Section 3. Civilian Surge — Key to Complex Operations
Sizing the Civilian Response Capacity for Complex Operations Christel Fonzo-Eberhard and Richard L. Kugler
Complex Operations: Recalibrating the State Department's Role James A. Schear and Leslie B. Curtin
A consensus is growing within interagency discourse that the U.S. Government needs to build an improved civilian response capacity for complex operations. How large should this capacity be in terms of manpower, and what missions and tasks should it be expected to perform? More fundamentally, how should the United States go about making calculated decisions in this arena? What analytical standard should it employ to size and design the civilian force to ensure that a proper mixture of skills is available? This chapter addresses these important questions in ways that can help suggest initial answers and set the stage for further analysis and planning. Subsequent chapters assess the kinds and qualities of civilian skills required.
Civilian response capacity force-sizing issues demand urgent attention, as complex operations have become more and more a function of U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy decision-making. Complex operations are those necessitating interagency responses that include not only military forces but also significant numbers of civilians who can perform a wide variety of missions and tasks. These operations can range from relatively small and temporary missions (for example, responding to natural disasters) to quite large and enduring presences (such as performing stabilization and reconstruction [S&R] operations) that could require hundreds or even thousands of civilian personnel for several years. Moreover, these operations do not necessarily occur one at a time. Today, for example, the United States is performing major S&R operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has deployed about 3,000 military and civilian personnel to staff Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). In these teams, military personnel often are assigned tasks better suited to civilians.
As recent experience shows, complex operations of significant size are best not mounted in an ad hoc fashion. The U.S. Government will be best prepared to execute complex operations if it possesses a skilled, well-trained civilian response capacity that can be applied adeptly to the missions at hand, and if it employs a rigorous analytical framework to size and design this force. This chapter proposes that a civilian force be constructed for surge and sustainment of one large, one medium, and four small complex operations.
The stage for analysis and debate on this subject has been set by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2009,1 which called on the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) to create two bodies: a Response Readiness Corps and a Civilian Reserve Corps. The proposed Response Readiness Corps will have 2,250 full-time Federal employees, divided into an active component of 250 full-time personnel and 2,000 standby personnel. The proposed reserve corps will have 2,000 volunteers drawn from the private sector and state and local governments who can provide a mobilization capacity with specific skill sets to supplement the active/standby components when necessary.
Conditions were in place for this architecture before passage of the NDAA; National Security Presidential Directive 44 actually tasked State (S/CRS specifically) to develop a robust civilian response, and then passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2008 supplemental in the summer of 2008 provided S/CRS with $50 million and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with $25 million to begin standing up the civilian response capacity with the hiring of 100 active component personnel and the identification and training of 500 standby component personnel. The NDAA has now officially authorized S/CRS to build the civilian response capacity, including its reserve component. The reserve component has not been funded yet, so the focus is on the active and standby components. Until further appropriations bills are passed, S/CRS will not be able to build up to proposed numbers. The George W. Bush administration requested $248 million in State's FY09 appropriations request, which has yet to be passed.
The NDAA legislation clearly is a step in the right direction. But in authorizing a civilian response capacity of 2,250 active/standby personnel and 2,000 reservists, does it provide sufficient manpower to meet future requirements for complex operations and S&R missions?
This chapter judges that the proposed 250 full-time and 2,000 standby personnel likely will be too few and argues that the civilian response capacity can best be sized and designed by employing an analytical framework that considers a wide spectrum of potential scenarios and requirements. No single scenario and associated manpower requirement are capable of capturing the multiple possibilities ahead, but a wide spectrum of scenarios can help bound the range of uncertainty and enable the United States to make sound decisions on how to prepare to respond flexibly and effectively to a constantly changing future in which requirements for complex operations ebb and flow. By employing a multi-scenario framework, we conclude that an active/standby civilian response capacity of 5,000 personnel backed by a reserve force of 10,000 personnel makes strategic sense.
Such a force is significantly larger than that envisioned by the NDAA, but it does accord with how the Department of Defense (DOD) goes about sizing its Active and Reserve military forces for multiple contingences. In the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), DOD assessed that its military forces should be capable of steady-state and surge operations for defending the homeland; prevailing in the war on terror and conducting irregular operations; and conducting and winning conventional campaigns.2 Within this framework, DOD calls for forces and capabilities that can carry out simultaneous operations of differing sizes and types. In following a similar approach, we envision a civilian response capacity that could handle confidently the range of concurrent scenarios that plausibly could occur, and provide a sufficiently robust mixture of skills and attributes for tailoring U.S. responses to the specific situations at hand. Simply stated, a smaller civilian response capacity would not be large enough, and a larger force (for example, 7,500 active/standby civilians) would be overly endowed.
Civilian response capacity force-sizing can be aided by employing a 1-1-4 sizing construct that envisions multiple concurrent contingencies. That is, the civilian force should be prepared to carry out and sustain operations for one large (for example, Iraq), one medium (for example, Afghanistan), and four small (for example, tsunami relief and humanitarian operations in Georgia) complex operations. A requirement for an active/standby force of 5,000 civilian response capacity personnel would arise, for example, if the large operation requires 2,000 personnel, the medium operation requires 1,000 personnel, and each of the small operations requires 500 personnel. This civilian response capacity, of course, would be available not only for this particular construct, but also for a range of different contingencies that could require varying sizes and mixes of personnel.
The key point is that this capacity would enable the United States to surge 5,000 active/standby personnel for a number of concurrent contingencies that might arise and to sustain this presence for about a year. A reserve civilian response capacity of 10,000 personnel would permit sustainment of this civilian surge for 2 or more years, following the military practice of preparing one-third of the force for deployment, while one-third deploys and one-third is reconstituted.
Civilian Response Capacity Missions and Tasks - Past, Present, and Future
To create a foundation for appraising future scenarios and their civilian response capacity manpower requirements, analysis can best begin by addressing why and how significant numbers of skilled civilians might be needed for performing specific missions and tasks in complex operations. The term complex operations is relatively new, but the practice of employing U.S. military and civilian personnel to help bring security, governance, and reconstruction to foreign nations is not. After World War II, the United States performed occupation duties in Germany and Japan in ways intended to rebuild these conquered countries, install democratic governments, and ignite economic recovery. In both cases, the U.S. military was mainly responsible for S&R operations, and civilians supplemented the effort. In Germany, about 8,000 U.S. Army Civil Affairs personnel were initially employed for this purpose, and civilians numbered about 1,400 during the years in which the Marshall Plan was in full flower. In Japan, about 2,000 Army Civil Affairs personnel were used, and civilians numbered about 200. In both countries, reliance on the U.S. military and indigenous institutions kept U.S. civilian manpower requirements relatively low. Moreover, both countries already possessed modern institutions and economies, which also reduced the need for U.S. civilians.3
The first big U.S. experience performing S&R operations in an underdeveloped country came in Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. In that country, about 1,500 civilian personnel were initially deployed to occupy positions of the State Department, USAID, and the U.S. Information Agency. Beginning in 1967, an additional 1,300 civilians were deployed to help staff the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program, which endeavored to bring security and development to 44 provinces and 250 districts across the country. In addition, about 6,400 military personnel were assigned to CORDS, bringing its total to nearly 8,000, plus several thousand South Vietnamese military and civilian personnel. The CORDS program was the biggest S&R effort ever launched by the U.S. Government. On the whole, it made significant progress toward performing its mission, although it was reduced as the United States withdrew from South Vietnam in the early 1970s. In the end, it was negated by North Vietnamese conquest in 1975. Even so, CORDS' large size helps illuminate the substantial number of military and civilian personnel that can be needed when the goal is to bring security and development to a chaotic, violence-plagued country.4
Today, the United States finds itself performing major S&R operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where PRTs are the main institutional instrument for performing these missions. Of the 28 PRTs in Iraq, 25 are led by the United States, and Britain, Italy, and the Republic of Korea each lead one. The U.S.-led PRTs are assigned across Iraq's 18 provinces and are headed by State Department personnel, even though several are embedded in U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams. In Afghanistan, there are 12 PRTs led by the United States, plus 14 led by International Security Assistance Force partners. In contrast to Iraq, the PRTs in Afghanistan are led by military officers. Currently, no standard U.S. Government-approved model exists for designing PRTs. As a result, they are normally sized and designed on a case-by-case basis. In both countries, PRTs typically average 50-100 personnel, although in a few cases the number evidently rises to 250. In Afghanistan, PRTs are manned predominantly by military personnel, who provide such traditional military services as administration, intelligence, military police, demining, security protection, civil affairs, and logistic support. Also assigned to these PRTs are small contingents of four to eight civilians from the State Department, USAID, and other Federal agencies.
In Iraq, about 2,000 U.S. personnel are assigned to PRTs; at least 50 percent and sometimes up to 75 percent generally are civilians. In Afghanistan, about 1,000 personnel, of who over 90 percent are military, are assigned to PRTs. In both cases, many of these military assignments could be better filled by civilians. Additional civilians are assigned to Embassy staffs in both countries. In Iraq, an Embassy staff of 900, coupled with about the same number of civilians assigned to PRTs, elevates total U.S. Government civilian personnel there to under 2,000. But fewer than 100 civilians assigned to PRTs in Afghanistan means that, even counting U.S. Embassy personnel there, the total U.S. civilian presence in Afghanistan is significantly smaller than in Iraq - a reality that limits the effectiveness of civilian-performed S&R operations there. For both Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of civilians capable of S&R missions is well below the number of civilians assigned to Vietnam, where military personnel were often used to perform civilian functions.
Analysts have questioned whether enough PRTs are present in Iraq and Afghanistan, and whether individual PRTs are large enough to accomplish their S&R goals. The troubled situations in both countries - not only continuing violence but also slow progress toward economic and political reconstruction - suggest that more U.S. civilian personnel would be helpful, especially in Afghanistan.
Particularly in Afghanistan, PRTs are still constituted for military functions and lack the large numbers of civilians needed to perform such duties as building governments, repairing infrastructure, and opening schools. In both countries, PRTs rely heavily on private contractors. Even so, the teams in Iraq and Afghanistan may provide misleading role models for calculating the larger number of civilian U.S. employees required for situations in which emphasis is placed not only on security, but also on development.5 Furthermore, we argue that skill sets should not be confined solely to the PRTs, but that critical ones should also reside in Embassies.
Insights into future civilian requirements for complex operations can be gained from table 2-1, which displays the missions and tasks that military and civilian personnel can be called on to perform in various situations.6 While the table is not exhaustive, it shows that complex operations can involve fully 60 associated tasks in 6 broad mission categories: restore and maintain security, promote effective governance, conduct reconstruction, sustain economic development, support reconciliation, and foster social change. Although mission category 1 is performed by military personnel, mission categories 2 through 6, which include 48 tasks, are mostly best handled by civilian personnel, with the military in support in some cases. Of course, not all of these missions and tasks need be performed with equal fervor in every situation. But taking into account the wide spectrum of situations that can occur, along with the possibility of simultaneous events, the table supports the judgment that civilian preparedness requirements for these missions could be relatively high. This especially is the case because fairly large numbers of civilians could be required for each category and the full set of tasks within it. For example, if each of the 9 tasks of mission category 4 (sustain economic development) requires 100 active/standby trained personnel, the total requirement for that category is 900 personnel. If the same calculation is applied to all 5 civilian categories and their associated 48 tasks, the total requirement is 4,800, or about 5,000 personnel.
