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Newsletter 11-23
March 2011

Partner Nation Capacity Building: Setting Conditions for Success

Colonel Kenneth J. Crawford, U.S. Army

Reprinted with permission from the January-February 2010 issue of Military Review.

Many of our Soldiers and Leaders are on their second, third, or fourth rotation to either Iraq or Afghanistan. While they are likely to be conducting missions at the next higher level, they capitalize on their previous deployment experiences to provide the focus and energy to overcome challenges and adversity. Our culture as professionals includes identifying the mission, visualizing the end state, developing and implementing solutions to achieve the end state, successfully accomplishing the mission, and starting it all over again as a matter of routine. No one sets out to fail. We must set the conditions for future success by providing a foundation of skills, knowledge, and resources in our training and educational programs through a comprehensive methodology from the individual Soldier up to the corps staff and leader levels.

Framing the Problem

Capacity building is an "ill-structured problem."1 We can certainly agree that there is no common structure, process, or system to comprehensively prepare Soldiers, leaders, and units for success in the myriad challenges they potentially face during full spectrum operations at the operational and tactical levels. Many will have their own views on how to structure the training regimen to set the condition for future success; capacity building is more of an art than a science, and success is often elusive and based on trial and error. Mapping this structurally complex problem is difficult, as demonstrated in Figure 2-1, yet understanding the applications, resources, and methodologies we apply during humanitarian assistance and stability operations at home and abroad is easy. We must provide better education and training to enable our Soldiers and leaders to achieve success under austere conditions now and in the future.

Directives for Strategic/Joint Solutions

Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 3000.05, Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations, sets forth the requirement for "planning, training, and preparing to conduct and support stability operations." It states that it "is a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support."2 Beginning in February 2006, DOD established the Training Transformation Implementation Plan, which is "outcome-focused in terms of the training needed to support requirements, missions, and capabilities, while preserving the ability of the Services and Combat Support Agencies to train on their core competencies and Individual Mission Essential Tasks."3 The plan focuses on the Joint level of training, and those fortunate individuals selected to attend this training add value to the Joint and combined level of operations. The plan dictates that "individuals and the units and staffs they comprise must be trained and educated to conduct operations prior to arrival as well as during employment in the combatant command area of responsibility."4 However, the directive stresses the importance of strategic training at the Joint rather than the tactical and operational levels where most forces partner with host-nation leaders during deployment.

Figure 2-1

In May 2007, the General Accounting Office published a report stating, "DOD has yet to identify and prioritize the full range of capabilities needed for stability operations because DOD has not provided clear guidance on how and when to accomplish this task. As a result, the services are pursuing initiatives to address capability shortfalls that may not reflect the comprehensive set of capabilities that will be needed by combatant commanders to effectively accomplish stability operations in the future."5 The DOD response to the Government Accountability Office report said, "DOD has undertaken to improve its ability to conduct these operations."6 Since the publication of this report, we have seen the development and proliferation of individual training elements in the Counterinsurgency Academy, the Education Center, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as capacity-building scenarios during combat training center rotations. However, a comprehensive, holistic approach for corps and below remains nonexistent. On 13 January 2009, DOD Directive 1322.18, Military Training, codified Joint level training by mandating that "the Secretaries of the Military Departments will establish and conduct individual, collective, and staff training programs and, to the maximum extent possible, align training schedules, curricula, and syllabi to support Joint and integrated operations training."7 Given these directives, plans, and concepts for training Joint stability operations and combatant commanders lessons learned and direct training for JTF staffs, a void exists for standardizing and synthesizing the training for units at the corps level and below who must interpolate their deployment mission essential tasks and train accordingly.

Capacity Building Defined

FM 3-07 (Oct 2008) Stability Operations: "Capacity building is the process of creating an environment that fosters host-nation institutional development, community participation, human resources development, and strengthening managerial systems."

UNDP Definition (circa 1991): "the creation of an enabling environment with appropriate policy and legal frameworks, institutional development, including community participation, human resources development and strengthening of managerial systems; UNDP recognizes that capacity building is a long-term, continuing process, in which all stakeholders participate (ministries, local authorities, nongovernmental organizations and water user groups, professional associations, academics and others."

