Civilian humanitarian assistance organizations and military forces are working in a similar direction in many humanitarian operations around the world. However, tensions exist over the role of the military in such operations. The purpose of this article is to review cultural perspectives of civilian and military actors and to discuss recent developments in civil-military humanitarian collaboration in the provision of health services in Iraq for guiding such collaborative efforts in postconflict and other settings in future. Optimal collaborative efforts are most likely to be achieved through the following tenets: defining appropriate roles for military forces at the beginning of humanitarian operations (optimally the provision of transportation, logistical coordination, and security), promoting development of ongoing relationships between civilian and military agencies, establishment of humanitarian aid training programs for Department of Defense personnel, and the need for the military to develop and use quantitative aid impact indicators for assuring quality and effectiveness of humanitarian aid.
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