SOLLIMS Sampler Special Edition, May 2017 - Page 24

JTF-Haiti's “Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center” was the key node for facilitating the coordination and collaboration between JTF-Haiti and its partners. This coordination center pulled together, and tracked, the efforts of JTF-Haiti, MINUSTAH forces, the UN humanitarian community, USAID, and numerous NGOs. This coordination center was manned by a 30 military personnel, including one general officer. This center, and the bulk of JTF-Haiti, operated on unclassified information systems and used commercially available programs/ tools to build a humanitarian assistance common operating picture – shared with all participants. On the information front, Facebook and Twitter were also used, not only to collect and disseminate information, but also to counter possible misinformation. JTF public affairs personnel used cameras on their cell phones to “Twitpic” key activities and then post them on Twitter and on JTF’s Facebook page. The JTF- Haiti’s Joint Information and Interagency Center also contributed to the JTF’s information management and communication efforts. One of the key products from this center was daily talking points – which provided the overall communica- tion goal, target audiences, themes, and top-line messages. Although the U.S. administration had issued guidance that the Haitian relief effort was to be a unified whole-of-government effort, with USAID as the federal lead agency, the roles, responsibilities, authorities, and required capabilities of USAID and other players were not clearly defined. There were no specifications on subordinate relationships or divisions of labor. USAID had too few personnel on the ground to form and lead the robust planning that was required early on, for a crisis of this size and scope. Therefore, JTF-Haiti provided a number of planners to USAID to assist on this complex initial planning effort. The close proximity of JTF-Haiti to the U.S. Embassy was a key factor for facilitating the desired whole-of-government response. The JTF established its headquarters next to the American embassy, which was also close to the MINUSTAH headquarters, and this physical co-location greatly simplified coordination, collaboration, and communication. Staff working relationships were quickly developed, and these relationships paid dividends throughout the operation. Additionally, liaison officers provided to/from JTF-Haiti also greatly benefited communication and unity of effort. Initially, the JTF commanders and staff did not fully appreciate the number of humanitarian organizations that had been in Haiti since before the earthquake. There had been over 1,000 NGOs working with the UN Office of Coordination and Humanitarian Assistance in Haiti. However, within the first couple weeks, the JTF worked closely with the UN (the UN Coordinating Support Committee in Haiti) to develop UN-approved coordination processes to fulfill perceived requirements – in which requirements were raised, validated, and passed to the appropriate organizations. The JTF additionally worked to coordinate require- ments and activities within the UN “cluster system” to ensure unity of effort. Table of Contents | Quick Look | Contact PKSOI Page 23 of 36