More than 100 personnel working on humanitarian issues throughout the U.S. European Command region gathered in Tirana, Albania, in early Febrary to discuss future projects under the Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) program.
Hosted by the Humanitarian Programs Branch of the USEUCOM Civil Military Operations Division, the workshop allowed DOD managers in 19 OHDACA funded beneficiary countries to develop projects for the next fiscal year and beyond.
“This forum offers a unique opportunity for the people running these important programs to exchange information, review real-world programs, and provide a common understanding of the project submission and execution processes,” said U.S. Army Col. Dennis Nutt, Chief of the USEUCOM Civil Partnership Division.
Administered through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, OHDACA funds are allocated to build the capacity of partner nation civilian and military institutions to provide essential services to civilian populations. DOD conducts Humanitarian Assistance (HA) to relieve or reduce endemic conditions such as human suffering, disease, hunger, privation, and the adverse effects of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO), particularly in regions where humanitarian needs may pose major challenges to stability, prosperity, and respect for universal human values.
The OHDACA appropriation funds DOD HA activities that build the capacity of a partner nation government to provide essential humanitarian services to the civilian population and supports PN efforts to reduce the risk of, prepare for, and respond to humanitarian disasters thereby reducing reliance on international disaster relief assistance.
Some recent examples of OHDACA-funded projects in the EUCOM region include a firehouse renovation in Armenia, medical equipment donations in Georgia, and the evacuation of Afghan citizens to temporary locations that began in 2021.
EUCOM’s last OHDACA workshop was held in 2020, just before the COVID pandemic shut down such gatherings. Some participants of this iteration were thankful for the return of the in-person workshop.
“Sure, you can send information back and forth by e-mail, but there are big advantages to meeting face-to-face,” said Artian Dautaj, a DOD HA program manager who works at the Office of Defense Cooperation in Albania. “In this forum, we learn from each other how to improve the program. The knowledge we take away is tactile because we can immediately put it use.”
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of more than 64,000 permanently assigned military personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and Partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.