This basic methodology of equally allocating civilian personnel requirements among the various mission categories and tasks, of course, is illustrative. A fully developed analysis, especially one used for actual programming, would necessitate a detailed appraisal of manpower needs for each category and task. Final numbers might be lower or higher in each case. For the force-sizing purposes of this chapter, however, what matters is the aggregate total of civilian manpower. An important bottom line is that an active/standby civilian response capacity of 5,000 personnel, if properly distributed, would provide a fairly large pool of trained experts in each category. This sizable, diverse pool, in turn, would help provide the flexibility, adaptability, and modularity to tailor complex operations to the missions and tasks at hand in each case, without concern that the act of responding effectively to one contingency would drain the force of expertise in key areas needed to handle additional contingencies.
An active civilian force of 5,000 personnel, with an internal distribution of 100 specialists for each of the 48 tasks, would provide significantly better performance features than only 2,500 personnel and 50 specialists for each task. Such a force would help ensure that if the 1-1-4 construct must be fully carried out, there will be not only enough civilians in aggregate, but also enough to perform all 48 tasks in each contingency. For example, there would be enough task-specialized civilians to simultaneously perform the full set of tasks for such key missions as promoting effective governance, conducting reconstruction, and sustaining economic development in all contingencies of this construct. In addition, this force could provide valuable flexibility and adaptability for situations in which requirements for individual tasks in one or more contingencies might rise above the norm. That is, extra civilians could be diverted from places where they are not needed to places where they are needed. A smaller force of 2,500 personnel would not provide nearly this amount of flexibility.
In evaluating this judgment, a sense of perspective can be gained by examining how a civilian response capacity of 5,000 active/standby personnel compares to alternative forces of lower and higher numbers. Table 2-2 displays three options. Option 1 is 2,250 personnel; option 2 is 5,000 personnel; option 3 is 7,500 personnel. Compared to option 1, option 2 is better not only because it provides over twice the number of total personnel, but also because it provides more than double the number in each category. The risk of option 1 is that it might be overwhelmed by multiple contingencies that create a higher level of total manpower requirements, or by individual contingencies that could create unusually high demands in one or more categories. By virtue of being larger and better endowed internally, option 2 significantly reduces these risks, while buffering against the additional risk those shortages in civilian manpower could compel unduly high reliance on scarce military forces to perform missions and tasks that are better carried out by trained civilians.
Option 3 is 50 percent larger than option 2, costs 50 percent more, and would be proportionately harder to create and sustain over a long period of time. Compared to option 2, the issue is whether the strategic benefits of option 3 would be commensurate with its higher costs and difficulties. Whereas some observers may argue in favor of option 3 (or even larger forces), economists likely would apply the logic of a curve of diminishing marginal returns to the calculus to determine whether option 2 falls on the knee of the curve - the point at which most strategic benefits have already been attained and the expense of additional assets would not be justified because the marginal payoffs would be relatively smaller. The latter could be the case for civilian response capacity force-sizing if, for example, the probability of each option is being fully needed at any one time decreases as the size of these three options increases. In this event, the "strategic payoff" of option 3 might be only 10 percent higher than option 2, even though option 3 has 50 percent more manpower.
Finally, it is important to note that, if an active/standby civilian response capacity of 5,000 personnel is selected, it does not define the total number of civilian response capacity personnel that would need to be available. Reserve personnel assets would also be needed, especially to provide long-term sustainability by permitting rotation of deployed personnel after their tours of duty are completed and replacement with trained substitutes. The need for such reservists is a key reason why the NDAA called for a Civilian Reserve Corps (CRC) of 2,000 personnel. But are 2,000 reservists enough to execute the missions and tasks outlined above? An answer to this question can be suggested by examining how the U.S. military handles the task of maintaining a large rotational base to back up forces that might be initially deployed to overseas contingencies. Essentially, all three Services seek to have two units of usable reserves for each initially deployable unit - for example, two Army divisions to back up each deployed division to provide long-term sustainability. By following this practice, DOD seeks to have sufficient forces in its rotational base to perform two additional tours of duty in the lengthy period after initially deployed units have completed their tours. As a result, military personnel are called on to perform deployment missions only 1 year out of every 3.
If this logic is applied to the civilian response capacity calculus, it suggests that an active/standby force of 2,500 personnel should be backed up by a reserve force of 4,500 personnel, not 2,000. It further suggests that an active/standby CRC of 5,000 personnel should be backed up by a reserve force of 10,000 personnel. In addition to providing long-term sustainment, a reserve civilian response capacity of this size would provide a valuable surge capability in case the active/standby force becomes overwhelmed by unexpected events, plus additional manpower pools for performing specific missions and tasks that might arise. The key conclusion is that if an active/standby civilian response capacity of 5,000 civilians is created, a backup reserve force of 10,000 personnel would serve more purposes than one.
Civilian Response Capacity Scenarios and Requirements
The future U.S. civilian response capacity will be deemed adequately large only if it can meet manpower requirements for complex operations that might lie ahead. How can these deployment and performance requirements best be gauged? Scenarios - hypothetical contingencies abroad - can help answer this question. As any experienced analyst knows, scenarios cannot be used to predict the future, nor should they bind the United States to specific dictates. Actual contingencies can prove to be very different from the events contemplated by scenarios. But scenarios can help illuminate the broad trends ahead, facilitate sensitivity analysis, and ensure that U.S. policies, plans, and programs are in the right strategic ballpark. By postulating specific contingencies, they also can be used to help gauge overall civilian response capacity manpower requirements and judge how alternative policy options perform in light of these requirements. In essence, they can be employed to generate yardsticks for determining how future civilian response capacity requirements are best satisfied by concrete capabilities.
A 1-1-4 force construct could be used to size the future civilian response capacity and, as argued below, would help affirm S/CRS's requirement for 5,000 active/standby personnel. Using this single-point standard exclusively, however, would be unwise in current circumstances. In the recent past, DOD has been able to use such a standard because the strategic rationale for its existing force posture has been developed and tested for many years, and its current task is mostly limited to making marginal upward or downward changes in force levels. By contrast, the act of shaping the civilian response capacity is plowing entirely new strategic ground, and there is no lengthy backdrop of much-debated theories to help govern the process of deciding. Also important, the surrounding issues are unfamiliar, complex variables are at work, and uncertainties abound. No single-point standard is capable of firmly identifying a fixed civilian response capacity manpower level above which success is ensured, and below which failure is guaranteed. Such a standard would merely endorse one particular theory of requirements in absence of other theories that might show different results, and it would ratify one policy option without showing how it compares to and contrasts with other options. As a result, senior decision makers would be hard pressed to gauge the choices open to them and the soundness of their own judgments.
In the eyes of senior U.S. officials in pursuit of sound judgments, the critical issue is likely to be the confidence level. These officials are likely to ask two interrelated questions: how much confidence and assurance does the United States want to possess in a world of proliferating complex operations and S&R missions, and how much risk is it willing to run? How do alternative levels of civilian response capacity provide different levels of confidence and risk? These important questions can best be addressed not by relying on a single-point theory of scenarios and requirements, but instead by postulating a spectrum of scenarios and requirements ranging from relatively undemanding to quite demanding settings, and then using this spectrum to weigh and balance alternative policy responses in terms of confidence and risk. Such an approach is followed here.
A good place to begin constructing such a wide spectrum is by displaying a range of individual scenarios that might plausibly occur, together with a range of notional civilian response capacity manpower requirements for each case to staff Embassies as well as PRTs. Table 2-3 illuminates how and why, even for individual scenarios, civilian response capacity requirements are a variable, not a constant. In particular, requirements are influenced by two key variables: the size and population of the country in which complex operations are to be mounted, and the nature of security conditions within that country, along with the scope of U.S. goals and missions in dealing with these conditions. As the size of these two variables increases, civilian response capacity requirements grow proportionately. For example, a country of 20 million people would require twice the number of civilian response capacity personnel as would a country of only 10 million people, if all other calculations are equal. That country of 20 million might necessitate 1,000 civilian response capacity personnel if security conditions, goals, and missions yield a requirement for 1 person per 20,000 population. But if security conditions, goals, and missions mandate a larger presence of 1 person per 10,000 population, the civilian response capacity requirement would increase to 2,000.
Another important variable is the presence or absence of coalition partners: as coalition contributions increase, U.S. requirements decrease, and vice versa. Assuming that coalition partners, plus nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), will normally contribute about one-third of total manpower requirements, table 2-3 postulates that the United States will regularly be called on to commit the remaining two-thirds. With this division of labor in mind, table 2-3 displays a spectrum of categories of contingencies, varying from small to very large as a function of the population in each case. Within each category, it displays a likely range of U.S. civilian response capacity manpower requirements - as a function of population levels, security conditions, and U.S. goals and missions - and a midpoint estimate of requirements.
The numbers in table 2-3 should be treated as illustrative rather than definitive, but even so, they impart important strategic messages - one of which is that civilian response capacity manpower requirements for a single contingency can vary significantly. Using midpoint estimates, requirements could range from as few as 450 personnel to as many as 3,350, but could rise to a high of 4,450 in the event a very large contingency occurs in which the United States pursues ambitious goals. Another message is that an active/standby force of 5,000 personnel could handle the entire spectrum of individual contingencies; indeed, it could handle most of them even if coalition partner contributions were less than postulated in table 2-3. By contrast, even assuming a one-third contribution by coalition partners, a smaller force of 2,250 active/standby personnel could meet requirements only for contingencies that are no larger than the midpoint range of the large category. In other words, the United States would possess insufficient civilian response capacity manpower if it becomes involved in a large or very large contingency for which it must pursue ambitious objectives.
The bottom line is that in preparing for a single contingency, the United States will enjoy higher confidence levels, and face fewer risks, if it fully funds and deploys an active/standby force of 5,000 personnel rather than 2,250. The same conclusion applies to a reserve force of 10,000 personnel rather than only 2,000, because it would provide much greater staying power. Assuming funding is allocated and matches the requirements, this force would allow for the launch and sustainment of a surge.
1. See S. 3001, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, Title XVI - Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management.
2. During the 1990s, DOD employed a 2-major-theater-war force-sizing standard, which called for sufficient forces to wage two major concurrent wars in the Persian Gulf and Korea. In 2001, DOD switched to a more flexible 4-2-1 standard that called for sufficient forces to handle daily strategic affairs in four key regions, to rebuff major enemy aggression in two theaters, and to wage decisive operations, including major counterattacks, in one of these theaters. DOD's Quadrennial Defense Review of 2006 put forth a more generic construct, but called for a force posture similar to that mandated by the 4-2-1 construct. See Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review 2006 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2006).
3. For historical data on civilian manpower in Europe and Japan after World War II, see U.S. Department of State Foreign Service List, 1944-1954. The occupations and reconstruction of Germany and Japan were significantly aided by the facts that combat had ended there and, in both countries, the populations were responsive to U.S. leadership in building democratic governments and capitalist economies.
4. See chapter 11, Civilian Surge, for CORDS data and analysis.
5. For analysis, see U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, "Agency Stovepipes vs. Strategic Agility: Lessons We Need to Learn from Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan," April 2008, available at "http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/Reports/PRT_Report.pdf".
6. Table 2-1 is adapted from a presentation by Dr. Robert Scott Moore. Used with permission.
What role should the U.S. Department of State play in efforts to stabilize countries beset by internal crises, conflict, and dysfunctional governance? The question defies a simple response. The risks associated with fragile or failing states vary widely. In cases where state collapse carries with it the specter of insurgency, mass violence, terrorist safe havens or human dislocations, the tasks of paramount importance for the U.S. Government span traditional bureaucratic boundaries.
