.
ACFID also reported a good relationship with the ADF in relation to
In contrast, Austcare expressed concern about the appropriateness of the
ADF's approach to CIMIC. It argued that the Defence CIMIC doctrine is focussed
on the ADF's role and ensuring that civil–military relations facilitate the ADF
In its view, the ADF needs to go further:
...and be prepared to share and adjust its doctrine to accommodate
the views of key civilian agencies, or risk criticism of being unable to
reflect civilian requirements. The adoption of CMCoord doctrine would obviate
It recommended that the ADF and the AFP align their CIMIC doctrine and
procedures with those of the UN, 'thereby ensuring a uniform standard based on
The committee recognises that the failure to establish effective and
appropriate civil–military relations not only creates inefficiencies but can
have more serious consequences for missions.
The ADF has developed a CIMIC doctrine to assist it to plan and implement ADF
missions in the wider civilian context. A number of NGOs reported that the
ADF's approach to CIMIC was appropriate. AusAID agreed but was of the view that
'in the context of continuous improvement', there was scope for improvement.
Defence indicated that there may be some benefit in further aligning their
doctrine with UN procedures to achieve greater cooperation between ADF and NGOs
in meeting their respective objectives. Austcare went further to suggest that
the ADF should adjust its CIMIC doctrine to accommodate civilian requirements. In
light of the evolving nature of CIMIC and the suggestion that ADF's doctrine
could be improved, the committee believes that an ADF review of its CIMIC doctrine
would be timely.
The committee recommends that, in consultation with
AusAID and ACFID, Defence review its civil–military cooperation doctrine,
giving consideration to identifying measures to improve coordination between
the ADF and the NGO sector when engaged in peacekeeping activities.
The committee recommends further that Defence
include a discussion on its CIMIC doctrine in the upcoming Defence White Paper
as well as provide an account of the progress made in developing the doctrine
and its CIMIC capability in its annual report.
It should be noted that the AFP now forms an important part of the
security contingent in complex peacekeeping operations, and its relations with
NGOs are important. Professor Raymond Apthorpe and Mr Jacob Townsend commented
that it 'might be worth attempting to lead a progressive conceptual shift from
CIMIC (civil–military cooperation) to CIMPIC (civil–military–police
Both the AFP and AusAID saw merits in this proposal, though they were concerned
that recognition must be given to the different roles of these groups and any
such doctrine should not compromise their core functions.
The committee also sees value in this proposal to consider the police component
in developing CIMIC doctrine.
As part of this review process, the committee
recommends that, in consultation with AusAID and other relevant government
agencies and ACFID, Defence and the AFP consider the merits of a
civil–military–police cooperation doctrine. The consideration given to this
doctrine would be reflected in the committee's proposed white
paper on peacekeeping.
A most important factor when considering CIMIC doctrine is how well it
works in practice. In developing and implementing its CIMIC doctrine, the ADF
and government as a whole should start by looking at the early stages of a
Planning at pre-deployment level
As noted previously, NGOs remain largely outside the formal structure
for conceiving and planning peacekeeping operations. There is no standing or
formal whole-of-government mechanism for government agencies and NGOs to
consult at the strategic planning phase. The UN CMCoord states quite clearly
that 'to ensure all issues are given adequate attention and to facilitate
timely direction, coordination should take place at the highest possible
Some witnesses were critical of the lack of planning between government and
NGOs at this strategic level.
Major General Smith, Austcare, was of the view that 'it is too late to
commit to an operation and then expect NGOs to magically fit into whatever
template' might have been decided. He argued that 'The earlier that representatives
of NGOs can be brought into this planning process, the better it will be'. For
example, based on his own experience as an ADF peacekeeper in East Timor, he
considered that INTERFET would have benefited from better coordinated planning:
The mistake that I made—and it was a total lack of training and
understanding—was in relation to the humanitarian dimension of that operation.
There was a clause in the mandate that said that INTERFET would conduct
humanitarian operations within force capabilities. Had I been educated about
the way the UN works, I would have immediately organised with the incoming
humanitarian coordinator being deployed to East Timor to arrive in Australia
for discussions with General Peter Cosgrove to ensure that the humanitarian
plan had been sorted out in advance. As it was, it took 10 days on the ground
before the humanitarian coordinator and the INTERFET commander actually got
their humanitarian plans in sync. They were actually very, very divergent. That
is an example of the sort of cooperation that I think needs to go on in
planning and preparation.
