This edition of Professional Military Education (PME) dives into Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO). Take a read through this article which provides an insight into some of the key lessons learned from the Afghanistan NEO in August 2021. It presents six ideas that should aid in the planning and conduct of future NEOs. Also watch LT Burston NEO Platoon Commander interview to understand more about the Afghanistan NEO. Be prepared to discuss the ideas and explore your own thoughts on the conduct of NEOs in a group discussion.

Want More?

This detailed article from the National Defense University Press (US) takes a brief look through the history books of recent NEOs and delves into detail of how they are conducted. It argues that there should be a standing US Joint Support Element task-organised for NEOs to provide immediate capability during a contingency, and validates this argument with a number of case studies. This is a great document to give you a broader understanding of some of the complexities in planning and executing NEOs. It also gives a good understanding of some of the situations that can necessitate a NEO.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think are some of the most important aspects of conducting a NEO? What should you concentrate on the most?
  2. Do you think the Military Appreciation Process works for planning a NEO? If only partially, which are the most important parts? If not, what should we use instead?
  3. Which key stakeholders do you think should be included in NEO planning? Brainstorm a list.
  4. What kind of infrastructure do you need to consider when selecting evacuation centres?
  5. NEOs are often conducted in complex environments including war torn and/or third world nations. What do we need to consider when conducting NEOs in a contested environment or simultaneous to a combat operation?
  6. As a platoon sergeant or sergeant major, what sort of tasks would you undertake in support of a NEO?
  7. What do you need to consider when caring for evacuees? Brainstorm and make a list.
  8. What sort of supplies might you need to procure to run an evacuation centre? Brainstorm and make a list.
  9. What considerations need to be made in terms of medical and logistics support? What are you likely to need that may differ to a conventional warfighting operation?
  10. How important is interoperability between services for a NEO? How can Navy and Air Force support a NEO?
  11. How important are non-government agencies and other government agencies in conducting NEO? What capabilities can they offer?
  12. What do you think indicates mission success in a NEO?

Other Activities

If you enjoyed this activity, why not try the other PMEs available on The Cove?

Want more material? For JNCOs to conduct with their soldiers, here is a link to our Quick Military Education resources. For junior officers here is a link to our Junior Officer PME sessions.

Concluding Comments

If you have suggestions for improvements – additional readings or reference material, alternative discussion points, new delivery methods – or just wish to provide feedback, please contact the Cove Team via

Here are the Facilitator Notes for this PME.