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Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief 2023
course masthead - HADR 2023


Much of the Western Hemisphere lies within an area that is prone to natural disasters. The Pacific nations, for example, lie on the "ring of fire," a massive chain of volcanoes and seismic fault lines that circle the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean and Central American nations are frequently in the path of Atlantic hurricanes. Global climate change can have a variety of environmental impacts from water scarcity, to rising sea levels, to droughts that devastate crops, to forest fires. In response to these natural disasters, every country in the region places Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) as one of its top priorities.

The goal of the HA/DR course is to educate decision-makers from the region who work closely on HA/DR programs in their country as well as to improve the capacity of US and partner nation forces to respond to humanitarian crises and disasters.

Course participants will hear from representatives from regional HA/DR organizations as well as a number of national representatives with important HA/DR responsibilities within their governments. The course is not US-focused; however, US programs will be examined specifically regarding the US Agency for International Development / Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), lead federal coordinator for international disaster assistance, as well as the United States Southern Command’s response mechanisms in support of BHA.

The HA/DR course supports current OSD Regional Center Policy priorities directed by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities (ASD-SPC), including:

  1. Support Defense Institution Building
  2. Facilitate Dialogue and Encourage Defense Cooperation with the United States
  3. Conduct Strategic Outreach



Application Period:
09 Jan 2023 -
10 Apr 2023
Virtual Active Phase:
19 Jun 2023 -
23 Jun 2023


The HA/DR course supports the Regional Center goal of enhanced security communities which increase security through mutual understanding and collective or collaborative action. Specifically, this course is designed to provide opportunities to participants to:

  • Identify measures to improve the nation’s abilities to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
  • Analyze and compare the nature and the scope of different perspectives on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) including response to natural disasters, defense support of civilian authorities, preservation of critical infrastructure, interagency coordination, and continuity of operations for the government.
  • Analyze risks associated with natural and man-made threats in terms of preparation, mitigation of risk, and response.
  • Examine ways to increase regional cooperation to respond to natural and man-made threats throughout the Western Hemisphere.
  • Understand how interagency coordination and whole-of-government efforts optimize a government’s response to humanitarian crises and natural- or manmade disasters.
  • Assess the relevance and identify means for improving defense support to civil authorities.
  • Understand the role and contributions made by international and regional organizations that respond to natural and man-made crises.


HA/DR is a fully virtual, two-week course


Ideally, participants in the course are those who have duties associated with HADR in their country. This may include positions in the national disaster response agency, the civil defense force, search and rescue organizations, and military units specifically tasked to respond to HADR crises. Participants who can speak directly of HADR experience and policy boost the value of the discussion.

Candidates must possess a university degree or, in cases where a candidate does not hold a degree, equivalent practical experience. Military and police personnel must have completed a command and staff course or equivalent. Exceptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

This course is conducted in English. Fluency in English is required for reading theoretical and conceptual materials and for conducting group discussions. Candidates who do not speak English as their native language will be interviewed prior to final selection.