He advised the committee that he was unaware of any current mechanism,
'where the NGO community, AusAID and Defence come together in any type of
planning way for any of these crises.' In his view, the situation should be
Overall, Austcare noted that more needed to be done to improve Australia's
'whole-of-nation' effectiveness. It stated that post-mission reports have
'repeatedly indicated a failure of adequate civil–military preparation and
Austcare suggested that AusAID take a greater role in facilitating a common
understanding of such doctrine and procedures among Australian NGOs.
ACFID, the peak organisation for Australian humanitarian NGOs, stated
that its engagement with the ADF is limited compared to that with other federal
Looking out to the next decade the one area that strikes us as
being a bit weak, given how effective the dialogue is with AusAID and how it is
emerging with the AFP as well, is having an informal dialogue with the ADF in
the way we do on a variety of other issues with other agencies.
According to ACFID, there were advantages to be gained through better
dialogue between the military and civilian sectors and from NGOs having a
better understanding of the way the ADF plans and prepares for operations. In
particular, Mr Paul O'Callaghan, ACFID, saw benefits in further discussion
on 'issues to do with protection, humanitarian space and capacity building',
and in preparing for the transitions from short-term, security-focussed phases
of operations to longer-term reconstruction tasks.
AusAID also commented on the importance of collaborative strategic
planning. In its view, 'Defence planners and task force commanders and their staff
need to be aware of the overall peacemaking and peacebuilding agenda and how
best to interact with them'. It proposed that by working closely with Defence
at the headquarters level, they could develop 'an effective plan for engaging
with the broad humanitarian and development community to achieve the Australian
Government's objective in undertaking peace operations'.
The committee believes that the aim of CIMIC should be to manage the
interaction between the military and civilian participants in a peacekeeping
operation so that their activities coordinate. But today's military operations
take place in complex environments where the military engage in a range of
activities not all of which are strictly military in nature. Clearly,
consultation and planning between the ADF and NGOs, from the earliest stages of
a peacekeeping operation, establishes the foundation for a good working
relationship in the field. The committee notes the call by NGOs for better
dialogue at a more strategic level between the ADF and NGOs.
CIMIC at operational level
At an operational level, the importance for military–NGO cooperation and
coordination is apparent. There are a range of coordination tasks confronting
both the military and NGOs. AusAID noted that coordination is required in the
areas of 'security, medical evacuation, logistics, transport, communications
and information management'. It agreed with the statement made in the UN
Civil–Military Coordination Officer Field Handbook, quoted earlier, that
coordination challenges also arise 'in providing humanitarian actors with
access to affected populations, while ensuring they do not become a target...minimising
the competition for scarce resources such as ports, supply routes, airfields
and other logistics infrastructure'.
The committee first considers the extent to which the ADF has developed
a CIMIC capability.
Developing CIMIC capability
Some NGOs expressed concerns about ADF's CIMIC capability. For example, referring
to INTERFET, the Australian Institute of International Affairs was of the view
that CIMIC relationships were generally ad hoc and there was a lack of
It stated that a general lack of resources available for civilian tasks led to
the conclusion that the ADF 'lacked specialist civil–military capability, and
that in any future coalition operations such capability was a major
Austcare suggested that the ADF had been slow to develop and implement
It pointed to more recent events in Timor-Leste in 2006 where, in its view,
'civil-military assets were not applied with optimal effect, causing dissatisfaction
with the local community as well as among humanitarian agencies and NGOs'.
World Vision Australia reported inadequacies also based on the recent
experiences in Timor-Leste. It noted incidents where certain parts of the ADF
were engaged with civil society but 'when asked if and how they related to
CIMIC, they did not seem to know of its function regarding their operations'.
The importance of developing an effective CIMIC capability takes on a
greater significance in peacekeeping operations where Australia is taking a
lead role. AusAID submitted that there is currently a gap in this area:
Necessity has prompted the OCHA [UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs] to develop an effective humanitarian-focused
civil-military coordination capability for use in situations involving both
significant military and humanitarian operations. Australia needs to develop a
similar capability to be used in those few situations where Australia leads a
peace operation and there is no OCHA presence.
