Defense Organizations in Emergency Networks: The Early Response to COVID-19 in Europe

Elvira Ruiz Kaneberg*, Wojciech Piotrowicz, Jana Abiková, Tore Listou, Sarah Schiffling, Claudia Paciarotti, Diego Vega, Kristjana Adalgeirsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study is to analyse the crisis network response of European countries and the role played by defence organizations (DOs) during the early response phase of the pandemic, here set to encompass 75 days.

Published materials – reports, news and communications – provided by authorities and DOs were used. Some of the authors actively participated in national pandemic response networks. An exploratory approach and qualitative content analysis were applied. The data were collected in national languages from 13 European countries, and they were coded and analysed using the actors, resources, and activities (ARA) framework.

This study identified three main categories of activity structures in which the DOs interacted with civilian members of response networks, health-related services, logistics services, and public support services. These networks among actors were found within formal response systems and emergent networks. The DOs engaged as actors that provided a range of services when civil authorities could not cope with the huge demand for specific services and when resources were scarce in the initial response phase.

This study contributes by filling an important research gap with regard to the civil-military relations associated with the use of DO resources in the civil response to the pandemic crisis in Europe, which is described as an untraditional response. The ARA network approach provides a framework for arranging ARA and extends the wider civil-military network to expand the formal networks of the early crisis response. The study lays knowledge about the co-operation between civilian and military actors in different contexts and provides a broader understanding of the roles that DOs played in the response operations.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)91-105
Publication statusPublished - 11.01.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Early emergency response
  • Defence organization
  • Civil-military collaboration
  • Complex emergencies
  • Slow-onset disasters
  • Network
  • COVID-19 pandemic

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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