Like any foreign ministry, the State Department's focus traditionally has been Westphalian - to manage U.S. relationships across sovereign boundaries with other functioning states, be they allies, partners, competitors, or enemies. Yet recent years have witnessed the steady rise of empowered transnational actors - militia groups, terrorist networks, narcotraffickers, pirates, and other criminal enterprises - whose strength and agility may far exceed what weak governments can muster to police their own territories. When American forces toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime in 2001 and Saddam's tyranny in Iraq barely 18 months later, policymakers in Washington did not imagine they would find themselves embroiled in extended irregular warfare campaigns. As history has chronicled, the United States greatly underestimated what it would take to orchestrate successful stabilization and reconstruction (S&R) efforts following the initial phases of these interventions.
From a security perspective, effective state-building is the essential element of any complex operation. Devising effective ways and means to assist in the construction or restoration of governance and all that goes with it - economic opportunity, public welfare, and the rule of law - is vital in any strategy for winning wars, not merely battles. That fact inevitably makes this mission a joint civil-military enterprise - one that soldiers cannot do alone. "We cannot kill or capture our way to victory," observed Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "America's civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically under-funded for far too long." And even if doing the job under fire may not be all that common in the future, Gates added, "What is likely . . . is the need to work with and through local governments to avoid the next insurgency, to rescue the next failing state, or to head off the next humanitarian disaster."1
Turning this essential insight into concerted action is nevertheless a Herculean task. To start with, outdated perceptions need to be tossed aside. Just as military commanders have had to move beyond the notion that irregular warfare is basically about destroying the enemy rather than protecting local communities, diplomats and aid providers must let go of the notion that they can sit safely on the sidelines of conflict until the smoke clears. Indeed, while many observers worry about foreign assistance becoming "militarized," it is not just the instrument but also the environment that is changing. Today's prevalent conflicts have become progressively "civilianized" in terms of the state-building tasks on which a decisive outcome hinges. Thus, mutual effort is required, which raises the obvious, if awkward, question of who leads on the civilian side.
For many, the answer is found in Foggy Bottom. After all, the State Department is like no other institution - it sits at the apex of America's foreign policy apparatus. Its statutory base, Presidential taskings and global writ give it a clear and unquestioned authority to speak for and act on behalf of the United States in any foreign affairs domain. As a candidate, President Barack Obama expressed strong support for the concept of building greater civilian capacity to work alongside the military in complex operations.2 As his administration takes stock of its options, any new initiatives in this area will inevitability be compared to or contrasted with prior transformative efforts. This inevitably puts the spotlight on the State Department: broadly, how well has the department done in boosting civilian capacity to prepare for and conduct S&R missions? What progress or challenges have such efforts encountered, and why? And how might State's role be recalibrated in light of that experience?
Harbingers of Change
In response to state-building shortfalls that have plagued post invasion operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the George W. Bush administration in its second term embarked on a Department of State–centric remedial approach. At the broadest level, the administration's "Transformational Diplomacy" initiative became an umbrella of sorts for the pursuit of departmentally focused capacity-building. Launched by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, its core objective was to realign diplomatic resources away from Western Europe and toward regions of the world facing transnational challenges and, in so doing, strengthen pursuit of U.S. democracy-building objectives and forge closer connections between the State Department and civil society actors in foreign venues.3 A separate, but closely related, initiative was the establishment of a new State Department post, the Director of Foreign Assistance - the so-called "F" office - as a way to improve government-wide coordination of aid programs, but especially to more fully integrate programs managed by bureaus within State and those managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The ultimate goal was to ensure that foreign policy objectives in the areas of security, economic growth, democracy and governance, health, education, and humanitarian assistance would be reflected in programs and funding decisions.
While these two steps are emblematic of the Bush administration's aspirations to realign and better integrate State's capacities, it was actually a third step - the creation of in-house capacity for undertaking S&R missions - that sought to relate the department's larger transformational agenda to more immediate on-the-ground needs. By Presidential directive, the Secretary of State was empowered to "coordinate and lead integrated United States Government efforts, involving all U.S. departments and agencies with relevant capabilities, to prepare, plan for, and conduct S&R activities, and to coordinate efforts with the Department of Defense to ensure harmonization with any planned or on-going U.S. military operations across the spectrum of conflict."4 At State, this task was given to a newly created Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), which reports directly to the Secretary. Its mandate, as defined by the Presidential directive, is to improve "coordination, planning, and implementation for reconstruction and stabilization assistance for foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife."5 This mission also called for steps to ensure overall program and policy coordination and to develop a larger civilian talent pool from which to draw for field expertise across such public service sectors as civil administration and basic services to economic development, the rule of law, and security sector reform.
Any effort to restructure or strengthen the State Department immediately confronts a basic reality: a crowded field. It is hard to find another executive branch institution that has been more buffeted by criticisms, complaints, and calls for reform than State. The recent effort to launch State-centric initiatives into the arena of complex contingencies is only the latest twist in a long-running controversy over how best to recalibrate the department to overcome its own limitations or compensate for weaknesses elsewhere.
Over the past decade, the department's administrative and resource deficiencies have received the lion's share of attention. High-level commissions and study groups have called attention to, inter alia, deficiencies in State's recruitment and personnel management practices, budgeting, facilities and information technology infrastructures, and other administrative incapacities.6 Shining a spotlight on these types of shortfalls is important - and some progress has been made in correcting them - but if the problem of "fixing" State were purely a matter of rectifying management gaps or expanding resources, the path to a solution would be obvious, if not necessarily easy. In fact, the controversy about State's track record arises from two sets of neuralgic, "lightning-rod" issues. The first concerns State's purported inability to balance competing internal priorities, and the second centers on its problems in reaching across bureaucratic boundaries.
The State Department is certainly not alone in its institutional need to balance day-to-day needs against looming challenges, but its penchant for focusing on current diplomatic priorities at the expense of long-range planning has long been a rallying point for its critics. No less a luminary than former Secretary of State Dean Acheson lamented this problem nearly a half-century ago, citing it as one reason for the U.S. Government's belated recognition of the looming threats posed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during the 1930s.7 Similar complaints have been voiced many times since then.
Another balancing-act issue has involved how to navigate between specific geographic perspectives and crosscutting functional priorities. State's natural proclivity has been to place a high premium on the work of its regional bureaus, where policy development and day-to-day diplomacy are orchestrated via the foreign official community in Washington and through American Embassies and diplomatic posts in more than 180 countries. The fate of certain functional specialties - public diplomacy, trade, human rights, law enforcement, arms control, refugee and migration assistance, environmental assistance, and women's issues, to name just a few - has always been contentious. The approach of embedding expertise in separate agencies has led to "who's in charge" criticisms, while merging or (re)aligning such functions back into State has triggered debates over resources and "fit" with State's professional culture.8
In terms of State's interagency reach, the criticisms have been sharp and at times partisan. Without question, the biggest issue has been State's relationship with the White House, in particular its alleged support of, indifference to, or hostility toward a given President's agenda. President Truman berated the department for trying to undermine his support for the creation of Israel.9 President Nixon's animus toward State, which he regarded as disloyal and a source of press leaks, was legendary.10 More recently, in 2003, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich charged that the State Department was engaged in a "deliberate and systematic effort" to undermine President Bush's foreign policy.11 One observer who learned from his own personal experiences - Henry Kissinger - has framed the tension more in institutional terms, citing an inevitable mismatch between State's enormous span of responsibility and a President's inherent need for focus.12
Beyond the White House lies the rest of the interagency community. Here, the refrain has been that State lacks the necessary clout to drive policy formulation or the technical expertise to manage implementation processes, especially on issues where bureaucratic equities overlap. Whether the problem stems more from bargaining dynamics (for example, the need for an impartial arbiter) or institutional character traits (for example, a Foreign Service culture that places a greater premium on artful compromise than forcing hard choices) is open to debate. What is clear, and starkly so, is that State has long climbed a steep hill of skepticism whenever it has found itself attempting to forge unity of effort on contentious issues.
Although some of these criticisms might be dismissed as echoes from the past, they are relevant to assessing State's potential role in complex operations. Without question, each of the lightning-rod issues noted above weighs heavily in this mission area. Having a robust capability for complex operations requires maintaining a judicious balance between oversight of current contingencies and readiness to undertake long-range planning. It also requires a careful blending of functional disciplines, program management, regional expertise, and diplomatic skill. The key tasks at every stage are, perforce, interagency activities, with multiple funding streams and legal authorities, so assertive White House backing is a sine qua non for success.
It is against this background that we take stock of the State Department's efforts with a view to assessing whether current trend-lines, on balance, suggest a reinforced or altered approach to building civilian capacity via State-centric initiatives.
The best measure for State's progress in the S&R domain is found in the office set up for this purpose. After nearly 4 years, S/CRS remains a work in progress. Its size - a staff of nearly 80 - gives it heft by comparison to other offices. But how is it progressing in terms of its mission?
Since its inception, S/CRS's efforts have revolved around five core missions, each of which can be considered a building block of a comprehensive strategy for S&R activity:
S/CRS has achieved some noteworthy progress in each of these areas, as set forth below.
Interagency Planning and Management
On the interagency planning front, S/CRS can fairly claim credit for significant steps forward. From late 2004 through 2005, the office led an interagency effort to validate, expand, and obtain broad support for a Post-Conflict Reconstruction Essential Tasks framework - an endeavor that, as former S/CRS head Ambassador Carlos Pascual observed, helped to create a "common approach and vocabulary between civilians and the military."13 S/CRS led a series of interagency working group discussions to reaffirm and amplify tasks contained in the original framework. That framework was divided into five technical areas, significantly expanded, and reshaped into a three-phased response framework: initial response (short-term), transformation (mid-term), and fostering sustainability (long-term). The goal was to provide a widely agreed menu of issues that should be considered when working in conflict-stricken environments. Completed in late 2005, the Essential Task Matrix has become a foundational element in comprehensive post conflict planning.14
The essential tasks effort aimed at the structure and functions of S&R activities at the field level. A second initiative was developed to forge closer connections between task-driven planning activity and the larger policy formulation and implementation environment. To this end, a U.S. Government Planning Framework for Reconstruction, Stabilization, and Conflict Transformation has been developed to identify the overarching U.S. policy goals to be achieved, as well as the operational objectives foreseen in those goals, the measures of effectiveness to be applied, and the specific activities aimed at achieving each objective.15 This effort was developed in close collaboration with Defense Department components and USAID. S/CRS also reached out to other departments and agencies to participate in strategic planning efforts for S&R operations, including the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and Justice.
Building on these efforts, S/CRS also spearheaded an initiative to elaborate the larger architecture for integrating crisis response efforts across the interagency community. The Interagency Management System (IMS) consists of three interlinked elements: a country reconstruction and stabilization group, an integration planning cell, and an advance civilian team.16 The IMS is a multi-tiered organizational design for country-specific planning and implementation activities not only at the strategic and policy levels in Washington, but also at the operational and tactical levels - an innovation compared to 1990s-era efforts.17
Conflict Assessment and Prevention
The Bush administration's National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 44 mandated that State-centric S&R activity should also focus on states or regions at risk of conflict, leading S/CRS to press into assessment and prevention-related efforts. In 2007, the Conflict Prevention team within S/CRS led an interagency effort, in collaboration with USAID, to develop a methodology and process for assessing international conflict, the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF). The ICAF is a tool for developing shared understanding among the interagency community of several factors:
The ICAF is a useful tool for mapping U.S. Government efforts to address conflict or instability and remedial action by nongovernmental actors. It can assist in setting priorities for the drivers and mitigators with the greatest impact on conflict. The framework can assist in identifying entry points for possible U.S. Government action and formulating recommendations to strategic and operational level planners. In summer 2008, in conjunction with USAID, S/CRS tested the ICAF in two Washington-based application workshops in which a large segment of the interagency participated. S/CRS is now socializing the ICAF with various regional bureaus in the State Department and the geographic combatant commands.
