Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, June 09, 2006

Stabilization and Reconstruction Operation in Post-Conflict and Crisis Zones: The Challenge of Military and Civilian Cooperation

A Conference held at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars June 7, 2006

This conference, held at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars brought together decision makers and experts from government, armed forces, non governmental organizations (NGO), academia, and the media to discuss the challenges and opportunities of applying traditional military capabilities to non-traditional stabilization and reconstruction tasks. The discussion centered on the challenges of fostering a secure operating environment for development aid and reconstruction efforts to work effectively. Two groups of panelists provided the discussion.

First Panel-Civil Military Relations in the Field: Challenges and Opportunities

Linda Robinson: Senior Writer, U.S. News and World Report,
Author, Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
• Says that it is important that policy makers do not “reinvent the wheel”. Old experiences are very important and we should learn from them, not disregard them.
• Believes that most solutions are worked out on the ground. Those actors on the ground have the incentive to solve the issues and are willing to work for long term resolutions. Military may be more inclined to reach short-term solutions.
• Thinks that Special Forces should be used i.e. Foreign Affairs Officer’s (FAO), engineers, etc. Says that a core element of their training is to see these conflicts as non-military conflicts. They are trained to roll over to stability operations (she saw this done in Iraq)—they are required to have cultural and language training, something not all military people have.
• Does not think that all problems can be solved i.e. Somalia and Haiti

H. Roy Williams: President, Center for Humanitarian Cooperation
• “We are locked into our own preconditioned perceptions.” This disables you from being operationally helpful.
• People deal with information from their own structures because it is more convenient to them, rather than learning about other peoples cultures.
• Says that people see the West as intruding where they do not belong.
• Says that no operation begins the day the event happens. It begins with preparations, and that is something that the military is not very good at—preparing.
• Says that we need to achieve a neutral venue that is available to all.
• Believes that the world is compressing and we need to be able to change with it.

Paula Loyd: Civil-Military Affairs Officer
U.N. Mission to Afghanistan
• Says that if we want Afghanistan to succeed, we must move beyond doctrinal debates.
• Says that Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) are an accepted part of the landscape in Afghanistan.
• Believes that Provincial Stabilization Assessments must be used in Afghanistan: how we can all use our resources to stabilize that particular province.
• Says that time frames are an issue: every group that comes in has a certain amount of time there and, when they leave, they want to show that they did something—this can lead to dollars being wasted.
• Another problem is that military does not always understand tribal policies, so this can worsen things if they support one tribe versus another.
• Says that the Afghanistan National Defense Strategy is really good and is doing good things for the country.

Q. How long will all of this take? (fighting, cleaning up, etc)
A. Robinson: That all depends on how much money Congress gives us.
Williams: A decade, if we are lucky.
Loyd: 15 years. We might have to go back in another 30 years.

Second Panel: Lessons Learned: Implications for Policy, Decision-Making, and Establishing Best Practices

Col. John F. Agoglia: Director, U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute
• Believes we need to make better policy, not better soldiers.
• The challenge is to have adequate policy
• Intellectual clarity is essential. Without it, change is irrelevant. To get intellectual clarity, you must know how to define it, then you can achieve it. (he never defines it)
• We do not have intellectual clarity because we do not effectively talk to each other.
• Says that it is a myth that we can work this out on the ground because it is too easy to make mistakes on the ground—at the time you do not realize that they are mistakes—that is why you need good policies.
• Misdiagnosis of problems is a problem—calling them humanitarian problems when they are the country’s government’s problems—referred to Somalia.
• Says that diplomacy is the key and we do not do diplomacy well because we do not communicate with each other—do not work together well.
• Says that ground troops want policy guidelines, not intelligence about the bad guys.—need strategic framework that tells them how to approach the problems that are going on.

Julia Taft: Interim President and CEO InterAction
• She had a lot of stories…
• 1991- issues on neutrality—Gen. Gardner did not know anything about refugees and relied on NGO’s to find out what he needed to do. She tells that a Gen. Campbell said, “The capability that exists and strengthen the civilian’s side is our ticket home.” This is why the military does what they are told to do, when they are told to do it.
• What military does best in a conflict situation:
1. security
2. vital infrastructure
3. demobilizations and disarmament
4. ensure that domestic workforce benefits (a problem in Iraq now)
5. support joint planning of civilian agencies
• Civilians can mobilize support and chare in the burden of problems. They also understand that it is going to take a long time to rebuild. This is why it should be left to the civilians to do the work on the ground.
• Lessons Learned:
1. whichever agency has the money will decide the policy
2. there are many competent institutions that are essential to the success
3. CSIS post conflict reconstruction study
4. military is best at military functions; not civilian. We must support the people of these countries because, in the end, they are not our countries, they are theirs

Robert M. Perito: Senior Program Officer, Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability
• Must focus on provincial reconstruction teams (PRT)—brings together civilians and military
• PRT’s mission is to promote security and reconstruction
• What we learned:
1. U.S. civilian agencies have no capacity to surge agencies in a post conflict environment
2. these operations are not a game for amateurs
3. what will happen when the U.S. forces come down in Iraq and Afghanistan (something we do not know yet)


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