Reflections on Service

During National Military Appreciation Month, learn more about how USAID and the U.S. military work together

The U.S. military worked alongside USAID, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Public Health Service, to help quell the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. / Morgana Wingard for USAID

Longtime partners in promoting U.S. national security and averting crises worldwide, USAID and the Department of Defense frequently share the same spaces in developing nations and rely on each other to leverage unique talents and capabilities.

Together, we have helped curb global health epidemics like Ebola and Zika, are addressing the root causes of instability and conflict around the world, and are helping to lift communities from devastation after natural disasters like the recent floods in Peru and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

During National Military Appreciation Month, hear from some military liaisons at USAID about what motivates them to serve and how USAID and the military work together.


Army Lieutenant Colonel Greg Ulma is USAID’s military liaison from U.S. Central Command and part of USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

What is your role at USAID?

As a military liaison to USAID, I connect civilian-military coordinators at USAID with U.S. Central Command to ensure we work in a mutually supporting manner. I also advise USAID leadership by providing a military insight when necessary and the occasional “translation” of military jargon when we find ourselves working in the same space.

How would you describe what we do at USAID to other military colleagues?

I link U.S. Central Command to the entirety of the Agency. That involves some detective work searching for answers to questions that the command has of USAID and vice versa. I also create collaboration opportunities between our agencies, working closely with a USAID Senior Development Advisor at the command, ensuring that communication, coordination and collaboration are happening wherever and whenever possible.

From your experience, does the military make good partners with USAID?

We do, and I saw it first-hand in my recent trip to Amman, Jordan. What a dynamic and exciting mission. I saw how integrated the U.S. Army Civil Affairs team is with the USAID mission to gain insights on the drivers of violent extremism and how we can try and deter them from choosing that path.


Navy Lieutenant Commander Add Daniel is USAID’s military liaison from U.S. Southern Command and part of USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

What’s the greatest similarity you’ve seen between the military and USAID?

The similarities between the two agencies are the systems and methodologies in place that are designed to achieve results — despite each having a unique language of their own.

How would you describe what we do at USAID to other military colleagues?

USAID does more than respond to catastrophes or natural disasters. USAID’s relationship with developing countries allows them to build or improve their self-reliance, and it often happens through various USAID programs and projects.

From your experience, does the military make good partners with USAID?

We have similar missions, so why not work together to protect our country and build opportunity for all of us? In the U.S. Navy, we follow a creed of “honor, courage and commitment,” and my colleagues at USAID have shown to do the same.


Army Lieutenant Colonel Casey Miner is an Army Interagency Fellow serving for a year in a developmental assignment as USAID’s Kyrgyzstan Desk Officer in USAID’s Asia Bureau.

What inspired you to first serve in the military? What motivates you now?

I was in college when the buildup for Desert Shield started. I increasingly felt that I needed to serve something bigger than myself. I was in basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, when many soldiers were coming home. It had a huge impact on me. I am motivated now because I see the integration of forces working while at USAID. There’s a quicker cycle of implementing lessons learned and seeing effective teams accomplish missions together. I am able to balance military and civilian goals, which often complement each other.

What’s the greatest similarity you’ve seen between the military and USAID?

There are a lot of similarities between the military and USAID. The deep knowledge and skills that both entities possess complement the intersection of civilian and defense environments. The military and USAID plan well and get things done, often in austere and dangerous environments.


Army Lieutenant Colonel Chad Stover is USAID’s military liaison from U.S. European Command and part of USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

What’s the greatest similarity you’ve seen between the military and USAID?

The greatest similarity I see is the willingness of people in both organizations to spend time away from their loved ones and put themselves in harm’s way to selflessly serve their country.

How would you describe what we do at USAID to other military colleagues?

I work around people who love what they do, enjoy helping those in need, and help countries that want to strive become stable and reliable partners of the United States.

From your experience, does the military make good partners with USAID?

Definitely. We need a united approach to stabilize fragile parts of the world. During my trip to the mission in Kosovo, I learned that there is a great working relationship between USAID, the military, and the Department of State. Together, we met with members of the Kosovo Government, local reporters and NGOs within the community to discuss joint efforts to increase stability in the Balkans.


About the Author

Kristen Byrne is the Strategic Communications & Outreach Specialist in USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation. Read about a history of service and similarities between USAID and DOD. Learn more about how USAID works with U.S. Government agencies and military