S/CRS first addressed its mandate to invigorate the conflict early warning structure by collaborating with the Intelligence Community to generate and maintain a watch list of countries at risk of destabilizing conflict. In 2008, S/CRS convened the Intelligence and Analysis Working Group with more than 30 members from the interagency, including the Intelligence Community. The group is examining and improving the usefulness of existing conflict early warning tools and integrating them with the analysis, prevention, and response components of S/CRS.
In 2007, in conjunction with U.S. Joint Forces Command, S/CRS conducted a limited objective experiment using a conflict prevention planning approach of its own design. S/CRS is continuing to develop and will test the approach throughout 2009. A key component of the approach intentionally links interagency prevention planning with existing planning and funding streams, such as the F Country Assistance Strategy and the geographic combatant commands' so-called phase zero and theater security cooperation plans.
Training for S&R Operations
Since its inception, S/CRS has placed strong emphasis on providing training for civilians from various U.S. Government departments and agencies in S&R concepts, principles, strategic planning for conflict transformation, and S&R operations. In fiscal year (FY) 2005, S/CRS engaged the Foreign Service Institute as a partner in developing curricula, hiring subject matter experts, and implementing training courses. As of late 2008, S/CRS had conducted 73 courses with 1,638 students in all courses, reaching 656 participants from 2006 through 2008.18
S/CRS has also provided leadership in training to U.S. Government personnel who are being assigned to the U.S. Embassies and USAID missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to civilians, military officers, and contractors who are being deployed to Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to teaching personnel about the organization, mission, and function of PRTs, training focuses on recent political developments in each country, current government leaders, national development plans, cultural factors and context, and U.S. Government programs in country. Current or previous PRT officers are available to share lessons learned. A unique feature of the training for Afghanistan is that civilians from the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Agriculture train and live with their military counterparts for 2 weeks at the U.S. Army post in Fort Bragg, NC, home of the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. The predeployment training provides learning tools and improves key skill sets (such as communication, analysis, flexibility, and teamwork) to ensure success of the PRT. Training is also provided in combat lifesaving skills and hands-on force protection procedures.
Integrated Stabilization Assistance Programs
Since 2005, S/CRS has provided technical assistance consultations to regional bureaus or Embassies in response to specific tasks or requests for assistance. This assistance has consisted of preparing conflict assessments, conducting national and provincial level planning for reconstruction and stabilization programs, and keeping monitoring and reporting metrics. Small teams have been deployed to Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal, and Cuba, among other countries. S/CRS has not been successful in obtaining congressional authorization under the Foreign Assistance Act for a Conflict Response Fund for urgent contingencies, so it did not have program funding to lend to these efforts. But S/CRS provided technical assistance (by deploying staff) to regional bureau offices and/or Embassy country teams to help design or coordinate S&R programs using the bureau's or Embassy's funds.19
DOD, as one of S/CRS's biggest supporters, recognized the need to develop a whole-of-government approach to planning and implementing S&R operations and supported the Bush administration's unsuccessful attempts in FY04 and FY05 to obtain funding under the Foreign Assistance Act for unspecified urgent contingencies. In a welcome initiative, the congressional committees that oversee DOD authorized the transfer of uncommitted DOD operation and maintenance funds to the Department of State. Section 1207, "Security and Stabilization Assistance," of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY06 and FY07 authorized DOD to provide up to $200 million over 2 years for funds, services, and defense articles to State for security, counterterrorism, stabilization, and reconstruction. In addition to promoting a whole-of-government approach to security and S&R, these funds are to be used for urgent contingencies to prevent escalation of conflict, thereby avoiding the need to deploy U.S. military forces.20
In FY06, DOD transferred $10 million to State for a program to support basic and investigative training for the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon and to remove unexploded ordnance along the Israel-Lebanon border. In late FY07, DOD transferred over $99 million to State to reduce gang violence in Haiti; improve governance and security programs at the district level to ensure the rule of law in Nepal; provide small, discrete community-based grants for community mobilization in Colombia; support conflict prevention training and employment opportunities in Yemen; promote security sector reform in Somalia; support rural radio and vocational training in schools in Mali, Mauritania, and Niger to counter Islamic extremism; and strengthen indigenous law enforcement capabilities and eliminate terrorist financing in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
S/CRS assisted Embassy Beirut in determining those Lebanese sectors most in need of funding for the $10 million FY06 effort, sending out a senior officer in the summer of 2006. Similarly, S/CRS developed the parameters and rationale for the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, a $20 million program targeting instability and a lack of governance in Cité Soleil, traditionally one of the most volatile urban areas of Port au Prince. These programs have been cited by congressional staffers as most closely reflecting the type of integrated stabilization assistance project legislators envisioned when writing the 1207 section of the NDAA for FY 06.
During FY08, S/CRS sent representatives to Liberia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Horn of Africa to assist in outlining potential 1207 projects while informing country teams of the nature and purpose of this foreign assistance instrument. At the same time, S/CRS's Office of Conflict Prevention designed, in collaboration with DOD, a more deliberative process for receiving, reviewing, and approving Embassy proposals for 1207 projects. Ultimately, S/CRS, along with officers of USAID, F, OSD, and Joint Staff (J5) reviewed 31 proposals from around the world, eventually approving 7, and requesting the entire $100 million from DOD for these projects. This process, which took place in mid-2008, is chaired by S/CRS, underlining the civilian character of the design and implementation of this authority. Section 1207 of the FY09 NDAA, which was signed into law October 14, 2008, reauthorized the program until September 30, 2009, with an increase in funding up to $150 million.
Building an Expeditionary Talent Pool
S/CRS has devoted significant effort for the past 4 years to developing the concepts for an expeditionary civilian response capacity to support S&R operations. S/CRS has also worked strenuously to obtain interagency support for the concept and obtain approval of a civilian response capacity from the National Security Council. Expeditionary field operations to meet new S&R challenges require additional, and more specialized, personnel than the U.S. Government's existing capacity can provide. Current response teams are limited to security, consular, critical incident response, and humanitarian relief. The current reliance on contractors to fill the gap is also problematic. The solution requires State, USAID, and other agencies to have a sufficient number of dedicated, trained personnel who can deploy rapidly and a management system that can access trained staff from across the interagency community to follow the first responders. To that end, Secretary Rice and President Bush proposed the Civilian Stabilization Initiative, for which the President requested nearly $249 million in his FY09 budget.21 The civilian response capacity would be under the authority of the Secretary of State.
The initiative was based on the need to address three types of concurrent, high-priority missions overseas. The first type would be a small mission involving little to no military presence, or primarily civilian police, with the United States providing support (for example, an S&R mission like Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti). The second would be a medium mission that would involve U.S. military and civilian support to an international peacekeeping mission (such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo). The third would be a large S&R engagement that could include a major military and civilian intervention in a nonpermissive environment, with the United States responsible for executing or supporting a full range of mission components (for example, a mission like Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan).
The initiative would create a government-wide civilian Response Readiness Corps "to provide assistance in support of reconstruction and stabilization operations in countries or regions that are at risk of, in, or are in transition from, conflict or civil strife." The Response Readiness Corps has been authorized as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY09.22 The Response Readiness Corps is composed of active and standby components consisting of U.S. Government personnel, including employees of the Department of State, USAID, and other agencies who are recruited and trained (and employed in the case of the active component) to provide such assistance when deployed to do so by the Secretary. These active and standby components constitute the U.S. Government's internal surge capacity.
In addition, plans are under way to establish an external surge capacity, the Civilian Reserve Corps, which would authorize the Secretary to employ and train individuals who have the skills necessary for carrying out reconstruction and stabilization activities, and who have volunteered for that purpose. The Civilian Reserve Corps would be made up of 2,000 volunteer experts from the private sector and local and state governments.
The FY08 Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental provided S/CRS and USAID with funds to create, train, and equip 100 new members of the active component and 500 standby officers. As of early 2009, Congress was still debating a bill for an additional $75 million for the active and standby components of the Response Readiness Corps. When fully funded, there will be 250 active officers and 2,000 standby officers.23 Funding has not been provided yet to establish the Civilian Reserve Corps.
Assessing the Challenges
How should the foregoing record be assessed? Clearly, S/CRS can fairly claim credit for a number of positive steps. For each of the distinctive areas that S&R capacity comprises - diagnostic assessments, planning, programmatic assistance, training, and the personnel talent pool - there is definite progress to report. But it should also come as no surprise that S/CRS has endured its share of challenges. As with any newly established advocacy office, it has found itself sailing into strong political and bureaucratic headwinds, cast in the role of a "constructive irritant" acting to promote new patterns of collaboration and change. In a pressurized policy environment, that role inevitably generates some degree of uncertainty and acrimony, as offices with overlapping portfolios and resource claims at State and elsewhere adapt to adjustments in organization and procedure.24
Looking broadly, S/CRS has had to wrestle with political, conceptual, bureaucratic, and operational challenges - none of them surprising in light of the circumstances surrounding its establishment, but all nevertheless daunting in terms of the deeper problems they reveal. Let us consider them in order.
The fate of S/CRS is unavoidably tied to U.S. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one sense, that connection has been beneficial to the office's visibility: the S&R mission has become concrete. It is not some contrivance of theorists or policy wonks; Iraq and Afghanistan have made it real. On-the-ground field organizations, most notably Provincial Reconstruction Teams, have become laboratories for innovation in state-building strategies and programs.25 What is more, complaints by U.S. military commanders about having to fill the void in field expertise on the civilian side have definitely helped to focus attention in Congress on the problem.
But along with this reality have come political complications. While U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated how underinvested our country really is in civilian S&R capacity, their sheer size, complexity, and cost have also sucked up enormous amounts of attention, energy, and resources, sometimes to the detriment of systemic reform. Not only have senior American policymakers been distracted by the immediate management demands of these complex operations, but the larger controversy that still swirls around Iraq - as a war of choice - and its tarring effect on the Afghanistan campaign have served to revive Vietnam-era skepticism on the political left regarding the whole concept of counterinsurgency, and on the political right regarding the idea that nation-building, even post-9/11, should ever be a practical aim of U.S. policy.
Politically, these crosscurrents have held S/CRS back. Even with a Republican administration in office, there was trepidation among the organization's loyalists in Congress that strengthening U.S. state-building capacity would tend to draw the country into ill-advised future contingencies. This tendency springs from the premise that interventions like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo are more likely to be the exceptions than the rule in the future, and that just as military commanders sometimes mishandle defense preparedness by preparing to "fight the last war," so too should Americans be careful lest S&R operators waste valuable resources by preparing to "manage the last post-war."26 Closely coupled with this is skepticism that the State Department can ever be "operationalized" - that is, turned into an on-the-ground service provider rather than an instrument of traditional diplomacy. Both reservations have factored into congressional reluctance to agree to flexible, discretionary funding for S&R operations, and to the more ambitious aspects of the Civilian Stabilization Initiative.27
Even as the fortunes of S/CRS are bound, for better or worse, with the Nation's two ongoing, irregular conflicts, State has wrestled with another, more conceptual challenge: how expansive should its S&R portfolio be?
While S/CRS focused its early efforts, understandably, on post conflict scenarios, it has begun to devote more effort to identifying states at risk and refining concepts and tools for mitigating in advance the conditions that might engulf states in conflict. To be sure, this growing emphasis on a preventive, rather than simply responsive, posture is not inconsistent with NSPD-44's charge for State S&R activities, but it also raises the issue of where to draw the line between S&R-focused activities and the much larger universe of foreign assistance aimed at promoting peace and security, good governance, health and education, economic growth, and stability. This in turn puts S/CRS into a no-win situation. Efforts to draw that line predictably have been viewed by some functional offices in State and USAID as usurping their core functions, while not drawing the line opens up S/CRS to the criticism that it is trying to be everything to everyone - with the attendant risk that if tries to do everything well, it will end up doing nothing well.