The committee notes that the current government, in its pre-election policy
document on Defence, recognised that the recent deployment of ADF to Solomon
Islands and Timor-Leste demonstrated the need to improve ADF's CIMIC
capability. It indicated that it would expand the ADF’s CIMIC capability consistent
with the UN’s emphasis on civil–military cooperation.
In conjunction with the committee's proposal that the ADF review its CIMIC
doctrine, the committee is of the view that the ADF should also examine ways to
strengthen its CIMIC capability.
The UN CMCoord policy has set down guidelines for the training of
civil–military coordination staff. The committee is of the view that the ADF
should consider these guidelines in reviewing their CIMIC capability.
The committee recommends that in conjunction with
its review of CIMIC doctrine, ADF consider ways to strengthen its CIMIC
Developing CIMIC capability, however, must take account of a number of
Challenges for CIMIC
A major challenge for CIMIC stems from the different expectations and
priorities of NGOs and the ADF. Mr March, AusAID, described the different roles
in the following way: the 'military seek to neutralise and separate actors;
civil response seeks to empower and reconcile actors'.
Lt Gen Gillespie observed that the complexity of the security environment
complicates military–NGO relations in peacekeeping operations:
It is okay if you are in a very clinical humanitarian situation,
but if you add to it a security dimension...that is where we get the operating
space that creates those sorts of frictions.
He referred to potential clashes in the early stages of a peacekeeping
operation between the humanitarian assistance and security phases:
If it is a particularly bad incident that you are dealing with,
then you will have traumatised people with no food and no means of income. That
is when NGO communities and defence need to have a far better understanding of
each other’s requirements and do it and coordinate their efforts in a better
Major General Ford acknowledged that issues surrounding the concept of
'humanitarian space' are particularly challenging. He agreed with the view that
the more robustly the military are required to act to maintain security, the
more difficult it is to achieve coordination and cooperation between the activities
of humanitarian organisations and the military. He added, 'There is a lot of
work going on now about determining how best you approach that'.
AusAID also noted that the different priorities can create tensions:
Military deployments are undertaken to conduct specific
missions...and civilian actors operating in the same geographic area may be
engaged in a range of activities in support of possibly different mandates.
The fundamental differences in the roles and functions of the military
and civilian peacekeepers are not going to change. Defence's primary goal will
be to create a secure environment while NGOs' objective will be to deliver
assistance to affected populations. Developing an effective CIMIC means
accepting, understanding and working with these differences.
Evidence presented to the committee suggested that, to work
cooperatively and to coordinate their activities, organisations need to have a
better understanding of each other's roles and mandates. For example, Mr Shepherd,
WVA, explained that 'We cannot operate in that space without understanding the
context of the other players within that space'.
Despite this acknowledgement, Major General Smith commented that there
'is a huge misunderstanding among many NGOs about the nature of the ADF'.
In this regard, Lt Gen Gillespie acknowledged that Defence could improve:
I do think sometimes that we do not explain ourselves well
enough. As an organisation, we are perhaps not as well understood by NGOs as we
should be. I think, and certainly from where I sit directing it, we reach out
regularly to try and do a better job.
The different views about the appropriate role of the military in
conducting humanitarian tasks pose another challenge for the civil–military
relationship, especially where the military's humanitarian activities may
create political complications for NGOs.
NGOs—independence and impartiality
Humanitarian agencies generally work on the basis of common humanitarian
principles: neutrality, impartiality and independence. Some NGOs expressed
concern about the military delivering humanitarian assistance and the effect
that may have on the perception of NGOs' neutrality. Representatives from Oxfam
Australia explained that NGOs could be put in a dangerous position if any
perception arose that they were aligned to a political or military entity. As
an example, the Australian Institute of International Affairs noted that in East
Timor some NGOs were reluctant to use the designated civil–military operations
centre because of its proximity to the INTERFET headquarters.
Oxfam argued that ADF involvement in humanitarian assistance can create
an impression that NGOs are in some way linked to military operations.
It drew attention to the UN's Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Humanitarian
Affairs' guidelines that state, 'it is important to maintain a clear separation
between the roles of the military and humanitarian actors, by distinguishing
their respective spheres of competence and responsibility'.
