A Short History of U.S. Military Operations in Humanitarian Space

There has been a lot of criticism of late by some civilian humanitarian actors that the United State military, especially since 9/11, has militarized humanitarian assistance and development in attempts to win hearts and minds and in doing so is trespassing in the “humanitarian space.” Critics have gone on to say that the biggest threat to humanitarian actors and their humanitarian space is the United States military and its post 9/11 doctrine. They point to casualties among the staff of non-governmental humanitarian organizations (NGHOs) in places such as Afghanistan to make their point.

It is true that the United States Army has republished its counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, the latest version being the October 2006 FM 3-24. The Army also published in October 2008 its landmark FM 3-07, Stability Operations. Both these bodies of doctrine recognize that there are civilians on the battlefield, and that they matter very much. The Army has become ever more engaged in humanitarian assistance and development in regions of violent conflict, as have our Marines, Seabees, and in the littorals, our Navy with its young Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG). Officers and Seamen from the MCAG are serving or have served worldwide in places like the Horn of Africa, Central and South America and the Philippines. The Navy has also used its USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy to great effect in the littoral humanitarian space. Just this summer, the USNS Comfort took 650 medical professionals to seven Latin American countries where they provided urgent medical care to tens of thousands of needy civilians.

So how is this history and not current events? Well, it is both. First, a little chronology is in order. The term “humanitarian space” was coined in the 1990s by the then director of Doctor’s Without Borders. Granted, the term began circulating before 9/11 and the recent publication of FM 3-24 and FM 3-07, but those manuals were based in history of modern warfare. FM3-24 (COIN) and FM3-07 (Stability Operations) draw from the U.S. Army’s experience in Mexico in the 1840s, the Philippines in the late 1890’s and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. FM3-24 also draws on the British experience in Malaya in the 1950s. When Republic of Korea General Paik Sun Yup fought communist guerrillas in the Chiri Mountains in 1951, he was tutored by LTG Van Fleet, USA, who had tutored the Greek Army to victory over communist insurgents in the mountains of Greece. All these operations involved great charity as well as great violence, and Soldiers in all cases proved to be very compassionate humanitarian actors in their own right. From the 1960s onward, Medical, Engineer, Dental, Veterinarian Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPs, ENCAPS, DENTCAPS, VETCAPs) would become commonplace, standard operating procedures for the U.S. military and its allies. The U.S. Army began playing “civilians on the battlefield” at the Joint Readiness Training Center and various other training sites in the 1980s, before the term “humanitarian space” was coined and well before 9/11. And let us not forget the Greatest Generation. Commensurate with the planning for Operation OVERLORD, the amphibious assault of Europe, the U.S. Army began final planning for Operation ECLIPSE, the reconstruction and stabilization of Europe. The execution of Operation ECLIPSE required our Army to conduct extensive humanitarian assistance, development, military government and support to civil administration.

Though hearts and minds were certainly a motive in all these good deeds performed by the U.S. military dating back to our war with Mexico, the bulk of our military’s involvement in humanitarian assistance and development can be traced back to U.S. military regulations and international law. Civil Military Operations (CMO) were first codified in General Scott’s General Order #20 during the Mexican-American War. This order protected Mexican civilians from lawless acts by American Soldiers and instilled marshall law in occupied territories. In concert with martial law, Scott initiated public sanitation projects in cities his Soldiers occupied. These projects provided paid employment to Mexican labor and protected the health of both the Mexican civilians and the American Soldiers. During the Civil War, GO # 20 morphed into GO# 100, which was later used in the Philippines as well. GO #100 was much of the inspiration for the Hague Convention of 1907, which stated in part “The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.” The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civil Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, (link at right)goes several better, stating “to the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.” Article 59 of the Convention touches on civilian humanitarian actors: “If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of said population, and shall facilitate them by all means at its disposal. Such schemes, which may be undertaken either by states or impartial humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, shall consist, in particular, of the provision of consignments of foodstuffs, medical supplies and clothing.” International law ratified by almost all UN member states, U.S. included, recognized that militaries and NGOs might have to “scheme” together to meet the needs of civilians in distress. Article 2 of the Convention states that the convention applies to “all cases of partial or total occupation. . . even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance” and Article 3 states that the Convention also applies “in the case of armed conflict not of an international character. . .” Article 3 recognizes the need for militaries to conduct humanitarian assistance while fighting insurgents in their own territory or when helping an ally fight insurgents.