Ford Foundation Definition (circa 1996): defines "capacity building" as the "process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes, and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt, and thrive in the fast-changing world."

Capability Gaps Limit Training for Capacity Building Operations

On 2 December 2008, I attended a training, gaming, and simulations conference conducted in Orlando, Florida. During my visit, I openly challenged the forum, both military and our civilian corporate partners, to commit their program, engineering, and product development efforts to the creation of an echeloned capacity-building capability that we can use to train our forces. This is only one aspect of preparing our Soldiers, leaders, and units to successfully conduct stability operations abroad, but history teaches us that this capability is essential, especially at the brigade level and below during counterinsurgency operations. This article articulates "a way" to approach the education, training and skill set development in a gated training strategy methodology. Additionally, it highlights the need for a timely and credible set of tools within the live-virtual-constructive training environment - especially tools that capture the lessons, experiences, and subtleties experienced after over seven years of commitment in the War on Terrorism. Many capabilities exist, but their development is slow, their focus too broad, unresponsive to the warfighter's needs, and encumbered by significant overhead for implementation and management - three elements we cannot afford as our operations continue to rapidly evolve from one year to the next. We need solutions now!

- Lieutenant General Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
U.S. Army Installation Management Command

All too often, corps- and below-units execute missions their predecessors conducted, from which they learned invaluable lessons. In essence, they apply tools gained from what they perceive through training for their mission (based on Pre-Deployment Site Surveys, previous deployments, and their combat training center experiences) and focus on specific deployment mission-essential tasks. During deployment, they revisit the experiences and relearn the lessons of their predecessors. Every unit leader strives to get it "about right" in pre-deployment training and education and applies his training experiences during deployment. However, these "home-grown" solutions are a compilation of valuable experiences that often remain at the unit's home station or move with the leaders to their next assignments. Our combat training centers do a credible job replicating many of the challenges that units and leaders will experience "down range," but we expect units and leaders to arrive with credible skill sets and a high degree of knowledge to enable their success in stability operations.

What Are We Missing?

The U.S. Army and Marine Corps lack the holistic training strategy, knowledge base, and training construct necessary to execute stability operations, specifically capacity building in enabling and transitioning to civil authority.8 Two parallel challenges exist-focusing and structuring capacity-building training for deployment and resourcing the training at the right levels to successfully meet mission requirements.

As part of training, we must educate Soldiers, leaders, and staffs to facilitate strong local governance and transition to civil authority. In future foreign endeavors, our Soldiers, leaders, and units at every level will be executing partner-nation capacity building during and following post-conflict operations. To maintain momentum, increase efficiencies, and set the conditions for future transitions to civil authority, we must unify this training in our professional military education, and address and resource its tactical, operational, and strategic requirements.

A Comprehensive Approach to Training

To properly prepare units and Soldiers for full spectrum operations in austere environments, we must nest training methodology and resources within leader development programs through the three cycles of force generation (reset, train/ready, and available). During the reset phase, we must capture and incorporate lessons learned into our training products. As individuals arrive, they can share their previous experiences and learn from the experiences of their new unit. Individuals and units in the train/ready phase can benefit from the products and inputs of units and leaders in the reset phase and previous operational experiences relevant to their objectives. Units in the available phase sustain the knowledge and skills as leaders and staffs change or rotate.

Army personnel and readiness core enterprises must leverage their capabilities and resources to enable the strategy. This concept focuses on specific training audiences and incorporates multiple resources to reach training end states. Simply put, training must begin in institutional centers of excellence and extend for sustainment into the generating force through a gated training strategy. We must focus on individual, collective, leader-specific, and specialized organizational and staff tasks we commonly perform to influence the populace

Individual through squad level. Individuals, teams, and squads must understand the link or bridge of actions "on the ground" as they provide security, conduct patrols or reconnaissance, and assess infrastructure to determine immediate effects on public works as well as second-order effects on the support of the local populace.

Platoon leaders and company and battalion commanders. These leaders must be able to recognize and assess problems and develop solutions in cooperation with host-nation officials to accomplish the mission as we transition to enable civil authority. Building professional and supportive relationships is crucial to gaining the trust and confidence of the people and their support to local government during tactical engagements.