In this regard, Oxfam argued that the military are not humanitarian workers
and should not conduct humanitarian activities themselves, or be perceived to
It further asserted that the ADF should avoid 'humanitarian rhetoric' or
language in describing its operational capabilities because of the likely
consequences for humanitarian agencies.
Oxfam argued that the role of the military in peacekeeping operations is
We do not have any problem with the Australian military
distributing food or carrying out humanitarian operations in natural disasters
for instance. They are not complex emergencies; they are not politically
derived conflicts...It only becomes an issue where there is a conflict and there
are political agendas.
Defence had a different perspective:
...there are some NGO groups who, through upbringing and all the
rest of it, look upon the military with great suspicion: we are ‘warmongers’.
We actually see ourselves as humanitarians.
Dr Breen observed the humanitarian interest among ADF personnel and
commented that Australian peacekeepers have been disappointed when they have
not been able to be part of a team 'fixing up the circumstances of local people
who have had a tough time'. He said Australian peacekeepers 'wanted to respond
in a human way rather than just having their guns cocked ready to shoot'.
Despite different views on the appropriate role of the ADF in a
'humanitarian space', it is clear that the ADF has resources that are useful in
a humanitarian effort. Within Australia, the ADF is a unique organisation in
terms of its ability to access conflict areas with sufficient equipment and
personnel to provide an immediate humanitarian response. AusAID noted:
...the primary military role in peace operations is to establish
and maintain a secure environment in which development can take place. On those
occasions when the environment is too hostile for civilians to conduct
development activities it may be appropriate for military forces to undertake
focused reconstruction tasks in line with the national development strategy...
Medical Support Force in Rwanda (courtesy Australian War Memorial, negative number MSU/94/0048/28).
engineer from the 3 Combat Engineer Regiment, as part of Timor-Leste Battle
Group 3, helps build a playground for the children of the Hope Orphanage in
Gleno (image courtesy Department of Defence)
Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, from the RSL, suggested that the ADF is a
legitimate resource for the government to use:
...if there were a humanitarian need, it would be churlish of the
nation not to use its Defence Force to assist to the extent that it could and
would wish to do so. Terminology really is not the important thing if you are
looking at the needs of the person on the ground.
While some witnesses considered there were distinct roles for
humanitarian and military agencies in peacekeeping operations, others provided
a more nuanced perspective. The Australian Red Cross was of the view that there
is a need for recognition and respect for each other's different roles and
principles. Mr David Brown, Asia Manager, Australian Red Cross, said:
I think we would be disingenuous if we said that the military
does not, in many circumstances, have a role to play as humanitarian agents.
Conversely, there have been many examples of the military saving lives through
its humanitarian intervention. Where the military has not been deployed, in
some cases, it has also cost lives. So we do not want to say that we are
talking about the humanitarian workers over here and the military over there...
But we do have some very strong principles about neutrality and about
There are immense practical considerations in facilitating a
humanitarian response to conflict. Dr Breen noted that in hostile environments,
where the need is immediate and delivering aid and sustenance to people is
difficult, the military is inevitably the conduit.
He was of the view that it is not an aim of the military to subsume the role of
NGOs. In his experience, the ADF always steps aside to allow NGOs to do the job
'if they are up to it and they are prepared to deploy their people under the
same austere conditions under which the military work'.
Defence did not resile from the political basis of its operations. Both
Defence and RSL witnesses noted that the ADF does not undertake humanitarian
work voluntarily; its activities are a matter of government policy.
Even so, the committee notes the guidance offered in CMCoord which states that:
All non-security related tasks must be coordinated fully within
the mission, with the UN Country Team and with the larger
humanitarian/development community, depending on the context.
Again, the emphasis is on achieving an integrated mission where the
humanitarian activities of the military and civilian components are
Mr Shepherd, WVA, observed that the extent to which the military should
engage in humanitarian work is of long-standing debate, upon which there is
little agreement even within NGO circles. He acknowledged that tension is
created between the military and humanitarian workers: 'it will always remain
for us—how do we actually operate within that same space when we have quite
Clearly the complex foreign policy space in which peacekeeping
operations occur brings different pressures on the relationship between
humanitarian and security agencies. The committee recognises the critical role
of the ADF in creating a secure environment and the important work of
humanitarian agencies in providing assistance in contemporary peacekeeping
operations. Together the military and civilian agencies create the conditions
necessary for rebuilding a state.