While figuring out the place of conflict prevention within the S&R portfolio has generated its share of problems, the Presidential injunction that S/CRS develop "detailed contingency plans" for integrated efforts has raised the question of where, geographically, the office should focus its attention. Providing support for current operations has not been a problem. Indeed, S/CRS has played a helpful role in providing experts for assessments and other analytic support for organizations already in the field. The harder question has been where to shine the spotlight for possible future operations.
Absent any immediate requirement to generate plans for major new contingencies, S/CRS's initial focus has been on building the architecture for an interagency system that would conduct such planning. The resulting IMS framework gives a prominent place to regional perspectives. Thus, the central coordinating mechanism for orchestrating the planning effort would be a country-focused S&R group based in Washington. A regional assistant secretary would co-chair the proceedings with the coordinator of S/CRS. Members of the Response Readiness Corps (active and standby) would constitute the field presence in-country, operating under Chief of Mission authority.
Despite these attributes, the IMS has run into strong headwinds from State's regional bureaus. It has yet to be used, even for small-scale contingencies. Its size and scope have made regional offices reluctant to pull the trigger. IMS language hints at this problem by acknowledging that standing up a new, country-specific group for S&R must take account of political sensitivity surrounding "prospective interventions," and that steps should be taken to help mitigate potential implications arising from public knowledge of the effort - steps that could include tracking the process in a lower profile manner.28 For the affected regional bureaus, the lowest profile may be to ensure the process is not activated at all. Ironically, in its effort to be collaborative, S/CRS has required regional bureau representatives from State and USAID to participate in an extraordinarily large number of working groups, meetings, discussions, and even a Government Accountability Office audit, as S/CRS was busy developing its concepts, tools, planning methodologies, and civilian capacity-building initiatives. This requirement has triggered complaints about the distracting effect that S/CRS has had on the bureaus' day-to-day work in specific countries or regions.
Such problems indicate something deeper than garden-variety, bureaucratic turf battles. The onset of a foreign crisis that carries with it the specter of violence on a scale sufficient to engage the United States invariably triggers two different types of bureaucratic activities: the first focuses on crisis management, conducted mainly by senior policymakers and regionally focused diplomats, the aim of which is to contain or defuse an explosive situation; the second activity is contingency planning, orchestrated mainly by functional specialists operating at mid-levels, which aims to manage the consequences of a rapidly unfolding situation by developing response options that address foreseeable needs, advance core U.S. goals, and minimize the risk of unintended effects. Ideally, these two activities should be complementary; in the real world, tensions arise that can delay or complicate a coherent U.S. response.
Crisis managers tend to operate in an exclusive manner. Their inner circle typically is kept very small. This is hardly surprising, for the messages they seek to convey to foreign interlocutors must be carefully targeted and untainted by "noise" within the bureaucracy. Unauthorized leaks of information could embroil delicate mediation between hostile parties whose forbearance is being sought. In some cases, knowledge that preparations are under way to cope with failure could trigger the very explosion that crisis managers are trying to stave off. For contingency planners, however, this exclusivity poses a problem. Holistic planning is by definition inclusive. Any office or component with legal authority and resources needs to be at the table. Personnel staging for deployment need to be prepared for their tasks. Funding allocations or resource mobilization more generally may require affirmative congressional action.
Given these natural bureaucratic asymmetries, it is not surprising that those who shoulder the S&R portfolio would encounter inhibitions on gaining support for the orchestration of major planning activity. The question - as yet unaddressed - is how to bring these two functions more nearly into sync.
Developing the operational capability of S/CRS has been most problematic, due to a lack of resources, high-level commitment, authority, and funding, deficiencies that have prevented S/CRS from testing practically every concept it has developed in the last 4 years. The biggest remaining challenge is to take those concepts and make them operational.
Civilian response system concepts are more fully developed at the strategic level (for example, the Washington-based, country-specific S&R group). At the tactical level - such as in the affected countries - the response mechanisms are also clear. The forward-based teams would be composed of active or standby officers who are hired into the Response Readiness Corps as part of the Civilian Stabilization Initiative. Advance Civilian Teams and Forward Advance Civilian Teams would be first responders.
Other operational concepts in the IMS are much less fully developed. It is not yet clear how the Response Readiness Corps concepts will be integrated into military planning efforts. Small teams of civilians are supposed to be collocated and integrated at the geographic combatant commands during the contingency planning phase for several months as integrated planning cells (IPCs). After the planning phase, the entire IPC team or several of its members would deploy into the affected country. This concept has not been fully developed or tested.
Some critics, particularly in DOD, contend that a permanent civilian presence of a sufficiently robust size, with particular regional expertise and authority to bring resources to the table, is needed in the combatant commands. A temporary IPC team that "parachutes" into the command for a single contingency effort is not sufficient to fully integrate short- or long-term civilian and military planning and operations. Another operational challenge is the need for agencies to "ramp up" efforts to hire, train, and develop deployment mechanisms for the officers (current and projected) who will be hired as part of the Response Readiness Corps over the next several years. Plans for this expansion are still being developed.
1. Robert Gates, remarks before the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, July 15, 2008, available at "www.defenselink.mil/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1262".
2. See, for example, remarks by Barack Obama, August 1, 2007, available at "www.barackobama.com/pdf/Defense_Fact_Sheet_FINAL.pdf".
3. See, most recently, Condoleezza Rice, "Remarks on Transformational Diplomacy," Georgetown University, February 12, 2008, available at "www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2008/02/100703.htm".
4. National Security Presidential Directive 44, "Management of Interagency Efforts Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization," The White House, Washington, DC, December 7, 2005.
6. See, most recently, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Henry L. Stimson Center, "A Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future: Fixing the Crisis in Diplomatic Readiness," October 2008, available at "www.academyofdiplomacy.org/publications/FAB_report_2008.pdf". In the recent past, see U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century (The Hart-Rudman Commission), Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change: Phase III Report, January 31, 2001, 52–56, available at "http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/nssg/PhaseIIIFR.pdf"; and Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Independent Task Force on State Department Reform, State Department Reform (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001), 7–10. See also Cindy Williams and Gordon Adams, Strengthening Statecraft and Security: Reforming U.S. Planning and Resource Allocation, MIT Security Studies Program Occasional Paper, June 2008.
7. Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969), 39. Acheson attributed to State during his tenure a "basic weakness" that reflects a more general characterization of the American personality offered by Townsend Hoopes: "Our difficulty is that as a nation of short-term pragmatists accustomed to dealing with the future only when it has become the present, we find it hard to regard future trends as serious realities." For more recent criticisms of the U.S. Government, see Aaron Friedberg, "Strengthening U.S. Strategic Planning," The Washington Quarterly 31, no. 1 (Winter 2007/2008), 47–60.
8. Road Map for National Security, 53
9. See Richard Holbrooke, "Washington's Battle over Israel's Birth," The Washington Post, May 7, 2008, A21.
10. While Nixon may have been an extreme case, long-time observers noted a Cold War–era tendency for Democratic administrations to see the department as hide-bound and unprogressive, while Republican Presidents viewed State as a bastion for liberals and left-wingers. See Duncan L. Clarke, "Why State Can't Lead," Foreign Policy 66 (Spring 1987), 130.
11. Newt Gingrich, "Rogue State Department," Foreign Policy 137 (July-August 2003).
12. Thus, wrote Kissinger, State's vast domain "places the Secretary at a bureaucratic disadvantage. Inevitably, he must grapple with many mundane or highly technical subjects. . . . There is always the risk that the Secretary of State begins either to bore the President with arcane problems that require urgent Presidential decision, or to appear to him like some special pleader." Henry Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1982), 433.
13. Carlos Pascual, "Building Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction," Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, January 29, 2008. S/CRS's post conflict reconstruction framework has been based on the pioneering efforts of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Association of the U.S. Army. See Robert C. Orr (ed.), Winning the Peace: An American Strategy for Post Conflict Reconstruction (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2004).
14. Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, "Post Conflict Reconstruction Essential Tasks," April 1, 2005, available at "www.state.gov/s/crs/rls/52959.htm".
15. The draft framework was published as a joint S/CRS and U.S. Joint Forces Command publication, "U.S. Government Draft Planning Framework for Reconstruction, Stabilization, and Conflict Transformation," USJFCOM J7 Pamphlet 1.0., December 2005, available at "www.dtic.mil/doctrine/training/crs_pam051205.pdf". Since then, S/CRS has worked on defining Principles for the Planning Framework as well as a Practitioner's Guide.
16. A more detailed description of the Interagency Management System is available at "www.state.gov/s/crs/rls/rm/94379.htm".
17. For an overview, see John E. Herbst, "Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations," testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, February 26, 2008, available at "http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/OITUTC022608/Herbst_Testimony022608.pdf".
18. Listing and description of courses may be found at "www.crs.state.gov".
19. A useful S/CRS map of worldwide deployments is available at "www.crs.state.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=public.display&shortcut=4AN5".
20. Robert M. Perito, "Integrated Security Assistance - The 1207 Program," USIP Special Report 207 (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, July 2008).
21. Condoleezza Rice, "Remarks at the Civilian Response Corps Rollout," U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, July 16, 2008, available at "www.state.gov/secretary/ rm/2008/07/107083.htm".
22. P.L. 110–417, Title XVI of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2009, "Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008."
23. The recommended composition of expertise to be embedded in the active and standby components of the Response Readiness Corps includes: S&R Planning & Operations Management (primarily State and USAID): core personnel to do assessments, set up base/operations, planning, program design, military liaison, and local engagement; Criminal Justice (primarily State, USAID, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security): police, legal, judicial, and corrections personnel to assess, plan, and start up full-spectrum criminal justice operations and development; Economic Recovery (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, and USAID): specialists in agriculture, rural development, commerce, tax systems, monetary policy, business services to help stand up economic recovery programs; Essential Service (USAID and Department of Health and Human Services): experts in public health, infrastructure, education, and labor to establish or reestablish essential public services; Diplomatic Security (State): agents to serve as Regional Security Officers and security planners; Diplomacy and Governance (State and USAID): addressing rule of law, human rights, humanitarian protection, governance and democracy, conflict mitigation, civil society and media development, and security sector reform to set up these programs in a crisis environment.
24. For background and perspectives on State's S&R activities, the authors are grateful for the insights of a number of staff officers and officials at S/CRS, as well as the State Department's Policy Planning Office and other components in the State Department, USAID, Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, who agreed to be interviewed for this project during June-July 2008.
25. For a good example, see Michelle Parker, Programming Development Funds to Support a Counterinsurgency: Nangarhar, Afghanistan, 2006, Defense and Technology Paper 53 (Washington, DC: Center for Technology and National Security Policy, September 2008).
26. We are indebted to Gordon Adams of American University for this observation.
27. For a good review of the issues, see Nina Serafino and Martin Weiss, "Peacekeeping/Stabilization and Conflict Transitions: Background and Congressional Action on the Civilian Response/Reserve Corps and other Civilian Stabilization and Reconstruction Capabilities," Report RL32862 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, September 18, 2008).
28. Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, "Interagency Management System for Reconstruction and Stabilization" (Unclassified), January 22, 2007, 9.
While interagency cooperation is important at the strategic and operational levels, it is at the tactical level that it becomes essential to the success of an operation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recognized these findings in a December 2006 report: "It is in the embassies rather than in Washington where interagency differences on strategies, tactics and division of labor are increasingly adjudicated."1 As this chapter will illuminate, most efforts at interagency collaboration on the ground have taken place within the confines of a military structure.
