The Protection of Civilians in U.S. Partnered Operations

The United States’ national security and defense strategies, as well as trends in U.S. military operations around the globe, reflect a preference for working by, with, and through partners to achieve common security objectives. Security partnerships can take a wide range of forms, from support operations and advise, assist, and accompany missions, to direct participation in hostilities through “joint” or “partnered” operations and coalitions. However, partnerships in armed conflict can aggravate or reduce the risk of harm to civilians, exposing civilians to a wide array of risks, including injury, death, trauma, displacement, and the destruction of homes, schools, infrastructure, and livelihoods. This report assesses the challenges and opportunities faced by policymakers, military actors, and humanitarian professionals in positively shaping the conduct of armed forces partnering with U.S. forces to mitigate civilian harm. 



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Melissa G. Dalton is a senior fellow and deputy director of the International Security Program (ISP) and Director of the Cooperative Defense Project (CDP) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Kelsey Hampton is the former policy coordinator of Protection with InterAction’s Humanitarian Policy and Practice team. Daniel R. Mahanty is the director of CIVIC’s U.S. Program. Jenny McAvoy is InterAction’s director of Protection. Hijab Shah is a research associate with CSIS ISP. Julie Snyder is the former research and advocacy associate with CIVIC’s U.S. Program.

This report was produced through a partnership between CSIS, The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), and InterAction. CSIS’s contribution was made possible by CSIS general support funds. CIVIC’s contribution was made possible by funding from the Open Society Foundations. InterAction’s contribution was made possible by funding from a private foundation.

Daniel Mahanty

Daniel Mahanty

Former Senior Associate (Non-resident), Humanitarian Agenda

Julie Snyder

Jenny McAvoy

Director of Protection, InterAction

Kelsey Hampton

Hijab Shah

Melissa Dalton