In some instances, due to the level of security risk or the lack of
existing infrastructure, the military may be the only, or the most able,
organisation to provide humanitarian relief. The committee considers it
appropriate that the government use available resources, including the
military's material and logistical resources and the skills of its members
where required, to meet such need.
Nonetheless, it is clear that when engaged in humanitarian work, the ADF
needs to appreciate and respect the concerns of NGOs, especially the importance
they attach to neutrality and impartiality. On the other hand, NGOs need to
understand the reasons the military becomes involved in delivering humanitarian
aid. Mutual understanding and close liaison based on regular consultation,
joint planning and training would help the ADF and NGOs to resolve tensions. On
a practical level, these would also encourage a more economical, efficient and better-targeted
use of resources.
The different agencies that are involved in a peacekeeping operation
obtain their information about local conditions from various sources. For
example, NGOs can be well known in local communities and have a good
understanding of the local environment, social context and issues underpinning
conflict. Defence has formal intelligence-gathering infrastructure and
relationships as well as the networks it builds in local communities.
The information and insights that different organisations gather can be mutually
useful for all in achieving their aims, but information exchange is not
necessarily straightforward or appropriate. There are a number of constraints
in disseminating information.
A common theme in evidence from NGOs concerned the sensitivities
associated with information sharing. They explained that an organisation that
shares security-related information risks perceptions of partiality. Such
perceptions can be both inhibiting and dangerous for humanitarian agencies that
rely on their neutrality and independence.
Although recognising limitations, the Australian Red Cross submitted
that information exchange between humanitarian agencies and security forces can
...to ensure their neutrality (and their protection) one must distinguish
between information about the humanitarian situation on the ground, and
information about military/security issues in their area of operation. To provide
the former can assist in the provision of humanitarian assistance and decrease
tension, whereas to provide or be perceived as providing military/security
information may increase tensions and hamper access and security for humanitarian
It noted that such a distinction between types of information is not
always categorical and its personnel need to err on the side of neutrality and
impartiality. They should only share information that is 'useful to the
humanitarian situation—that is, the victims on the ground'.
For security and mission-specific reasons, Defence is also constrained
in the information it shares. Nonetheless, there remains much scope for the ADF
and NGOs to keep each other informed about matters relevant to the operation.
AusAID took the view that there will always be tensions with regard to
information sharing. It stated:
It is appropriate for NGOs to provide details on their
capabilities, infrastructure if any, plans, concerns, etc, and for the military
to provide information, as appropriate and consistent with their own force
protection, on their military goals and policies (including rules of
engagement), as well as information on military hazards to NGOs (e.g. known
minefields, unexploded ordinance), and information on civilian access to
military support (e.g. medical facilities).
Thus, for practical and safety reasons, there is a need for information
exchange. Oxfam, however, expressed concern about being able to obtain
necessary information from the military:
...timely information and clarity on mandates, rules of
engagement, division of roles and responsibilities and mission parameters have
in various cases been difficult to obtain. This information is necessary for
humanitarian organisations to assess programme viability and security
It was of the view that RAMSI had exposed the problems of lack of timely
and accurate information on the mission's mandate and operations.
The committee accepts that the exchange of information between the military
and other organisations at an operational level will inevitably be constrained
by factors such as mission requirements and each organisation's principles and
needs. However, there are clear benefits to, and in some cases compelling
reasons for, having well-established and effective communication networks
between the military and civilian sectors.
Having said that, the committee is of the view that NGOs need to
appreciate the critical work of military peacekeepers, who at times place
themselves in harm's way to secure a safe environment that then enables NGOs to
carry out their work. The committee understands the importance of neutrality
and impartiality to NGOs, but it also believes that they have a responsibility
that extends beyond looking after their own safety and those under their care
to include those who are protecting them. This responsibility should be a major
consideration when deciding whether or not to disclose information to the
AusAID noted that 'NGOs are structured relatively informally and value
diversity of commitment and input, while a military has the onerous
responsibility of the management of and (as required) application of lethal
Thus, unlike the military, the NGO community does not have a unified,
hierarchical command chain for passing on information. It is not a homogenous
body with common ideologies or perspectives. Dr Brett Parris, Senior Economic
Advisor, WVA, observed:
NGOs are constituted differently...There are also a range of views
among the NGO community on engagement with the military and police and that
just complicates some aspects in getting a single coherent NGO view on those
sorts of sensitive issues.