This chapter examines civil-military integration in the field under a range of circumstances. The first section looks at daily, ongoing, interagency cooperation at Embassies and geographic commands. Within geographic commands, closer examination is given to Joint Interagency Coordination Groups (JIACGs), advisory groups with varying degrees of interagency representation on combatant command (COCOM) staffs. U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) have taken the JIACG concept further by organizing their commands in a new way that integrates the interagency into regional command activities.
The second section discusses interagency cooperation in complex operations using three vastly different examples: Vietnam's Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program; Afghanistan and Iraq's Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs); and the 2004 tsunami humanitarian relief operations. The third section assesses the nature of civil-military leadership during various complex contingencies. The fourth section presents options for improving civil-military integration. The conclusion offers suggestions for strengthening civil-military integration in the field and presents findings that, if implemented, would create a far greater on-the-ground civilian presence than currently exists - a civilian presence that is independent of COCOM structures.
Interagency Cooperation on a Daily Basis
Embassies and Country Teams
The Embassy and country team is the oldest example of integration. "All embassies are interagency platforms,"2 with the country team being "the critical intersection where plans, policies, programs, and personalities all come together."3 As the scope and scale of representation from other Federal components grow steadily at Embassies all over the world, so too does the importance of integrated efforts. Since 9/11, Embassies have hosted an influx of personnel involved in counterterrorism activities. Concomitantly, the number of Department of Defense (DOD) personnel and noncombat activities has increased significantly.4 In some large Embassies, Department of State representation relative to other Federal agencies can be less than one-third of full-time U.S. personnel. While most of the increases have come from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, 27 U.S. departments and agencies are represented at overseas Embassies.5
Country teams, in which Federal representatives at the country level meet under the leadership of the Ambassador, have limited capabilities and generally do not address issues at the regional level. Also, no amount of asserting the Ambassador's authority, whether by Presidential decree or memorandum of understanding, has been able to overcome conflicting agency agendas, resources, and authorities. The Ambassador has little influence over the non-foreign affairs agencies represented at an Embassy, which take their direction from their headquarters in Washington - and sometimes that direction conflicts with the Ambassador's vision. In a recent study advocating the creation of "frontline country teams," the authors stress that the success of the country team depends on enhancing the Ambassador's authority.6
Nonetheless, the country team can serve as a clearinghouse for information-sharing and program de-confliction, as can the geographic commands, where interagency presence is expanding.
Joint Interagency Coordination Groups and Regional Commands
All regional commands have a JIACG or JIACG-like capability embedded in their staff structures.7 What initially started as an urgent post-9/11 need for interagency coordination on counterterrorism issues has since evolved into varying capabilities, depending on the needs of the command, including full-spectrum interagency coordination.
JIACGs are advisory staff elements with varying degrees of interagency representation on COCOM staff designed to meet the specific needs and organizational structures of the command. It should be noted that these JIACGs do not have operational authority. Ambassadors and country teams have no direct relationships with JIACGs.8 Briefly:
The creation of USAFRICOM and expansion of USSOUTHCOM's interagency composition (both of which are discussed in more detail below) represent a growing recognition that many U.S. national security priorities are transnational in nature and are best addressed within a regional, multiagency approach. A 3D security framework recognizes diplomacy, development, and defense as equal pillars in the implementation of national security policy.11 Phase zero operations, which focus on preventing conflict and addressing the root causes of insecurity, require a concerted, whole-of-government, 3D approach. Existing national security structures do not accommodate a broad regional approach. The 2008 National Defense Strategy states, "A whole-of-government approach is only possible when every government department and agency understands the core competencies, roles, mission, and capabilities of its partners and works together to achieve common goals," and points to USAFRICOM and USSOUTHCOM as moves in the right direction.12
The reach of country teams in Embassies is limited to individual nations. While COCOM areas of responsibility encompass entire regions, those organizations are military and, until recently, did not have interagency components. Attempts to increasingly involve interagency components at COCOMs represent a regionalization of the country team concept. However, no amount of interagency cooperation at the COCOM level can overcome the following facts:
There seems to be general agreement that an integrated whole-of-government approach is needed to effectively implement U.S. policies and plans during complex operations. Agreement is lacking over the best way to organize government assets in both peace and conflict.
The command, formally established October 1, 2008, came about in response to the evolving geostrategic environment in Africa and a defense strategy that focuses on conflict prevention, or phase zero operations.13 Combining a geographic area that formerly was divided among three geographic commands (USEUCOM, USCENTCOM, and USPACOM), USAFRICOM has the advantage of starting with a clean slate and has established a command structure that fully integrates civilian and military staffs. Sometimes referred to as a "combatant command plus,"14 USAFRICOM has dispensed with the J-codes common to other unified commands, organizing itself instead across six categories that are focused more broadly and that integrate interagency leadership and representation:15
Senior positions from USAID and the Departments of State, Treasury, Homeland Security, and Commerce have been approved. Representation from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy is pending. Less senior positions will be determined by the civilian agencies.16
The primary focus of the command remains military-to-military relations with African partners. The command treats the region as a whole rather than applying the single country framework of Embassies. USAFRICOM will also support U.S. Government agencies and international organizations that have activities in the region, working on a "sustained basis to build capacity, support the humanitarian assistance efforts of USAID and others, working with our African partners to get ahead of the problem set to head off impending crises if necessary, or to respond as necessary."17
DOD has not escaped the controversy. Some, including Africans, other U.S. agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), assert that the creation of USAFRICOM is an example of the militarization of U.S. foreign aid.18 Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller, Deputy for Military Operations at USAFRICOM, has addressed this criticism, reiterating that DOD would be playing a supporting role to the activities of other U.S. agencies and international organizations and focusing on security sector reform that builds local capacity.19 In spite of the criticism, it is also widely acknowledged that USAFRICOM represents a positive development for U.S. Africa policy, drawing additional resources and attention to the region.20
To underscore the importance of working with interagency partners, from the outset, USAFRICOM created a new organizational structure, establishing two deputies to the commander: a military deputy (Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations) and a new civilian deputy (Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities). A foreign policy advisor still reports separately to the commander. Another new command element calls for a senior development advisor, a position specifically envisioned for a senior officer from USAID who will report directly to the new civilian deputy. When fully staffed, the command will have approximately equal numbers of uniformed personnel and civilians, with a large component of the civilians being from DOD.
Another feature that will set USAFRICOM apart from other commands is that it will not have assigned or allocated forces, relying instead on the global force management process. The decision was made to stand up USAFRICOM under the new National Security Personnel System, which forced the command to think in concrete terms about the kinds of skills its personnel needed. Having to familiarize themselves with the civilian personnel system, including training, professional development, and recruitment, has been challenging for the military component of the command but has served to unify military and civilians. Most notably, all employees from other U.S. Government agencies will be dual-hatted as DOD employees, allowing them the same benefits enjoyed by DOD personnel.21 The ongoing issue of the limited capacity of other U.S. Government agencies to divert their personnel to these missions remains a significant problem.22
Although USAFRICOM will be headquartered at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, consideration is being given to options for representation on the African continent, including the expansion of military representation in Embassies. The initial reaction to locating the command on the continent has been negative. Both domestic and international criticism has centered on the perception that moving the command to Africa is part of a larger goal to establish a U.S. military foothold on the continent, despite DOD assurances that the intent is to establish a staff headquarters and not a military one. African countries' concerns range from having a foreign military presence within their borders to an American presence emboldening domestic terrorist groups.23
Finally, USAFRICOM is set to build upon the experiences of the only forward U.S. military presence in the region, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), located in Djibouti. CJTF-HOA was established in October 2002 to detect, deter, and defeat transnational terrorist groups in the region. Its approximately 1,500 civilian and military personnel, however, work on a range of activities from counterterrorism to humanitarian assistance. CJTF-HOA has supported 11 humanitarian missions, such as airlifting supplies to Ethiopia and Kenya, and many civil-military operations that involve digging wells and building and repairing schools, hospitals, and roads. CJTF-HOA is an example of an ongoing regional phase zero operation.24
USSOUTHCOM is responsible for U.S. military efforts in Central and South America. Like USAFRICOM, its focus is on operations that are not combat-related, including counternarcotics and Plan Colombia. Unlike USAFRICOM, USSOUTHCOM is a mature command that is undergoing a transformation toward a joint and interagency operation,25 although it has a long history of working within the interagency community.26 Like USAFRICOM, it has abandoned J-coding in favor of staff structures that integrate individuals from other U.S. departments and agencies into the command, and it is in the process of reorganizing to accommodate dual deputies to the commander, adding a civilian deputy from the Department of State. Civilians will head the Stability Directorate, the Partnering Directorate (formerly the JIACG), and the Resources and Assessment and Enterprise Support sections; the Security and Intelligence Directorate and the Policy and Strategy Directorate will be led by military officers. Where civilians lead a directorate, the deputy will be a military officer and vice versa.27 Once the reconfiguration is fully implemented, no military staff growth is foreseen; civilian staff growth will depend on agency decisions.
Approximately 35 interagency personnel are currently embedded in USSOUTHCOM staff, including those from USAID, the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community.28 Interagency interaction takes the form of coordination group meetings, which are convened to address regional topics of shared interest to the interagency community (such as hostage situations, support and operation of migrant camps, and hurricane relief operations, to name a few).29
Within USSOUTHCOM, Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South) is an example of an interagency, joint, international task force working to address a specific, regional issue, drug interdiction.30 Coordinating the operations of eight U.S. agencies, the four U.S. military services and representatives from 11 foreign countries, JIATF-South, based in Key West, Florida, may be a model of integration. The fight against illegal cocaine in Latin America requires coordinated interagency efforts to interdict the flow of drugs across many boundaries and terrains (land, sea, air) in the region. Coca plants are grown and cocaine is produced in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, known as the "source zone." The "transit zone" includes every country between the source zone and the United States.
Interagency Cooperation in Complex Operations
Three models of interagency cooperation are discussed in this section. The CORDS program in Vietnam is the most complex and intense example of civil-military cooperation in the field to date. The PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq attempted to emulate the CORDS program in some respects, but comparisons show that the two actually have little in common. Finally, a discussion of the 2004 tsunami relief operation highlights civil-military coordination during a humanitarian response to a regional problem.
Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support Program
The challenges to civil-military coordination are not new. The CORDS program in Vietnam was an innovative effort to integrate interagency programs and conduct nation-building in a theater of war. There has been no structured solution for civil-military integration during conflict at the country level since that time.31 CORDS was preceded by the unsuccessful Strategic Hamlets Program, designed to deploy USAID, the United States Information Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and military advisors into the provinces of South Vietnam. These agencies worked at cross-purposes, despite President John F. Kennedy's intervention.32 CORDS, on the other hand, brought together over 2,500 military and civilian U.S. advisors, unified under a civilian deputy to the commander of the military assistance command, and is cited as a model for today's interagency challenges.
However, using CORDS as a model misses several fundamental points. The implementation of CORDS, after other failed attempts at asserting civilian control over the Vietnamese pacification mission, represented a massive change to the U.S. organizational and operational approach to the Vietnam War. A change of this magnitude was possible because of President Lyndon Johnson's full support. The comprehensive nature and massive scale of the effort were products of the circumstances and constraints of the time: it came late in the day, after costly U.S. military intervention, with time constraints uppermost in U.S. policymakers' minds.33 CORDS was a last-ditch effort to turn the tide by building a counterinsurgency organization that worked alongside local security forces. Particularly important to CORDS success was the fact that the South Vietnamese provided a significant security component, an element that has not been matched in either Afghanistan or Iraq.34 The Vietnamese-to-U.S. advisor ratio, even at the peak of American involvement, was over 100:1.35
The architect of the organization, Ambassador Robert Komer, described CORDS as:
a unique experiment in a unified civil/military field advisory and support organization . . . [where] soldiers served directly under civilians, and vice versa, at all levels. They even wrote each other's efficiency reports . . . and CORDS was fully integrated into the theater military structure. The Deputy for CORDS . . . [was] perhaps the first American of ambassadorial rank to serve directly in the military chain of command as an operational deputy, not just a political advisor. The cutting edge was unified civil-military advisory teams in all 250 districts and 44 provinces.36
Even so, during a lessons learned conference after the war, Ambassador Komer observed that "the military operated, and, I might add, also the civilians, on the basis of their own internal goals, rather than in terms of any concept of overall national, as opposed to parochial service requirements."37 That problem still exists today.
