Updated: 16-Apr-2007 Standing Operationg Procedures

Standing Operating Procedures for the
Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit

Table of Contents:
  1. Deployment
  2. Withdrawal
  3. After Withdrawal
  4. Annexes

1. Introduction

1.1. On 29 May 1998, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Ministers endorsed the EAPC Policy on "Enhanced Practical Cooperation in the Field of International Disaster Relief". In doing so, Ministers agreed:

1.1.1. To establish at NATO Headquarters, within the Alliance's Civil Emergency Planning Directorate (CEPD), a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC); and

1.1.2. To activate where appropriate in the event of an emergency in an EAPC member country, a non-standing Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit (EADRU), comprising a mix of national elements provided by EAPC Members.

1.2. Following the inauguration of the EADRCC on 3 June 1998, "Standing Operating Procedures (SOP's) for the EADRCC" were developed, building upon existing amplifying instructions, which were originally designed to support the "NATO Policy on Cooperation for Disaster Assistance in Peacetime".

1.3. In order to facilitate the identification by nations of national elements available to the EADRU, these SOP's also contain detailed descriptions of disaster response capabilities, which might be needed by donor countries providing international disaster assistance.

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2. The Principles of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit

2.1. In accordance with the EAPC basic document:

2.1.1. The EADRU will be a non-standing, multi-national mix of national civil and military elements (qualified personnel of rescue, medical and other units; equipment and materials; assets and transport);

2.1.2. Which will have been volunteered by EAPC countries; and

2.1.3. Acting in cooperation with the United Nations and other international organisations in disaster response.

2.2. The composition and the size of this multinational EADRU will be determined by the requirements based on an assessment of each particular disaster.

2.3. A national element of the EADRU is a national disaster response capability, for which a nation has indicated in advance the potential availability as well as the conditions for their use.

2.4. In accordance with the basic document, the EADRU will be considered to have been activated whenever one or more EAPC member countries deploy capabilities in response to the initiative of the EADRCC.

2.5. National elements of the EADRU will remain under their respective national control while deployed in the stricken country as an asset of the Local Emergency Management Authority (LEMA). The LEMA however will be in overall control of operations in the stricken area(s).

2.6. Although the EAPC policy describes in some detail the procedures for the EADRU, more detailed procedures will be required before the EADRU can be activated. The present document outlines these procedures for the utilisation of the EADRU.

2.7. As the United Nations (UN) retain the primary rôle in coordinating international disaster relief, and the EADRU in accordance with the policy document in cooperation with the UN, the proposed procedures for the EADRU build also upon the "Oslo Guidelines", prepared by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), formerly known as the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA). These guidelines contain general principles for the utilisation of Military and Civil Defence Assets (MCDA) in disaster relief situations.

2.8. In accordance with these ''Oslo Guidelines'', national elements of the EADRU deployed on disaster relief missions will, in principle, be unarmed and wear their respective national uniforms. However, in exceptional circumstances, the internal situation in the stricken nation(s) may require personnel to carry weapons for their own protection (self-defence). This aspect will need to be discussed between the stricken nation and the nation(s) providing national elements, before any deployment.

2.9. National elements of the EADRU should be identifiable by operating under a common "EAPC-flag", and therefore all participants will have to wear an armlet with a common emblem (to be defined).

2.10. In these procedures for the EADRU, the following phases will be addressed:

  • The Preparedness Phase;
  • The Emergency Phase;
    • The Request for Assistance;
    • The Disaster Assessment;
    • The Preparation for the Deployment;
    • Coordination in the Stricken Nation
    • Border Crossing
    • Coordination of the Movement
  • The Deployment;
    • Execution of the Movement of the national element
    • During the Execution of the Mission
  • The Withdrawal
    • Preparation for Withdrawal
    • During the Movement of the national element; and
  • After Withdrawal

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3. Preparedness Phase

3.1. When a nation stricken by a major natural or technological disaster appeals for international assistance, the assistance provided by other nations should:

