Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Masters of Arts in History



Major Advisor

David M. Walker, Ph.D.


Raymond J. Krohn, Ph.D.


Michael Allen, Ph.D.


For nearly two centuries, United States (U.S.) political policy and non-government organizations (NGOs) had delivered foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) when and where needed. The logistical capability of the professional U.S. military has allowed it to become an enduring delivery method for FHA. Since the 2000s, Congress has actively shaped the Department of Defense’s (DoD) role in humanitarian operations through a wide variety of authorities contained in the Armed Services (Title 10 U.S. Code) and Foreign Relations and Intercourse (Title 22 U.S. Code) statutes, and through annual legislation. Each branch of the military has also developed more defined doctrines in response to this increasing role in FHA. The U.S. army has developed the Army’s Technique Publication 3-57.20 in order to prepare for an increased humanitarian role.

This thesis will challenge traditional notions of U.S. military FHA that places its origins either at the creation of the United Nations (UN) and the Truman Doctrine in the late 1940s, or at the Spanish-American War of 1898. That year, the American populace created a growing demand to right the wrongs committed by the seemingly inept and corrupt Spanish Empire. When action did finally come, the American people landed an army on the shores of a battered people. Incidentally, the United States did not land its troops on foreign soil in 1898 in the name of humanitarianism for the first time. No, decades of prior experience and custom fell alongside those troops. From aiding in the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade beginning in 1819 to providing order and medical attention to the people of Alexandria near the end of the century, the United States began a tradition of using its military for FHA that proves nearly as old as the nation itself.