Others. Provincial reconstruction teams, government and nongovernmental organizations, and brigade, division, and corps commanders must be able to acquire or provide the necessary resources to enable the host nation's government (district, province, city, state, or nation) to resolve problems and train economic, governmental, public works, and security agencies. Units may find themselves operating or working closely with other dynamic, capabilities-based organizations. Building lasting relationships at the operational and strategic levels with these organizations is critical. Often, such relationships become formal partnerships to ensure operations are host-nation led rather than U.S. directed.

Staffs. Staffs must understand the complexity of the capacity-building to develop, plan, and synchronize resources to accomplish the mission successfully. The structure, limitations, capabilities, and dynamics of host-nation agencies and reach-back technology are critical to the staff's function in capacity building. In essence, the staff uses nonlethal effects to integrate them across the functional staff.

The proposed training strategy has three parts:

  • Education.
  • Simulations and gaming.
  • Embedding with government.


"Crawl-walk-run" is a continual, "live" training process to increase knowledge and expertise at the individual and collective levels. Each portion builds upon the other. Leaders of individuals and units select the curriculum to include in their training and remain flexible to adapt to meet the requirements of their deployment and the availability of all personnel and staffs. They focus their timeline on validation during their mission readiness exercises. Continual refinement will occur following the unit's block leave period in the form of recommended reading lists, formal classroom instruction, site visits, online and correspondence courses, or audits of university classes. During deployment, units may continue the educational process online and exploit reach-back capabilities as part of a comprehensive DOD information or knowledge management-resourcing network.

Simulations and Gaming

With a "walk-run" focus, the gaming process addresses the outcome of an individual's chosen nonlethal effects decision. Algorithms developed from practical application in operational environments and actual requirements provide a realistic experience to the user. Individuals (leaders and staffs) apply basic principles learned through their coursework. The program can include multiple players working to achieve a common end state. Simulations or games must remain relevant and current to be of any training value. To ensure units tailor the simulation to their training objectives, the simulation allows users to develop their own scenarios. Development and application solutions already exist (Low Overhead Driver, Peace Support Operations Module, "SIM City," and S.E.N.S.E.).9

Company and below simulations. Training and Doctrine Command should immediately begin developing a games solution, using pre-existing software. As previously stated, algorithms and situations include realism, decision-making options, second order effects, and ramifications of similar experiences found in persistent conflict. They are a highly motivating and dynamic tool for learning. Off-the-shelf programs (e.g. "SIM City") can be easily modified (through spiral development) into a game and training tool and be hung on the Army's recruiting and retention web site similar to "America's Army."10 This could help develop Soldiers and leaders even before they enter the service. It could also be a media outlet for recruiting.

Brigade and battalion. We should develop a comprehensive capacity-building training simulation that builds the staff's ability to develop plans, make recommendations, and exercise battle command. The Peace Support Operations Module and Full Spectrum Low Overhead Driver both offer the means to conduct computer-assisted war-gaming for the full range of peace support, stability, and counterinsurgency operations and nonlethal effects. Peace Support Operations Module is currently available with a single scenario structure, and the National Simulations Center is developing Full Spectrum Low Overhead Driver. In varying degrees, both of these programs address the five essential stability tasks of establishing civil security and civil control, restoring essential services, and supporting governance and economic and infrastructure development. If pressed to the field now, spiral development can incorporate lessons learned in a collaborative environment with units and leaders alike.

Division and above level units. Training and Doctrine Command and Joint Forces Command should align staff training aids, tools, and simulations and nest them in their validation exercises. The Strategic Economic Needs and Security Simulations Exercise developed by the Institute for Defense Analysis is a virtual fictitious operating environment that provides opportunities for creative problem-solving, strategic insight development, and decision-making benefit analysis. Using spiral development, the Army could procure this program immediately and develop it to provide a multi-disciplinary framework for time-sensitive decision making with "expansion packs" that incorporate specific operating environments for focused training.