3.1.1. Comply with the requirements of the requesting nation(s); and

3.1.2. Be delivered as rapidly as possible, to the area designated by that nation.

3.2. This implies an advanced degree of pre-planning to facilitate the intervention of national elements of the EADRU in case of disaster in an EAPC nation. Valuable time can be gained by:

3.2.1. Having identified Initial Points of Contact (IPOC) in case of disaster assistance, in each of the EAPC countries, which should be updated on a regular basis;

3.2.2. Maintenance by the EADRCC of databases on: The availability to the EADRU of National elements volunteered by EAPC nations; The potential availability of national experts and their respective fields of expertise, which nations are willing to provide as reinforcement for the EADRCC, or deployment to the stricken EAPC nations; and National risk assessments.

3.2.3. Simplifying border-crossing procedures.

3.3. While Annex 1 offers a schematic rendering of this phase, the details of these important points are outlined below:

3.3.1. IPOC's in case of disaster assistance have been designated in each EAPC nation. In accordance with the its SOP's, the EADRCC will update the list of IPOC's on a regular basis. This IPOC can be different from the operational POC designated by the stricken nation in its request;

3.3.2. In accordance with the EAPC Policy, the EADRCC will maintain an inventory of the national civil and military elements identified by EAPC members as potentially available to the EADRU. This inventory will include the conditions for their utilisation. Annex 7 provides a listing of the information to be maintained in the EADRU database. For the description of the disaster response capabilities available, the EADRCC will use the standard formats provided for in the SOP's for the EADRCC; and

3.3.3. In the exceptional case that no UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team is deployed to assess both the situation in, and the requirements of, the stricken nation(s), the EADRCC may organise an assessment team on its own, supported by national experts. In order to facilitate the identification of national experts to participate in such an assessment, the EADRCC will maintain a database on expertise available.

3.4. One of the daily functions of the EADRCC, is to facilitate the rapid deployment of the EADRU in an actual disaster, taking into account existing bilateral and/or multilateral arrangements (this could include issues such as visas, border crossing, transit agreements, custom clearances, status of personnel, etc.).

3.5. Even under normal circumstances, crossing borders may involve a time consuming process. In case of a disaster, assistance must reach the affected area(s) rapidly and unhampered even via third countries if necessary. In order to do so, border-crossing procedures must be simplified to the greatest extent possible even to the point of being waived entirely.

3.6. For military components of a national element of the EADRU, deployment could be facilitated, by using either the NATO SOFA (1) or the PfP SOFA (2). However, for civilian components of a national element of the EADRU, such arrangements do not exist. This implies that two different procedures may need to be used for similar national elements of the EADRU dependent on the status of personnel (and the civil and military accompanying material). It would be advantageous, if one single agreement could cover the two components of a national element of the EADRU.

3.7. Lacking one single arrangement, the most expeditious way to conclude facilitation agreements that would permit the ease of crossing borders in case of a disaster would be through pre-agreed agreements among all EAPC nations. However, one must keep in mind that, due to the complexities (legal, diplomatic, political, etc.) involved in negotiating such agreements, steps must be taken well in advance of any disaster.

3.8. Until there are cross-border arrangements, an interim procedure in simplifying border crossings would be to utilise the standardised forms included in this document, which spell out in detail, the basic information that would normally be considered adequate to allow crossing the borders of the nations concerned.

3.9. Annex 3 outlines the different proposed forms covering:

3.9.1. Personnel: surname, first name, national ID-card number; the identification of any personal weapon (if applicable - see Paragraph 2.8), etc.;

3.9.2. Vehicles and machines: description, identification number, dimensions and weight, etc. of all involved;

3.9.3. Communication equipment, camp building materials: description, identification serial number, etc.;

3.9.4. Dangerous goods: description, quantity, packing, etc. (for the sake of harmonisation, use internationally accepted publications. Refer to the list on the appropriate form at Annex 3);

3.9.5. Foodstuffs, spare parts, drugs, medical equipment, all other accompanying goods: description; and

3.9.6. Miscellaneous items: description (i.e. animals such as search dogs, etc.).

3.10. Time can also be gained if personnel involved in staff work are familiar with the procedures of the EADRCC and the EADRU. Such personnel must be trained and constantly updated. The surest way to accomplish this is to have them participate in joint exercises.

