In the majority of relief operations which take place around the world following major natural disasters, the military are the first “on-scene” responders, and it must be recognised that they are a potent force against any disaster. Relief operations by the military forces are expected to be performed with sound planning, reliable efficiency, and watertight effectiveness. A military force, especially one that is highly mobile and responsive, can provide the much needed first level of Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR). Given its mobility in an austere environment, and its logistics capacity, the military should consider HADR as one of its core competencies and expand its HADR capabilities. Some examples of the role played by foreign military assets in several major disasters relief operations are: 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 Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
This seminar will address how military assets play an imperative role in carrying out relief missions. They have large numbers of disciplined personnel with relevant skills, including logisticians, engineers, communications specialists and medical staff, who are trained to operate in unconventional and often dangerous environments. Furthermore, their ability to transport or deliver personnel and supplies by air, land or water, even to places where infrastructure is inadequate or destroyed, surpasses civilian capabilities. However, large and complex operations these days are always combined operations where multiple actors like NGOs, CSOs, the media, and others all play a critical role. It is therefore important for the military to adapt to this new operational environment and find the right interface for maximum output.
About the Speaker:
Major General Muniruzzaman (Retd) is a Visiting Senior Fellow with the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and is the President and CEO of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS), a leading think tank in Bangladesh. He also headed the government think tank under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bangladesh International Institute of Strategic Studies (BIISS). He has a background in the military and retired as a Major General in 2007. He has peacekeeping experience and was Chief of the post-election UN Mission in Cambodia. He has also been the Military Secretary to the President of Bangladesh. During his career in active duty with the army, he had command experience of artillery and infantry brigades. He also commanded an infantry division. He has been on the faculty of the Command and Staff College and the National Defense College.
Major General Muniruzzaman is the current Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC), an international expert body that works exclusively on the security dimensions of climate change. In that capacity, he gave the call to world leaders on the urgency of climate security challenges at the COP 21 in Paris last year. He has extensive engagements on the issues of climate security. During his tenure in the military, Major General Muniruzzaman has been actively involved in a number of Disaster Management Operations in Bangladesh. As the president of BIPSS and as member of NTS-Asia, he has continued to focus on HADR issues.
General Muniruzzaman has a wide training and educational background. He is a graduate of the National University of Bangladesh, National Defence College and Armed Forces Staff College of Malaysia. He is also an alumni of the International Legal Studies Institute at the US Naval War College, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Asia Pacific College of Security Studies (APCSS) in Hawaii, USA, and the NESA Centre at the US Defence University. He has been a visiting Senior Fellow at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway, and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of National Security (INS), Sri Lanka. In 2014 he was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award by APCSS for his distinguished work.