The Asia-Pacific region is considered the most disaster-prone region in the world. It is assessed that between 2000-2009, 83% of global deaths from natural disasters were in the Asia-Pacific. In addition to the region’s geographic vulnerability to natural disasters, the rise of mega cities, overpopulation and climate change has increased the potential impact of natural disasters should they occur in the region.

As a country in the Asia-Pacific Region, Australia will likely provide some form of immediate logistic support when a natural disaster strikes. Examples in the last 15 years have included Operation Niue Assist (2004), Vanuatu Assist (2004), Sumatra Assist (2004-05) and Thai Assist (2004-06).

Several enduring characteristics in an Australian Defence Force (ADF) response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations include:

  • Immediate logistics demands usually include medical supplies, emergency shelter, clean water and power generation
  • The ADF will provide a joint logistic response
  • Logistic support requires cooperation with non government organisations (NGO) and/or other government agencies (OGA)
  • The requirement for logistics staff to work in an environment characterised by death and destruction.

The aim of this package is to review recent HADR Operations and identify the logistics lessons learnt. As the Asia-Pacific region transitions into the cyclone season it is important to review past operations as an augmentation to unit HADR training, thereby enabling logistic staff to be prepared and conditioned for likely tasks and responsibilities.


  1. Seipel, Jersey & Heaslip, Graham. 2018. ‘Chapter 12: The impossible interface? Combining humanitarian logistics and military supply chain capabilities’, Humanitarian Logistics 2nd Edition, Kogan Page LTD, London.
  2. Bullard, Steven. 2017. ‘Chapter 18: “The worst in living memory”: Operation Niue Assist and disasters in the pacific 1998-2004’, In their Time of Need, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom.
  3. Bullard, Steven. 2017. ‘Chapter 20: The road to Banda Aceh, ADF planning, deployment and airlift mission’, In their Time of Need, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom.
  4. Darbyshire, Sean. 2005. ‘Operation Sumatra Assist – Logistic Support at the sharp end in Banda Aceh’, Army Ordnance, June 2005.
  5. Australian Army. 2011. Natural Disasters Relief Handbook, Centre for Army Lessons
  6. McCormack, Tony. 2014. Air Power in Disaster Relief – The Role of the Royal Australian Air Force in Australia’s response to the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, Department of Defence.

Additional Readings 

  1. Pettit, Steven, Beresford, Anthony, Whiting, Michael, Banomyong, Ruth & Beresford, Sylvie. 2018. ‘Chapter 09: The 2004 Thailand tsunami and the 2012 tsunami warning were lessons learned?’, Humanitarian Logistics 2nd Edition, Kogan Page Ltd, London.
  2. Fetchik, Janine. 2012. ‘Left and right of arc: the legal position of the Australian Defence Force in domestic disaster response using the 2009 “Black Saturday” Victorian bushfires as a Case Study’, The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Volume 27, No. 2, April 2012.
  3. Australian Civil-Military Centre. 2012. ‘Same Space – Different Mandates A Civil-Military guide to Australian Stakeholders om International Disaster and Conflict Response’, Australian Government.
  4. Land Forces. 2013. ‘Training for Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief Operations’, ADJ’s Training and Simulation, Vol. 6, issue 3, July-September 2013.

Possible points for discussion

  • What are the logistic planning considerations for operating in a HADR environment, specifically within the Asia-Pacific Region?
  • How can logistic support staff prepare for confronting mass death and destruction to enable them to operate effectively once deployed? Should 17 Combat Service Support (CSS) Bde and the Ready CSS Team have mandatory resilience training?
  • HADR Operations often require an immediate joint response. Given this, how can Army Logistic Commanders and their staff train for joint HADR operations?
  • Reading 2 discusses the issues of recalling and preparing staff who were on leave with families when the Boxing Day Tsunami occurred. Noting the cyclone season coincides with the ADF Christmas RTP, does the ADF have the most effective control measures in place to have staff available to immediately plan and prepare logistic support in response to a disaster? How could you improve this within your unit/sub-unit?
  • How can the ADF foster interagency logistic cooperation with NGOs during HADR operations? For example, is it possible to leverage of their supply chain systems? Should we offer up our supply chain for NGOs? How would we prioritise?
  • Review Table 20.1 and Chart 20.1 in Reading 3. What were the pros and cons of combined joint task force (CJTF) 629’s C2 structure? How else could the C2 have been structured?

Note: Click here for a printable PDF version of this PME package.