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4. The Emergency Phase

4.1. The emergency phase in international disaster relief starts when a stricken EAPC country requests for assistance. This phase can be divided into five sub-phases:

  • The request for assistance;
  • The disaster assessment;
  • The preparation for the deployment;
  • The actual deployment; and
  • The withdrawal.

4.2. Each of these sub-phases is outlined below. Annex 2 offers a schematic rendition of the content of the emergency phase.

The Request for Assistance

4.3. A stricken EAPC nation should send its requests and details on its operational POC to the EADRCC, in accordance with the SOP's for the EADRCC.

4.4. Following the receipt of a request for assistance, the EADRCC will consult with UNOCHA regarding the action to be taken by the EADRCC, including the possibility for EADRCC participation in a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team

4.5. As a next step, in accordance with the agreed procedures, the EADRCC will relay the request to all capitals.

The Disaster Assessment

4.6. In accordance with the "EAPC Policy on Enhanced Practical Cooperation in the Field of International Disaster Relief", an international assessment of each particular disaster will be required to determine the composition and size of the EADRU.

4.7. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team will normally make such a disaster assessment. Exceptionally, when no UNDAC Team will be deployed, the EADRCC might conduct its own disaster assessment; all necessary arrangements for the conduct of an EADRCC Disaster Assessment will then be made, and EAPC nations will be invited to participate, with UNDAC qualified personnel, as part of such a team.

4.8. After the completion of the assessment (normally within 24 to 48 hours), it will be communicated to the EAPC Capitals by the EADRCC, accompanied by a report identifying the national elements that might be required. A request for deployment of national elements will also be transmitted by the EADRCC to those nations that have indicated in advance to the EADRCC that they are willing to volunteer the identified national elements.

4.9. EAPC nations will respond to any request as rapidly as possible and will relay their response(s) to the EADRCC. From this point, the nations who will contribute can proceed with the following sub-phase, namely ''Preparation for the Deployment''.

Preparation for the Deployment

Coordination by the EADRCC

4.10. The EADRCC will coordinate the different offers from EAPC nations and will relay such offers to the stricken nation, with an information copy to UNOCHA.

4.11. In addition, the EADRCC will relay to the operational POC in the stricken nation all the information concerning the means of communication (frequencies, technical details, etc.) to be used by the sending nation(s) to allow for an early coordination of efforts between the parties involved. Accuracy of such information is vital to the success of any relief mission (3).

4.12. Using the information contained in its databases, the EADRCC can clarify in advance if the sending nation has sufficient and appropriate assets to transport its national element of the EADRU.

4.13. In certain situations, however, sending nations may require transport assets on an ad-hoc basis. Should that be the case, they will so inform the EADRCC who in turn, and in accordance with its SOP's, will request EAPC nations to assist in making such assets available.

Coordination in the Stricken Nation

4.14. Upon receipt of offers of assistance, the stricken nation will evaluate them and inform (with information copy to the EADRCC) the potential sending EAPC nation(s) of its acceptance and of intended places of utilisation.

4.15. If no bilateral or multilateral agreements exist between the parties involved, an agreement covering the status of the national elements of the EADRU operating on the territory of the stricken nation(s) should be concluded between the sending and receiving nation.

4.16. A model agreement, which could be utilised by nations, is provided in Annex 4. This model agreement covers also the use of communication means. It is based on a model proposed in the ''Oslo Guidelines".