It was of the view that the flatter and fluid structure of humanitarian
organisations reflects their aim of including local people and communities in
the decisions that affect them. This structure means that decision making can
From Defence's perspective, the differences between NGOs, including in
their attitudes to the military, can make coordination challenging.
Lt Gen Gillespie observed that tensions on the ground usually relate to the
decision-making process within the NGO community. He noted that the ADF has a
unified command structure, giving it a clear path through to the appropriate
military commander to resolve issues during operations suggesting:
If the NGO organisations were to have a similar coordinating
mechanism then in my humble opinion a lot of that friction would go away.
Lt Gen Gillespie informed the committee that he 'would be delighted to
see an NGO coordinating body that we could work with in the places that we go
WVA acknowledged that the ADF's hierarchical structure, with clear
command and control lines, enables it to make decisions quickly. At the same
time, the military organisation can be difficult to relate to if there are no
clear access points. WVA noted the usefulness of having, within the military,
appropriate points of contact that understand both cultures and are 'better
able to facilitate dialogue'.
ACFID, the peak body for Australian NGOs, related a relevant experience from East
...We were advised directly by the CEOs of several agencies that
there was a real possibility of significant bloodshed. We were asked if we
could pass on this information. Regrettably, because we have not really been
able to establish a useful lower level connection to operations command to pass
information on, we ended up going through more political channels and passing
it up to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. That was probably not the
best way to do it, frankly...there could well be value in simply having a point
of connection where, if we do have what seems to be credible information from
serious people...we can contribute that...But, at the moment, we do not have that
Evidence to the committee suggested that NGO consultation with the ADF
is occurring on an ad hoc basis. The dialogue between the military and
NGOs in general stands to improve if both sectors could provide a central point
of contact through which this engagement can occur. The ADF should appreciate
that those outside the organisation do not have a clear understanding of how
they can gain access to relevant ADF personnel and should review its mechanisms
for information exchange. This observation also relates back to ADF CIMIC
capability and the need for it to have adequate numbers of appropriately
trained staff deployed with their peacekeeping contingents.
Despite difficulties in establishing clear communication networks, the
ADF and NGOs do converse during an operation. Both Defence and some NGOs
observed that coordination occurs at a practical level on the ground. Lt Gen
Gillespie was positive about the ability of the ADF and NGOs to resolve issues
in operational areas, stating 'I cannot think of any occasion in the last
decade where we have undertaken major security operations in a humanitarian
environment where we have arrived at an intractable problem between the NGO
community and ourselves'.
Oxfam representatives commented that NGOs and the military are always
negotiating and coordinating: the military and humanitarian coordinators meet
weekly or more often 'so that we can negotiate this space so that they can
protect us and civilians at the same time'.
Summary of impediments
The committee has identified a number of impediments to effective
coordination and cooperation between the military and civilian sector. They
- ADF's current limited CIMIC capability;
- the diverse and heterogeneous nature of NGOs;
- the different roles, functions and priorities of the two sectors,
especially during times of heightened conflict and violence, where they are
occupying the same space;
- misunderstandings about each other's roles and priorities;
- contested humanitarian space where the military may deliver
humanitarian services, and its influence on perceptions of NGO impartiality and
- sensitivities about sharing information; and
- command structures that create communication difficulties between
the military and NGOs.
Dr Breen was of the view that the approach of the security sector to
coordinating with other agencies is 'changing in a positive way', and observed
a 'very different mindset from some years ago'.
Consistent with this view, Lt Gen Gillespie commented that a 'huge amount of
work' has been done in the last three years by military and NGOs to improve
OCHA believes that training is a primary means for sharing lessons
learned about civil–military relations and building informal networks. The committee
now looks at the current measures taken by the ADF and NGOs to meet the
challenges to coordination and cooperation.
The ADF engages NGOs to deliver particular components of its
pre-deployment training, mainly relating to cultural awareness or human rights
and humanitarian law. For example, the Australian Red Cross noted that it both
participates in, and presents at, the ADF's International Peace Operations
Seminar (IPOS), CIMIC courses and the UN military observers course run by the ADF
Peacekeeping Centre (ADFPKC).