Provincial Reconstruction Teams
PRTs are America's newest model of civil-military integration, designed from the onset as 3D interagency organizations, operating by consensus rather than clear military or civilian leadership. The first PRT was stood up in 2002 in Afghanistan, where 15 different nations now run 26 PRTs. The first PRT went to Iraq in 2005.38 As of March 2008, 24 PRTs operated in Iraq's 18 provinces.39
Afghanistan. Of the 26 PRTs in Afghanistan, the United States leads 12; International Security Assistance Force coalition partners lead the other 14.40 The size and composition of PRTs vary. In Afghanistan, U.S.-led PRTs typically consist of 50-100 personnel, of which only a handful are U.S. Government civilians or contractors. An Air Force lieutenant colonel or Navy commander heads the U.S-led PRT but does not command the non-DOD civilians. In addition, U.S.-led PRTs have two Army civil affairs teams and typically include a military police unit, a psychological operations unit, an explosive ordnance/demining unit, an intelligence team, medics, a force protection unit, and administrative and support personnel. An Afghan representing the Ministry of the Interior may also be part of the team.41
Iraq. In Iraq, there are two types of U.S.-led PRTs: 11 "original" PRTs and 13 "embedded" PRTs, which, unlike the original PRTs, are embedded in brigade or regimental combat teams. In addition to PRTs, other kinds of units do similar work, including Provincial Security Teams and Regional Reconstruction Teams. Coalition members Britain, Italy, and the Republic of Korea each lead a PRT. Unlike those in Afghanistan, Department of State personnel lead the Iraq teams. Civilians (including many contractors) staff the original PRTs. Security for the original PRTs is provided by either a contracted personnel security detail or a military movement team from a nearby unit. The original PRTs may have as many as 100 team members, including personnel from the Departments of State, Agriculture, and Justice; Multi-National Force-Iraq; the Gulf Region Division of the Army Corps of Engineers; USAID contractors; and locally employed Iraqi staff. These PRTs are located on forward operating bases.42
The subject of PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq has been thoroughly covered by others;43 the intent here is to focus on some lessons learned. These can be summed up as "no doctrine, no training, no people, and no money."44 The organization and operations of the PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq are different, but they share many problems - and those problems reside within the U.S. Government, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. A House Armed Services Committee report and the PRT Lessons Learned Workshop identified the following examples as challenges facing PRTs across the board:45
The lack of ownership of PRTs, identified at the PRT Lessons Learned Workshop as the core problem,46 means that no agency or institution is responsible for providing the capability for stability and reconstruction support in situations where there has been a failure of governance. By extension, no one agency is responsible for providing trained personnel and equipment, and there is no doctrine or commonly accepted conceptual model for how this capability should be integrated across the interagency and within the host country. Remarkably, Ambassador Komer identified the lack of a single department charged with counterinsurgency as the most important factor in the failure to carry out a pacification program on a scale commensurate with the need: "[Counterinsurgency] was everybody's business and nobody's, because there was no vested interest, no great department charged precisely with this function."47
Current PRT organizations are ad hoc, personality-driven operations succeeding in spite of themselves because talented, dedicated individuals are working creatively to solve myriad problems. These are fortuitous tactical successes rather than planned strategic ones.
The House Armed Services Committee report notes that, after 5 years' experience with PRTs, there is no way to discern when they will have fulfilled their mission and will no longer be needed.48 How will PRTs transition as security conditions and our military posture change?
Comparing CORDS and PRTs
Beyond the fact that both CORDS and PRTs are combined interagency elements with an embedded security component, the two types of organization have very little in common. CORDS was embedded in a large military headquarters responsible for an entire country. The unity of planning and effort extended to the province, village, and even hamlet level of CORDS and its South Vietnamese counterpart structure. Perhaps the most notable difference between CORDS in Vietnam and our current efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is the scope and size of the CORDS mission as compared to the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly in terms of the civilian commitment.
Humanitarian Crises - Tsunami Relief
The ability to respond successfully to humanitarian disasters requires coordinated interagency surge and organizational capacity. The 2004 tsunami that affected six countries in Southeast Asia (India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) is a case in point. With no regional interagency infrastructure in place, the U.S. Government had to create a series of ad hoc organizations to confront and coordinate the problems suffered by several nations.49 Still, the response to tsunami relief was successful due to several factors. First, it was a disaster of rapid onset, the extent of the destruction was readily apparent, and the decision to intervene was made quickly, resulting in an overwhelming international response. When the onset of a disaster is slower, assessment of the problem and the decision to intervene can take time. In addition, while the 2004 tsunami had a big impact over a wide region, the effects were contained to areas along the coastline. Finally, with the enormous outpouring of money, funding was not an issue for relief agencies. As a result, NGOs that might have requested funding from United Nations (UN) agencies or USAID raised funds elsewhere, and their coordination with these agencies was thus voluntary.50
The important role of the U.S. Navy in the tsunami relief effort, particularly in flight support and medical assistance, is widely recognized, although it was downplayed by USPACOM. Within hours of the crisis, USPACOM dispatched assets ranging from carrier strike groups to water purification ships to aircraft to provide emergency support. The USPACOM commander issued a directive spelling out that its role was as a supporting element to the general relief effort. USAID characterized the interagency cooperation as a "comfortable set up where everyone was doing what they do best - the military was not making the humanitarian decisions."51
The most significant aspect of the U.S. military support was the availability of almost 60 helicopters, which shuttled relief supplies, including fresh water, from U.S. ships and other staging areas to towns and villages.52 In addition to the delivery of relief supplies, the military participated in search and rescue missions, evacuated the injured, and provided military forensic teams and preventive medicine units.
Although DOD played down its role in the tsunami relief, its most valuable contribution was its unique capabilities in command, control, and communications and in coordination. These capabilities, critical in wartime, proved equally vital in ensuring an effective, coordinated response. Within 2 days of the disaster, USPACOM had established a joint task force - Combined Support Force 536 (CSF 536) - to coordinate and conduct humanitarian assistance. CSF 536 collaborated closely with U.S. Embassies and USAID field teams, including deployed USAID Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs). The Combined Coordination Center (CCC) at Utapao, Thailand, became the hub of international relief coordination; liaison officers from Britain, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia, USAID DART officials, a civil-military coordination cell, and a local representative from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs met several times per day to coordinate efforts among their respective organizations. This provided an essential element of on-scene coordination that helped to avoid duplication of effort and facilitated accurate assessments of the extent of the damage and identification of the areas most in need of assistance. The CCC also helped facilitate the efforts of the international "Core Group" (Australia, Canada, India, Japan, United States, and others) that was established to coordinate the first stages of the international relief effort, identify and fill gaps, and avoid or break logistical bottlenecks, until the United Nations was able to mobilize and play a more central role in the relief response.53
At the country level, to support the multination, multi-organization relief effort more effectively, CSF 536 established Combined Support Groups (CSGs) in each of the affected countries, headed by one-star officers, to coordinate with local agencies and NGOs as well as with U.S. DART teams. The CSGs played an important role in coordinating local public health relief efforts.54 The CSGs essentially filled an organizational gap, providing the framework and managerial skills that were the foundation for both the local government and the broader relief efforts. Under Secretary of State Alan Larson underscored USPACOM's on-scene efforts, noting "the remarkable things they accomplished to establish the logistical backbone for the entire relief operation and to facilitate the work of the United Nations, NGOs, and other donors."55
The U.S. military filled the organizational need for a coordinating structure at the tactical level. The response to the tsunami disaster highlights the inadequacy of Embassies to take on a coordinating role of the magnitude and breadth required for a regional disaster. While the U.S. Embassies in the affected countries held daily country team meetings to assess logistics requirements for their specific country,56 the tactical organization, coordination, and implementation of assistance was led by the only organization that had the capability to do so at a regional level - USPACOM.
DOD has been working on the incorporation of non-kinetic operations and all that they entail for many years. Those efforts and the terminology used to describe them have evolved to include military operations other than war; stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR); and humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.
A phasing model forms the core of joint warfighting doctrine and is used to help commanders and staffs to visualize and think through an operation and to define requirements in terms of forces, resources, time, space, and purpose. The actual number of phases used will vary (they may be compressed, expanded, or omitted entirely) from operation to operation and will be determined by the commander.
Only in 2006 did the core document establishing the joint warfighting doctrine expand the phasing model to six phases - zero (shape), one (deter), two (seize the initiative), three (dominate), four (stabilize), and five (enable civil authority) - and establish a "stability operations" construct and military support to SSTR.57
So-called command leads for each of the six phases seem clear in theory: phases zero (shape), one (deter), and five (enable civil authority) would appear to be the purview of civilian authorities, where diplomacy and aid theoretically are the main focus of an operation. Phases two (seize the initiative) and three (dominate) would imply a military lead. Phase four (stability) would involve a transition from military to civilian leadership and focus. In practice, the civilian/military focus and leadership during the various operational phases have worked differently.
These differences are not confined to phase four operations, where some ambiguity might be expected during a transition from military to civilian lead. As discussed earlier, the establishment of USAFRICOM suggests a regional military lead during phases zero, one, and five, especially given its mission, which is solely focused on soft power. USSOUTHCOM, which is modeling itself after USAFRICOM, is also undertaking more soft power missions. By contrast, the country teams in the regions covered by the work of USAFRICOM and USSOUTHCOM are at best equals with their military counterparts, not unequivocal leads. The civilians lack a regional equivalent to COCOMs in the field.
Similarly, phase four stability operations are meant to be civilian-led. The PRT experiences in both Afghanistan and Iraq indicate otherwise. While the nominal heads of U.S.-led PRTs in Afghanistan are military officers and the nominal heads of U.S.-led PRTs in Iraq are Foreign Service Officers, in reality, the lead belongs to the person representing the agency with the resources. Leadership is de facto determined by the goals of a particular PRT and the agency from which the resources are available to meet those goals. Therefore, no designation of command lead, whether civilian or military, will be meaningful unless the designated lead has the resources to back its leadership.58
Is the phasing model still relevant to today's national security challenges? The writers of doctrine point out that the phasing model is only a tool for the commander to use in planning an operation. Rarely are the phases clear-cut with precise boundaries - they do not necessarily fall into tidy categories, but instead tend to overlap. Furthermore, a whole-of-government approach to complex operations means that resources other than those of DOD should be brought to bear on an operation. However, resource restrictions and the lack of an operational capacity prevent other organizations from taking a clear lead. DOD remains the only organization with the capability to organize, manage, and move people and resources to and within an operation.
Options for Improved Civil-Military Integration
Choosing which model of civil-military cooperation is most appropriate to the task will depend on the broader strategic environment. Different models may be appropriate, depending on the scenario, but a system that can accommodate the model must be in place to enable a decision when it is made.