4.17. Each national element of the EADRU will arrange to liaise with the LEMA in the affected country.

4.18. In case of major disaster(s), the coordination capacity of the stricken nation may need to be reinforced. This can be achieved by either the utilisation of a United Nations On Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC), or deployment of an additional Headquarters Staff Support national element. When required, a formal request for such a national element will be promulgated by the EADRCC to those EAPC nations who have indicated they are potentially prepared to make such capability available. In accordance with the EAPC policy, the EADRCC will assist the LEMA in coordinating the activities of the various national elements. In case of a major disaster, the Director, Civil Emergency Planning, as head of the EADRCC, may find it appropriate to dispatch an EADRCC liaison officer to the LEMA concerned.
Border Crossing

4.19. If border-crossing arrangements have previously been concluded between EAPC nations (including those which may serve for purposes of transit), they will automatically be implemented when required.

4.20. Where no such arrangements exist, and when time is of the essence, the EAPC nations involved may consider a simplification or relaxation of the rules and regulations in force, to permit the requested required constituent elements of assistance to reach their intended destination as rapidly as possible.

4.21. Simultaneously, the EAPC nations providing elements to the EADRU will transmit to the stricken and to the transit nation(s), with an information copy to the EADRCC, manifests listing in detail and in sequential order of movement what is be dispatched to the stricken nation(s), using the standardised forms as per Annex 3. (See Paragraph 5 hereafter for the phases.)

4.22. Likewise, the stricken EAPC nation(s) will inform the EAPC sending nation(s) (with copy to the EADRCC), details concerning :

  • Border Crossing Points (BCP);
  • Seaport(s), Airport(s), Bus/Truck and Railroad Terminal(s) of disembarkation (if applicable);
  • Roads to be used; etc.

Coordination of the movement

4.23. After having selected the best mode(s) of transport, the EAPC sending nation(s), if it has the option to do so, will recommend to the stricken nation(s) (with copy to the transit nation(s) and the EADRCC) itineraries, border crossing and disembarking points unless these are strictly imposed by the stricken and/or transit nation(s). In the latter case, all concerned will then adhere strictly with the instructions issued by such nation(s).

4.24. The stricken nation(s) should inform the sending nation(s) (with information copy to the EADRCC) of the earliest date and time it is able to accept the various national elements of the EADRU at various destinations.

4.25. As national elements of the EADRU will remain under their respective national control, the good execution of their respective movements will obviously remain under that control as well. Therefor, each sending nation will coordinate any movement with the LEMA of the receiving nation(s) and with the transit nation(s) (if any will be involved).

4.26. Once coordinated, each sending nation will inform the EADRCC of the planned movement of each constituent unit (see Paragraph 5 hereafter) of its national element of the EADRU, as follows, expressed in GMT terms :

  • The estimated date/time of departure (ETD) from home base;
  • The estimated date/time of arrival (ETA) at the agreed border crossing point(s), if any;
  • The ETA at agreed point(s) of disembarkation/unloading; and
  • Any other information which may be relevant.

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5. Deployment

5.1. The actual deployment of the national element starts with the departure from their home base and ends at the point(s) where they are to intervene. According to their importance, these elements could be deployed in one or several sequential phases as follows :

5.1.1. Phase 1 - Reconnaissance, when necessary to evaluate how in practice these elements will be deployed in the field;

5.1.2. Phase 2 - Advanced party, to set up a Field Command Post capable to finalise preparations for the arrival of the main body of the national element;

5.1.3. Phase 3 - Initial support unit, to prepare housing and related support facilities ahead of the arrival at destination of the main body of the national element;

5.1.4. Phase 4 - Main body of the national element; and

5.1.5. Phase 5 - Follow up force, as reinforcement for example to the elements already deployed.

5.2. In some cases however, according to circumstances, several phases can be combined into one.

Execution of the movement of the national element

5.3. Each sending nation will inform the LEMA at destination in the requesting nation (with information copy to the EADRCC) of the actual date/time of departure (ATD) of each unit of its national element of the EADRU.

5.4. If crossing borders is involved, each sending nation will, as far as possible, inform the LEMA at destination (with copy for information to the EADRCC) and in GMT terms, of the estimated date/time of arrival (ETA) at the border crossing point(s) of each individual unit (or of all units if in one group) of its national element of the EADRU, and of problems anticipated or actually encountered en route.

