My old unit in the Canadian Forces was “Rapid Deployment Squadron”; our role was to quickly establish command infrastructure upon air-drop in near-tactical areas with minimal notice.
Reading some of the reports from Haiti, it seems this would have been a perfect deployment.
Despite issues of sovereignty, the biggest problem in severely disaster-stricken areas is that their existing, recognizable command and coordination has just been destroyed. They may or may not have backup facilities available. The inpouring of aid to Haiti was an example of overwhelming the non-existent coordination with aid that could not be leveraged. The worst example is that of medical professionals who were pushed back from arriving, arrived to non-existent facilities, had their backup (supplies and staff) delayed and hijacked, and eventually had to abandon the hospital and the people of Haiti because they were no longer able to work.
Consider that: professionals willing to use their hard-earned skill to support the people of another country, and left in a position of doing more harm to themselves and others, fleeing because of the competition building for their limited ongoing benefit.
Like any military force in hostile or contested grounds, a compassionate force needs support: reinforcements, supplies, logistics. A disaster is no time for politics, although clearly respecting the existing government is a critical enabling factor. Once it’s clear there is no threat to sovereignty, command-and-control, with protection of supplies and personnel, need to come in with rapid attention to establishing a protected supply chain and blossoming medical support as quickly as can be safely organized.
There should be no assumption as to existing conditions: a ground-guide can quickly appraise whether replacement shelters, power, water, communications need to be laid in. At least one airstrip and a dockside should be coordinated by the augmentation force, until such time as the region which is victim to a massive global disaster, can clearly resume control.
Note: “resume control”; such an aid-to-civil-authority should be done with the acceptance of the government in power; that said, greenzones should be established just as in hostile territory. Desperate people, acting in predictably extreme means, can sabotage an entire relief effort in an attempt to help their kin. It’s understandable, but should be postured against.
My old unit could have landed in Haiti, resumed comms, enabled a channel for a platoon to create a green-zone, and allowed medical flights to create a medical-relief zone, even if on the very edge of the airstrip.
Instead, transports of medical gear are hijacked, flights canceled, professionals turned back, and the populace suffers.