The Australian Red Cross also runs an ADF instructors course for interested ADF
members involved in training in the laws of armed conflict.
In 2006, AusAID appointed a Civilian–Military Liaison Officer within its
Humanitarian and Emergency Section to assess AusAID's involvement in ADF
training activities and to advise on further areas of engagement.
AusAID also held a Humanitarian Forum in 2006 with a particular focus on
civil–military relations, including how the shape of the initial crisis
response and the choice of instruments and approaches affect future
The Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (APCML), an initiative of the
ADF's Legal Branch and the University of Melbourne Law School, runs a week-long
CIMIC course. Its objective is to inform participants from both government and
non-government agencies on the planning factors that are crucial to the ADF's
conduct of CIMIC activities.
The course comprises topics such as the law of peace operations, military
operations law and civil–military cooperation in military operations.
Joint training exercises
Several government agencies and NGOs, including AusAID and WVA, attended
the Australian Command and Staff College Exercise Excalibur in 2006. Another
joint exercise, Exercise Talisman Sabre, was conducted in 2007.
The exercises focused on joint operational planning for a complex stability
operation, involving military planners, representatives of other government
agencies and NGOs working together.
WVA reported that Exercise Excalibur was 'a valuable experience, with numerous
lessons for our civil–military engagements'. It considered, however, that such
exercises could be made even more realistic if NGOs were engaged in the initial
WVA observed that taking these forums further into the future would depend on
dialogue with the ADF and other players.
Suggestions for strengthening CIMIC
A number of witnesses made suggestions for improving liaison between the
ADF and NGOs, including at the pre-deployment planning level. For example, Mr O'Callaghan
saw great benefit in the NGO sector being able to engage with the ADF in a
structured but informal setting such as a bi-annual roundtable. He preferred an
informal approach because 'it is more likely to be a productive exchange of
views if it is done in a way which enables the ideas to be tested out'.
This proposal had been put to Defence but Mr O'Callaghan indicated that Defence
considered it appropriate for AusAID to handle all policy dialogue with NGOs.
Austcare recommended that the Australian Government establish an
independent national institute as a 'centre of excellence' to undertake
necessary training and research on peacekeeping. According to Austcare, the
centre would give 'particular focus to strengthening civil–military relations'.
The committee notes a similar proposal by the Centre for International
Governance & Justice (CIGJ) for a centre of excellence for civilian
peacekeeping in Australia. CIGJ saw this centre as an opportunity for
Australian government agencies to provide more strategic support to NGOs by
offering 'specialised civilian peacekeeping training'.
Clearly such a centre would be an ideal vehicle for promoting the development
and strengthening of CIMIC.
Major General Smith referred to a proposal Austcare had put to ADF for
NGOs, ADF, AFP and AusAID to review jointly four case studies where the ADF and
NGOs have been in the same place at the same time: Afghanistan (a high threat
environment); Solomon Islands and East Timor (two not-so-high threat but
conflict related environments); and Aceh after the tsunami (a non-conflict
emergency). Major General Smith said no response had yet been given.
According to WVA, NGOs should also be actively seeking ways to improve
engagement with the ADF. It acknowledged that development and understanding of
CIMIC doctrine was not a one-way process, with the onus also on humanitarian
agencies to improve their understanding of CIMIC. In that regard, WVA had
employed a person to focus on civil–military relationships, including engaging
with peacekeepers, the AFP and international partners. It considered that
'there is no way that World Vision can have an understanding of civil–military
relations without that direct kind of engagement'.
Based on the evidence, the committee sees potential to improve CIMIC.
For example, it mentioned in Chapter 13 the informal Peace Operations Working
Group, chaired by DFAT, with members from Defence, AFP, AusAID and A-G's. The
group's focus is not on specific operational issues, but more thematic issues
around Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations. This existing forum
could be gainfully used to improve dialogue across the government and NGO
sectors, including between the ADF and NGOs.
The committee also recognises that joint training and education can help
establish common understandings and trust and provide opportunities for the
military and civilian sector to work through coordination problems. In this
way, CIMIC becomes not only a force multiplier but also an 'aid multiplier' by
improving the delivery of aid.