5.5. If during the preparation of the deployment phase, sending, transit and stricken nations have mutually agreed to previously simplify or waive border-crossing procedures, then no time should be wasted in proceeding to destination(s). In such circumstances, each unit will at border crossing point(s) present to border officials their mission order and the various completed forms previously agreed upon by all parties.

5.6. It is strongly recommended that the stricken nation(s) provide a liaison officer to meet and accompany the incoming relief forces from the moment they enter the stricken nation(s) until they reach their designated destination(s).

5.7. The ETA (in GMT terms) at their designated point of disembarkation of each or of all units in one group of the national elements of the EADRU, as well as their ETA on disaster site(s) and their estimated time to commence relief operations, will be communicated by the national element of the EADRU to the LEMA (via its liaison officer) and to the EADRCC (for information). Thus will be done by the fastest means possible/available.

5.8. A daily general situation report, in accordance with the format provided for in its SOP's will be prepared by the EADRCC and transmitted to all EAPC nations.

During the execution of the mission

5.9. As the LEMA in the stricken nation(s) will be the tasking authority, the relations between the LEMA and the national elements of the EADRU will be maintained by a liaison officer selected from the ranks of those national elements of the EADRU.

5.10. In a major disaster, the coordinating capabilities of the LEMA may be reinforced with an OSOCC. The major task of such an OSOCC is to coordinate, during the first relief phase of an emergency; the international assistance provided by all major relief providers. It will work closely with the LEMA. An OSOCC will finish its activities, when the national structures can cope with the coordination of international resources, or when the international relief resources have been withdrawn.

5.11. The liaison officers provided by the various national elements of the EADRU in principle will be collocated with the LEMA and/or OSOCC. When during a major disaster, the EADRCC also sends a liaison officer to the LEMA; this EADRCC representative will assist the LEMA in the coordination along with the liaison officers of the various national elements.

5.12. The main tasks of the liaison officers are:

5.12.1. To inform the LEMA and the OSOCC of all activities undertaken during the operations conducted by a national element (progress in the relief operations, problems encountered, solutions for the problems, assistance needed, etc.); and

5.12.2. To transmit to the national element all useful information and/or instructions available in the LEMA and/or OSCOCC.

5.13. Each national element of the EADRU will prepare a daily report and transmit this to the EADRCC via the appropriate communications channels. Such reports will be numbered in sequence.

5.14. Reports will cover events having taken place during a 24-hour-period (0000Z through 2359Z), and should reach the EADRCC not later than 0800Z on the following morning. Their basic minimum contents will be headed as follows:

5.14.1. Personnel (on hand and changes in numbers since the previous report, and the reason for such changes);

5.14.2. Work accomplished (during the previous 24 hours, i.e. between 0000Z and 2359Z); Problems encountered (and reason(s) for such and proposals/suggestion(s) to eliminate future problems); and

5.14.3. Miscellaneous. Anything relevant.
Situation reports will be formatted as per Annex 5.

5.15. A similar report will be provided daily as well, by each national element via its liaison officer, to the LEMA, except if local authorities instruct otherwise.

5.16. The LEMA will also submit a daily report except that the basic minimum contents of their reports will be headed as follow:

  • Evolution of the situation;
  • New problems;
  • Requirements (including experts) which have yet to be met;
  • New requirements (including experts); and
  • Miscellaneous.

The reports will be formatted as per Annex 5.

5.17. In addition to the required daily reports, each important or exceptional event will be reported to the LEMA as rapidly possible after it occurs, with copy to the EADRCC for information.

5.18. If no time frame was agreed upon ahead of events, to carry out certain missions, each national element of the EADRU will warn the LEMA, and for information the EADRCC, when such missions are expected to end and when they have effectively ended.

5.19. Upon any deployment of the EADRU, the Secretary General and, as appropriate, the EAPC, and the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC) in EAPC format will be kept informed by the EADRCC via a General Daily Situation Report of events as they develop.