The following suggestions for improved civil-military integration (which are not mutually exclusive) merit reflection in the context of:
Create a Surge-absorption Capability at Embassies
The Embassy of the Future report suggests organizing the Embassy along functional rather than agency lines.59 Currently, members of various U.S. agencies are segregated from each another. One suggestion involves "doubling the size of substantive State" - Civil Service and Foreign Service Officers, excluding support staff - and creating at each Embassy a function dealing with stability and reconstruction missions.60 These positions would be staffed at all times, just as political, economic, consular, and public diplomacy functions are staffed today. In addition to staffing the new functional area with Department of State personnel, it would also accommodate other U.S. agency personnel. During a time of crisis, this unit within an Embassy would absorb any additional influx of government personnel. This would also mean fully integrating USAID into State to underscore its integral role in foreign policy rather than keeping it as a separate humanitarian assistance/development organization.
Clarify/Strengthen the Role of the Ambassador
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee observed that the leadership qualities of an Ambassador are a determining factor in the success of the campaign against terror. However, under current constructs, the Ambassador has no effective authority over non-foreign policy personnel at the Embassy. Recommendations for empowering the Ambassador include the authority to override directives from other government agencies to their staffs in the Embassy; the ability to approve all military-related programs implemented in country; and creation of a memorandum of understanding governing the activities of Special Operations Forces in country.61 Among the recommendations in The Embassy of the Future report that merit consideration is to grant Ambassadors authority over performance evaluations not only for all foreign affairs agencies, but also for all agencies on the country team.62 (Similarly, military commanders should have authority over performance evaluations for the interagency members at their command.) Along similar lines, Griffin and Donnelly advocate the creation of frontline country teams in which the U.S. Ambassador, supported by a military assistance and advisory group within the Embassy, would direct U.S. security partnerships. They stress that the success of the country team depends on enhancing the Ambassador's leadership authority and effectively integrating interagency operations on the ground.63
Place Military Assets at the Command of Civilian Authorities
For some foreign affairs civilians, placing more civilians at COCOMs and relying on the transfer of DOD funds to implement programs under State authority only exacerbate the problem of the unbalanced resource equation. True civil-military integration would include the option of putting military assets at the command of civilian authorities up to the point where we go to war. After the military fights and wins the war, assets would be turned back over to civilian leadership. This would require creating and paying for a robust civilian infrastructure to take on the responsibility of civilian leadership.
Restructure Country Teams
Robert Oakley and Michael Casey propose restructuring Embassies along functional lines relevant to issues facing a particular country. At larger Embassies, positions for two deputy chiefs of mission would be created - one for substantive issues and one for program management. The deputy for management would be responsible for the country team's policy agenda; the other deputy would oversee the functional components of the Embassy, such as law enforcement, trade promotion, and crisis planning and response. For an integrated approach, employees from various U.S. agencies would occupy appropriate components. The activities of military elements assigned to the mission would fall unambiguously under the authority of the Ambassador, except in the context of forces engaged in hostilities when the independent authority of combatant commanders would be activated.64 Ambassadors would have input into the performance reviews of all employees, including those from non-foreign affairs agencies.
Reinforce Informal Coordination Mechanisms
The personalities of civilian and military leaders and their staffs, and their proximity to one another, can contribute to successful coordination of efforts. During Somalia's Operation Restore Hope, the civilian Presidential special representative and the military Combined Joint Task Force commander and their staffs collaborated successfully because of their personal commitment. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the Ambassadors and military commanders collocated their offices within the Embassies to ensure a coordinated approach. The examples set by these leaders trickled down to their staffs. By contrast, during the time of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the Ambassador's and military commander's offices were separate and their staffs rarely coordinated with one another. Currently in Iraq, the Ambassador has authority over U.S. personnel, with the exception of those involved in military and security matters, who come under the authority of the military commander.
Restructure Regional Commands Using CORDS-like Structure
Using USAFRICOM and USSOUTHCOM as the prototype, a civilian deputy is integrated into a military command, and members of the interagency are represented throughout the command organized along functional lines to better accommodate an interagency approach. Where a civilian heads a directorate, its deputy is a military official, and vice versa. To be effective, this structure would be replicated at all levels to create a clear hierarchy65 and would be reinforced when performance reviews are written without regard to civilian or military status.
Reconsider COCOM versus Ambassador Authority over In-country Pre-insurgency Military Operations
Currently, military assistance and training programs remain under the execution authority of the COCOM commander. Certainly, collaboration and coordination take place, but this arrangement tends to place the COCOM commander in a preferred position in the eyes of host country officials. Bob Killebrew proposes achieving unity of command in a pre-insurgency theater by subordinating to the Ambassador all military forces charged with advising a host country's military forces, with the regional combatant commander in a supporting role. The size of the military presence should be expandable as needed, depending on the host country's requirements. Should a crisis occur, a Presidential envoy and a three-star deputy commander to the geographic combatant command would supersede the Ambassador. The country team, including the military element, would continue to function under the authority of the Ambassador up to the point of warfare, at which point the Ambassador would support the military operation.66 The key to this scenario is the foundational presence of a military component in country that can swell to accommodate combat operations when needed.
Create Regional Civilian-led Interagency Organizations
Richard Downie proposes a complete restructuring of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus to make Federal departments and agencies "service providers" to a global system of regional civilian-led interagency organizations (RCLIOs), analogous to the way the military services are service providers to the combatant commands. An RCLIO would supervise both the COCOM and the Embassies in the region. The civilian RCLIO leaders would report to the President through a revised NSC system, which would reflect an interagency version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the Embassies would be under the RCLIOs, the National Command Authority would also be changed to include the Secretary of State, along with the President and the Secretary of Defense.67
1. "Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-terror Campaign," Report to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Richard G. Lugar, Chairman, December 15, 2006.
2. George L. Argyros, Marc Grossman, and Felix G. Rohatyn, The Embassy of the Future (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007), 47.
3. Robert B. Oakley and Michael Casey, Jr., "The Country Team: Restructuring America's First Line of Engagement," Joint Force Quarterly 47 (4th Quarter 2007), 146.
4. "Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-terror Campaign."
5. Argyros, Grossman, and Rohatyn, 47.
6. Christopher Griffin and Thomas Donnelly, "The Frontline Country Team: A Model for Engagement," American Enterprise Institute, June 2008.
7. Information on JIACGs provided to author informally by U.S. Joint Forces Command J9 Interagency Division, April 2008.
8. "Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-terror Campaign."
9. USCENTCOM characterizes the reason for the May 2008 reorganization as including the desire to move from soft coordination to action, to increase intelligence leverage, and to support the Pentagon's move for an irregular warfare requirement. Extracted from USCENTCOM brief "JIACG to IATF-IW," presented June 11, 2008, and provided to author informally by USJFCOM J9 Interagency Division.
10. Richard D. Downie, "Reforming U.S. Foreign Policy Implementation: Creating a Global System of Regional Civilian-Led Interagency Operations," April 30, 2008.
11. Lisa Schirch and Aaron Kishbaugh, "Leveraging '3D' Security: From Rhetoric to Reality" (Silver City, NM, and Washington, DC: Foreign Policy in Focus, November 16, 2006).
12. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, June 2008), 17-18.
13. Phase zero is a deliberate strategy of engagement, encompassing all activities prior to phase one to prevent conflict from developing in the first place. It consists of shaping operations, building capacity in partner nations, and placing heavy emphasis on interagency support and cooperation. Phase zero involves the execution of a broad national strategy where DOD is not the lead agency and its programs are only a part of the larger U.S. Government effort. See Charles F. Wald, "The Phase Zero Campaign," Joint Force Quarterly 43 (4th Quarter 2006), 72-73.
14. Lauren Ploch, "Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa," Report RL34003 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, March 10, 2008), 4.
15. Robert T. Moeller, "AFRICOM: The Road Ahead for United States Africa Command," speech at the Brookings Institution, May 27, 2008.
16. "Best Practices for Geographic Combatant Command Transformations: SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM," Institute for Defense Analyses, April 9, 2008.
18. "Transforming National Security: AFRICOM - An Emerging Command: Synopsis and Key Insights," notes from conference on USAFRICOM sponsored by the Center for Technology and National Security Policy, available at "www.ndu.edu/CTNSP/NCW_course/AFRICOM%20Summary%20Notes.pdf".
20. "Transforming National Security: AFRICOM - An Emerging Command Synopsis and Key Insights."
22. In general, other agencies are not authorized manpower for overseas missions, and their contributions to these missions are "diversions" from their legislative charter and authorized funding.
23. Ploch, 10.
24. Ibid., 18-19.
25. USSOUTHCOM's interagency partnering and reorganization brief, CAPT Kevin C. Hutcheson, Deputy Director for Interagency Integration, Interagency Partnering Directorate (J9), source: USJFCOM.
26. Plan Colombia was a bilateral, whole-of-government approach between the United States and Colombia that involved successful security sector reform and an interagency team. The 500-person Joint Interagency Task Force-South conducts counter-illicit trafficking operations with personnel from all the military Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, the Intelligence Community, and 11 allied civilian (law enforcement) and military organizations. See "Best Practices for Geographic Combatant Command Transformations."
28. "Best Practices for Geographic Combatant Command Transformations."
30. Downie, 5.
31. Oakley and Casey.
33. Richard W. Stewart, "CORDS and the Vietnam Experience: An Interagency Organization for Counterinsurgency and Pacification," National War College, May 1, 2006.
34. It is worth noting that earlier pacification efforts in Vietnam had floundered because of the lack of sustained territorial security as an indispensible first stage of pacification. The military - regarding pacification as civilian-agency business - had never provided adequate security resources. Large-scale pacification required full-time, sustained protection at the key village/hamlet level on a large scale. Primary responsibility for local protection of the rural population devolved upon local forces recruited from this population itself. W. Scott Thompson and Donaldson D. Frizzell, eds., The Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Crane, Russak and Company, 1977), 216.
35. Ibid., 215.
36. Robert W. Komer, Bureaucracy at War: U.S. Performance in the Vietnam Conflict (Boulder and London: Westview Press, 1986), 120.
37. Thompson and Frizzell, 271.
38. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, "Agency Stovepipes vs. Strategic Agility: Lessons We Need to Learn from Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan," April 2008, 15, available at "http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/Reports/PRT_Report.pdf".
39. Michelle Parker, Programming Development Funds to Support a Counterinsurgency: Nangarhar, Afghanistan, 2006, Defense and Technology Paper 53 (Washington, DC: Center for Technology and National Security Policy, September 2008).
40. International Security Assistance Force is the NATO-led force operating in Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate. Armed Services Committee Report, 13.
41. "Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-terror Campaign," 14.
43. For a comprehensive treatment of the subject, see "Agency Stovepipes vs. Strategic Agility."
44. Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, PRT Lessons Learned Workshop, Gettysburg, PA, March 2008.
47. Thompson and Frizzell, 271.
48. "Agency Stovepipes vs. Strategic Agility," 31.
50. Interview at U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC, June 27, 2008.
52. Ralph A. Cossa, "U.S. Military Provides 'Logistical Backbone' for Tsunami Relief," March 2005, available at "www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2005/March/20050304111202dmslahrellek0.5149347.html".
54. Dave Tarantino, "Asian Tsunami Relief: Department of Defense Public Health Response: Policy and Strategic Coordination Considerations," Military Medicine (October 2006), available at "http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/is_200610/ai_n16810493/pg_3?tag=artBody;col1".
56. Interview at U.S. Agency for International Development.
57. Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations, September 17, 2006, iv. forms the core of joint warfighting doctrine.
58. PRT Lessons Learned Workshop.
59. Argyros, Grossman, and Rohatyn, 48.
60. Interview with member of the Senior Foreign Service, June 17, 2008.
61. "Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-terror Campaign."
62. Argyros, Grossman, and Rohatyn, 49.
63. Griffin and Donnelly.
64. Oakley and Casey.
66. Bob Killebrew, "The Left-Hand Side of the Spectrum: Ambassadors and Advisors in the Future U.S. Strategy" (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, June 2007).
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012