Embedding with Government

To gain expertise of the crawl-walk-run process, we must focus on three target groups:

Brigade, division, and corps key leaders. Commanding generals, their deputies, and commanders must work closely with city, state, regional, and national leaders with whom they will most likely partner during deployment. Units should explore opportunities to embed organizations and agencies such as provincial reconstruction teams to capitalize on experience and expertise. Embedding must include placing key leaders with a large-city mayor, city manager, or state governor for a specific amount of time to develop relationships and learn effective processes and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP). A second, but less effective approach would be to establish and standardize a resident training program at a centralized location and bring "experts" there to provide the education and experience; the drawback to this method is the inability to see how the process occurs first hand. Either method will enable key leaders to gain a better understanding of the complexities of building and sustaining capabilities. This program should be directly linked to the provincial reconstruction team training process. In a counterinsurgency environment, training objectives must support national political objectives and nation-building responsibilities. We learned this from our experiences in Vietnam and the Balkans.

Staffs. Functional and integrating staffs must have memoranda of agreement with local, state, or federal government offices and corporations that desire to have a positive impact on Soldier and unit readiness. Individual staff level proponents (action officers) work in government offices as embedded interns learning programs and systems first-hand to acquire a working knowledge of plans and solutions. As part of the unit's leader development program, best practices and procedures are produced and shared across formations, published as articles, and potentially codified as standard operating procedures.

Soldiers. Educating and training Soldiers, leaders, and units in capacity building is an echeloned, multi-faceted, and continuous process that includes government and nongovernmental organizations and agencies. Pre-deployment culminating training exercises for divisions and corps as well as brigade and below mission readiness exercises at the combat training centers validate capabilities. During deployment operations, the established structure and continuity for reach-back connectivity, best practices, TTP, and trends are maintained in warfghter forums and incorporated into spiral development.

The Next Step

We recommend a holistic Army capacity-building training strategy to build individual and collective knowledge and skills for successful nonlethal engagements during full spectrum operations using a synchronized, structured, and targeted methodology. The call to develop a gaming and simulations-based training program is an integral component of the live-virtual-constructive integrated training environment. We must do something now. We must implement the program using a spiral development approach that develops and procures, fields and implements, trains and tests, provides feedback, updates and refines, and starts the process over again. Here's how:

  • Identify and articulate training requirements and specifications through an Operational Needs Statement.
  • Use Warfighter forums in which participating leaders gain insights, identify what is missing, and determine how to leverage expertise for the spiral development of simulations.
  • Implement by providing a "test bed" to develop all elements of this strategy and solutions that nest with a unit's force-generation timeline.
  • Market the capability by displaying concepts - specifically what we can do now - during key leader and commander conferences.
  • Publish articles to increase professional dialogue and share ideas that improve the Army and individual competencies.
  • Develop/procure, field/implement, train/test, provide feedback, update/refine . . . and start the spiral development process over again.

Leaders and units succeed in operations abroad because of their training, intellect, and the resources made available to them prior to and during deployment. A resourced and comprehensive capacity-building training strategy flexible enough to remain relevant in today's operating environment can increase efficiencies and provide the unity of effort leaders across the Army seek. This article proposes ways to structure this much-needed strategy. Now, it is up to us to implement it.


1. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet 525-5-500, The U.S. Army Commander's Appreciation and Campaign Design, ver. 1.0 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office [GPO]), 28 January 2008

2. Department of Defense Directive Number 3000.05, Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations (Washington, DC: GPO, 28 November 2005).

3. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Director, Readiness and Training Policy and Programs, Department of Defense Training Transformation Implementation Plan, FY2006-FY2011 (Washington, DC: GPO, 23 February 2006).

4. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Director, Readiness and Training Policy and Programs, Strategic Plan for Transforming DOD Training (Washington, DC: GPO, 8 May 2006).

5. U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report, GAO-07-549 (Washington, DC: GPO) Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Stability Operations Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning, May 2007, 2.

6. Ibid., 51.

7. Department of Defense Directive Number 1322.18, Military Training, 13 January 2009, 7.

8. The need for this strategy assumes the U.S. military has a formal nation-building role as articulated in U.S. Army Field Manual 3-07, Stability Operations (Washington, DC: GPO), para. 2-6 and 2-7.

9. Peace Support Operations Module is a PC-based program developed by the British Defense Support Technologies Laboratory and is currently being used through a Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement by the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, CA.

10. See "".


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