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6. Withdrawal

6.1. Withdrawal is the return to home base of a national element of the EADRU after the mission in the stricken nation has been completed. Normally, that return is planned in two phases in the following sequence:

  • Phase 1, Return of the main body; and
  • Phase 2, Return of the "Rear-guard".

6.2. The rôle of the "Rear-guard" is mainly to close accounts by settling all local expenses incurred during the mission and to return all equipment and buildings to the local authorities, to ensure that none of its assets is left behind, etc.

Preparation for withdrawal

6.3. The sending nation will determine the mode of transport suited to repatriate its national elements of the EADRU, and will communicate its plans to the stricken nation, to see if there are any further needs (with information copy to the EADRCC).

6.4. The stricken nation(s) will then arrange for itineraries to follow including the designation of border crossing point(s) and point(s) of embarkation.

6.5. The sending nation(s) will, with the assistance of the EADRCC if required, coordinate the movement of its national elements of the EADRU with the stricken (and transit) nation(s).

6.6. After finalisation of the coordinated plans, each national element of the EADRU will establish a GMT timetable for each one of its units, to include an ETD, an ETA at designated border crossing points, date/time at designated points of embarkation, an ETA at home base(s), and communicate same to the LEMA and transit nation(s), and for information to the EADRCC.

6.7. Each national element will complete the forms as per Annex 3 and will transmit via appropriate means; one set each to the LEMA, the transit nation(s) and for information to the EADRCC.

During the movement of the National Element

6.8. Each individual national element of the EADRU should inform the EADRCC, via appropriate means, of its actual time of departure (ATD) from the stricken nation.

6.9. To the extent possible, the authorities of the stricken nation(s) will inform the sending nation(s) (with information copy to the EADRCC) of the ETD at border crossing and point(s) of embarkation of each unit of their national element departing its territory.

6.10. Likewise, each unit of the national elements of the EADRU will so inform the EADRCC, either directly or via its national command, when it is about to cross borders, whether it anticipates problems and/or when such problems actually occur.

6.11. The mission ends when the national element of the EADRU reports its return to its home base.

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7. After Withdrawal

7.1. As soon as possible after the return to its home base of national elements, a nation should prepare a First Impression Report (FIR) and will address it to the EADRCC. The stricken and transit nations are requested to prepare a report for the EADRCC as soon as possible.

7.2. Subsequently, and within a time frame mutually agreed upon with the EADRCC, each sending nation will address a detailed final report to the EADRCC. That report will focus on :

  • The constitution of each unit of its national elements of the EADRU;
  • Their movement(s) to designated points of destination in the stricken nation(s);
  • Their build-up for action;
  • The winding down of their operation(s); and
  • Return to home base(s).

7.3. This detailed report should include paragraph(s) on problems encountered, on lessons learned and, if possible, recommendation/proposals to facilitate the intervention of national elements of the EADRU in future actions.

7.4. The stricken and the transit nations will also address detailed final reports to the EADRCC. These reports will principally focus on problems encountered, lessons learned, and possible recommendations/proposals to facilitate the intervention of national elements of the EADRU in future operations.

7.5. An overall FIR, and a general detailed final report will be prepared by the EADRCC, to be circulated to the EAPC and to the SCEPC in EAPC format.

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Download the PDF version of the Annexes
Annex 1: Schematic Rendition of the Preparedness Phase
Annex 2: Schematic Rendition of the Emergency Phase
Annex 3: Sample Forms for Border Crossing
Annex 4: Model Agreement Covering the Status of National Elements of the EADRU on Mission on the Territory of a Stricken Nation
Annex 5: Format for Daily Reports
Annex 6: List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
Annex 7: Information to be Maintained in the EADRU Database
  1. Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Regarding the Status of Their Forces; London, 19 June 1951
  2. Agreement among the States parties to the North Atlantic Treaty and the other States, participating in the Partnership for Peace regarding the status of their forces - Brussels, 19 June 1995
  3. See the "Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations" (adopted on 18 June 1998)