The military sector is at least as diverse as the humanitarian sector: it divides into Pre- Modern (poor nation), Modern (including India/Pakistan), Post-Modern (US, UK, France).  Watershed-moment transformation has begun in the ‘top of class’ Post-Modern militaries and the knock-on effects will be profound.  UK Army Chief, General Sir David Richards describes this as another ‘horse and tank’ time of significant change.

So what is changing? Military versus military kinetic-heavy warfare (expensive high-tech systems) is giving way to ‘smarter’ less kinetic focussed application of military force and non-violent activity in response to much broader 21st century security challenges.  Winning the support of the ‘People’ is the core of military transformation (Rupert Smith’s War of the People, and in Afghanistan, General McCrystal’s new ‘people first’ strategy).

So What for the Humanitarian Sector?  Civilian-military collaboration will become even more important as both will increasingly work together in an ever broader and more complex mix of operations. Tracking military intellectual, doctrine, and organisational changes will help the humanitarian sector prepare for the next joint operations. Other military developments, including in strategic leadership, and much enhanced efforts in situational awareness, innovation, and networking will have relevance too.  Civilian/Humanitarian-military differences and, at times, tensions will inevitably continue, but the humanitarian organisations that are prepared to engage more closely with the military and learn appropriate lessons from military experience will likely benefit over others who maintain their distance.

A big issue question. The increasing scale and complexity of disasters may require new ‘in-extremis’ command and control arrangements.  Coping with a major natural disaster in a state that no longer governs as such could require temporary military command and control of even humanitarian organisations. Should we not begin to debate this now?