These proposals are worthy of serious consideration and illustrate the
need and the potential for the Australian Government, ADF, AusAID and NGOs to
During the inquiry, some witnesses referred to what they believed were
deficiencies in the ADF's CIMIC capability. A number of NGOs also called for
improved dialogue with the military, better understanding between the
organisations and closer involvement in the planning of peacekeeping
operations. They have made suggestions that would require Defence to strengthen
its engagement with NGOs, including through roundtables and case studies.
Communications and command structures could be improved, which would facilitate
better coordination. The committee also notes that NGOs could facilitate this
process through better organisation and liaison amongst themselves. The committee
notes ACFID's role as the peak body for humanitarian NGOs and sees capacity for
ACFID to form a better conduit between Defence and the NGO community.
The committee has recommended that Defence review its CIMIC doctrine and
consider ways to strengthen its CIMIC capability. It now builds on these
The committee recommends that AusAID, ACFID and Defence jointly review
the current pre-deployment education programs, exercises, courses and other
means used to prepare military and civilian personnel to work together in a
peacekeeping operation. The committee recommends further that based on their
findings, they collectively commit to a pre-deployment program that would
strengthen cooperation between them and assist in better planning and
coordinating their activities.
The committee sees merit in Austcare's proposal for four collaborative
case studies to identify ways to improve coordination between the security and
humanitarian elements of peacekeeping operations.
The committee recommends that Defence, AFP, AusAID and DFAT commission a
series of case studies of recent complex peacekeeping operations, as proposed
by Austcare, with the focus on the effectiveness of civil–military cooperation
and coordination. Their findings would be made public and discussed at the
Peace Operations Working Group mentioned in Recommendation 14.
To this stage of the report, the committee has mentioned a joint
training facility as a means of improving the effectiveness of Australian
peacekeepers and Australia's overall contribution to peacekeeping. Evidence in
this chapter adds weight to this case. Through training programs, seminars and workshops,
such a facility could draw together teachers, students, researchers and former,
current and future peacekeepers from government and non-government sectors. The
facility would enhance CIMIC and develop future forms of civil–military–police
coordination. It would also provide a site for empirical, evidence-based research
and the evaluation of past and current practice. It would operate at the policy
and operational levels, ensuring that Australia keeps abreast of new ideas and
approaches to peacekeeping. It would also be involved at the practical level by
assisting individual agencies prepare their personnel for deployment and foster
a whole-of-nation approach to peacekeeping. The proposal for a centre of
excellence is examined in greater detail in Chapter 25.
Today, the ADF shares peacekeeping space with many government and
non-government actors. For this reason, the committee feels that Australia
requires a more holistic approach to coordinating its peacekeeping efforts. It has
made a number of recommendations but they are by no means exhaustive. The
potential for improving CIMIC and, indeed, extending the CIMIC framework to
include all government agencies is great.
Partnerships—host and participating countries
To this stage of the report, the committee has been
concerned with the effectiveness of Australian peacekeepers from the individual
agency, whole-of-government and whole-of-nation perspective.
The committee now considers Australia's role as a
participant with other countries in a peacekeeping operation. It first explores
some of the challenges Australian peacekeepers face in establishing and
maintaining a constructive partnership with the host country. It is
particularly concerned with peacekeeping operations where Australia is taking
an active or lead role and bears a heavy responsibility for achieving a
well-coordinated, cohesive mission. According to United Nations Peacekeeping
Operations: Principles and Guidelines, an integrated mission is one where
A shared vision among all United Nations actors as to the
strategic objectives of the United Nations presence at the country-level. This
strategy should reflect a shared understanding of the operating environment and
agreement on how to maximise the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of the
United Nations overall response.
In subsequent chapters, the committee examines Australia's
relationship with its peacekeeping partners and the difficulties encountered in
achieving an 'integrated operation'.
The committee identifies the main factors that contribute to
effective coordination and cooperation between the partners in a peacekeeping
coalition and whether Australia could do more to enhance this relationship. In
this context, it considers the implications for the way Australia prepares its
peacekeepers for deployment. The committee also looks at how effectively Australia
engages with the peacekeeping aspects of the UN as the international body
charged with maintaining international peace and security and with regional
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