What actually gets done to protect civilians?
July 5, 2011 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for citation-worthy sources (studies, manuals, etc) on how civilians react in combat situations or natural disasters, and what police/military tactics & policies are for protecting civilians. Help?

My initial Google-fu leads to a whole lot of articles on how people are interested in reducing civilian casualties, but not specifically on what they do. There's tons out there on whether civilian casualties in various conflicts have gone up or down, but that's not what I'm looking for.

There have to be studies on how civilians react when bullets start flying and things start exploding, right? Measures of how/why people panic vs. people who take constructive action toward their own safety? Actual professional guidelines for protecting civilians that go beyond the obvious "get them the hell out of danger" priority?

The US Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Field Manual talks about targeting insurgent strategy instead of engaging & killing the insurgents (since it's more productive & less dangerous for civilians), but I haven't found much else in there.
posted by scaryblackdeath to Law & Government (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Refer to a book called "On Killing" I read the majority of it and was astonished by some of the facts. The author, Dave Grossman, did an excellent job. I highly reccomend it and recall him touching upon this question.

Click here for a link to "On Killing"
Click here for a link to "On Combat"
posted by berkshirenative at 10:52 AM on July 5, 2011

"“CIVIL-MILITARY GUIDELINES & REFERENCE FOR COMPLEX EMERGENCIES” is the first collection of core humanitarian instruments developed by the United Nations (UN) and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on civil-military relationship in complex emergencies. Its aim is to assist humanitarian and military professionals to deal with civil-military issues in a manner that respects and appropriately reflects humanitarian concerns at the strategic, operational and tactical levels - in accordance with international law, standards and principles."

Found here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2011

You might be interested in Amanda Ripley's The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why. The book covers different types of disasters, why different people react to them as they do, and it even discusses research that revealed the different brain structure of Special Ops folks.
posted by SillyShepherd at 3:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I may be way off the mark in terms of what you're looking for, but I did find these items.

These articles include info on how to cope with disasters beyond the "get them away from the bombs" style manuals, from the perspective of medicine/mental health, humanitarian aid, and non-military government agencies. Hope they might be useful.

Protecting Civilians in Disasters and Conflicts (Brookings Institution policy brief)

Disaster Response. Natural Disaster: Hurricane Katrina. (A review article on effectively implementing disaster response using Katrina as a case study)

Medical management of the traumatic consequences of civil unrest incidents: causation, clinical approaches, needs and advanced planning criteria

Crisis management briefings (CMB): large group crisis intervention in response to terrorism, disasters, and violence (PDF download.)

Disasters and Mass Casualties: I. General Principles of Response and Management

Disaster-response training manuals from the Int'l Trauma & Disaster Institute
posted by wowbobwow at 6:11 PM on July 5, 2011

I don’t think this really answers your question, but you’ve hit on a topic that is center stage in disaster academia. The way civilians respond to crises and the way we build organizational systems to reduce casualties are not always in sync. For most of disaster academia, there is a strong opinion that civilians do not panic or act like chickens – or inciting, as one researcher says, “panic, looting and mass hysteria” during a disaster, BUT most of our disaster response systems act as if they do. Much of it has to do with the influence of the military on disaster response – starting with the civil defense days – and now our systems rely heavily on a “command and control” model to make decisions, evacuate people and restore order. Other researchers feel that the “command and control” model must be in place to reduce casualties and those options promoted by the anti – “command and control” crowd are silly hippy rhetoric. Heated, windy e-mails are often exchanged.

More reading: The Deconstruction of the Command & Control Model by Dr. Henry Fischer

Social Problems Perspectives, Disaster Research and Emergency Management: Intellectual Contexts, Theoretical Extensions, and Policy Implications by Dr. Thomas Drabek (with a full citation list of pretty much every notable piece of literature in disaster theory).

Also, Dr. Drabek’s newest book: The Human Side of Disaster.

posted by jicinabox at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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