Many people in the UK and worldwide has criticised the British government (the Coalition government) for cutting the British military expenditure, personnel and hardware, while “ringfencing” the ODA budget (DFID administrative costs have been cut). Now, with the dreadful news of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction, most people on twitter, and facebook, to a lesser degree, are cheering on the military’s effort in “Operation Patwin”, Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief response. Here are some of the links available on the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force website:
(Even the Military Stabilisation and Support Group (MSSG) has been deployed there–one individual as well as the Commander Joint Logistics, Permanent Joint Forces Headquarters is there.
Thus it shows that military cuts do not affect the UK military’s ability to respond to disasters. Second, it shows how foresight and planning is crucial: HMS Daring was deployed to the region several months ago. (This mind you, was a significant move since the Royal Navy has been practically absent from the Pacific since 2003. Also, Daring’s deployment shows that RN policy makers are better off that the illogical SRN website–won’t tell you want that stands for).
Third, it shows want cross-departmental work means. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) could not have responded effectively without the Royal Navy and Royal Air Forces’ units. Neither could the RN or RAF correctly address the issue without the advice and possibly leadership of DFID, Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) officials, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) members there. I have of course, held the belief that development officials should be the key leaders/coordinators in a disaster relief zone, not the military. It is yet to be seen who exactly is the overall leader in the Philippines: Which UN agency? Which military force–US, UK ASEAN? Which development agency or NGO? After all,CGD has been calling on aid donors to remember the failures of Haiti and a similar call from ODI experts.
Fourth, back to the military part and just a bit. This shows how neither the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force can act alone. Both are needed in such HADR operations. Unlike the “disband the RAF” idiots from the SRN website, I see both the strategic airlift flights (C-17 and C-130 see this) and the two RN ships as work as a partnership and not a competition with each other. Only idiots like the SRN website, and to a lesser degree, the Phoenix Think Thank would argue the Senior Service is better off in HADR. All nonsense.