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Teaching Notes for Military Provision of Humanitarian and Civic Assistance: A Day in the Life of a Civil Affairs Team in the Horn of Africa, by Jessica Piombo.

This case study is designed as a retrospective study to encourage discussion about the ways that Civil Affairs teams operate; the logic and implications of how and where the U.S. military conducts strategically focused humanitarian assistance; and the impact of the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in the region. The case raises larger issues about civil-military coordination in stabilization and reconstruction activities as a secondary focus. It engages the student in an in-depth examination of the activities of one Civil Affairs team attached to the CJTF-HOA in 2007, operating in Lamu, Kenya, and how this team interacted with the headquarters of the CJTF-HOA that was located in Djibouti. From these perspectives, the case introduces the concept of the Civil Affairs team and how it operates, and uses the experience of this particular team to shed light on a large number of debates that surround military provision of humanitarian and civic assistance and the military’s increasing involvement in stabilization and reconstruction operations.

Presented in a narrative style that presents a stylized account of the team and the way that it operates, the case study periodically switches from the team’s perspective to the broader background of the CJTF-HOA and then back to the team and its supervising officers at the CJTF-HOA headquarters in Djibouti. In this way, the student is presented with the collective life experience of a typical Civil Affairs team, to use that experience to raise issues involved in the military provision of humanitarian and civic assistance, and to present some of the larger background that situates the activities of the team. The dialogue contained in this narrative is a near literal reproduction of what I was told as a researcher by the team members and the officials at the headquarters but also includes insights from similar visits in Ethiopia and Djibouti in 2007 and 2008.

The case study is appropriate for courses on stabilization and reconstruction activities, on the military’s involvement in humanitarian and civic assistance, and Africa-specific courses on the Horn of Africa and U.S. foreign policy in Africa.