The Military’s Role in Disaster Response

USAID responds to about 70 calls for assistance from countries hit by natural disasters or other situations where they need help. For approximately every tenth instance, the agency calls on the Defense Department. The military’s role when called includes airlift to and from a disaster zone and other help such as rescue and airfield controls, said Elizabeth Lukasavich, the civilian-military affairs coordinator with the military liaison team with USAID, at ASC15. In recent years, the Air Force’s role has been integral for large-scale responses, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, last year’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa, the 2011 tsunami in Japan and the response for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The military is a function of last resort, but is integral when the situation requires the specific assistance provided by air, Lukasavich said.