In conclusion, to my civilian humanitarian actor friends, I swear, the U.S. military is not your enemy and we and our post 9/11 doctrine are not the greatest threat to your existence or to humanitarian space. As indicated by the  Fourth Geneva Convention, we must together make a better world for civilians or real battlefields.

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20 Responses to “A Short History of U.S. Military Operations in Humanitarian Space”

  1. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Joint Stability Operations, and by Joint I mean the military working with their civilian counterparts in the AO, are the other side of the COIN. Before that working relationship can be effective there has to be fully inclusive joint pre-deployment training. Both sides need to get in close, look each other in the eye, smell each other’s breath, and experience working together–up close and personal.

    Just as CA units need to be attached to a BCT before pre-deployment training, and go with that BCT into the AO, so that a strong working relationship and bond can be created, rather than attaching CA once the BDE arrives in country–then expecting a bond to take place under stress and under fire—-so does there have to be some long term pre-deployment training exposure created between civilian counterparts and the military.

    Historically at the JRTC the roles of USAID have been played either by “Bubba the Cat Fish Farmer,” or by part time long retired USAID personnel. There really needs to be permanent DOS, USAID, NGO, personnel assigned to NTC-JRTC for full training rotations.

    The NGO’s will tell you that they don’t have the personnel. What that boils down to is that they often do not have the money. The training benefit to the Army could be so great that they could afford to cover the costs of one or two permanent personel slots; perhaps under the IPA assignment regulations.

    The JRTC especially has come a long way, but the Army has to understand that “Joint” means more than just the combined arms of the Army. “Joint” means all the services, and their civilian counterparts working together. Overall “Joint” at the JRTC means there’s an Air Force ground control team there, the odd Marine, and “Bubba the cat fish farmer.”

    Every CG, since JUN 04, has basically used the same terminology to describe JRTC. “JRTC is a light infantry training centers. We are here to forge warriors. This stability operations stuff is for someone else to do.”
    That creedo is a long way from “Joint.” Finally the U.S. Army has never made more than very light outreach gestures to their civilian counterparts, and that has hurt the military, because if there is a victim in the civil-military relationship it is, more often than not, the military.

    Final thought—–“Stability Operations are the other side of the COIN.”

  2. Bryan Groves Says:

    Steve,
    Point well taken about NGOs needing better representation at JRTC. My recent training at the S/CRS Level One planner’s course tells me that there are approximately 10,000 NGOs in Haiti and I think there are about 800 in Afghanistan. It might be useful if some NGO staff showed up and it would give him entree into the DoD. Today the U.S. Army is funding dozens of Iraqi and Afghan citizens to augment its stable of logal catfish farmers, and Ambassador Daly recently briefed that State was going to have a permanent presence in Fort Polk. USAID is there on every rotation, and I have little reason to believe that the people they send to JRTC lack experience in the field. I had been on only three JRTC rotations before I went to Kosovo in ’99 and ’02 and had not trouble working with NGOs and UN agencies, though they were not replicated on my rotations.

    My main point is that even if USAID or USA funds NGO staff to play themselves in Shughart-Gordon, that the real lesson has to be understood by NGOs. The 4th Geneva Convention, a body of international law, a treaty signed my almost all UN member states, is full of instructions for them. NGOs are not above the law any more than our Soldiers are above the law. American Soldiers have been coordinating the delivery of humanitarian assistance and essential services in conflict regions since the 1840s and will continue to do so. NGOs have to accept this. Though it is true NGO staff have died in Afghanistan, so have many more American Soldiers and many, many more Afghan civilians. The U.S. military and its “post 9/11″ COIN and Stabiliy Operations doctrine are not killing NGO staff, the Taliban are.

  3. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan–you bring up several good points about NGO’s. However, for starters, hark back to one of my main points. “If there is a victim in the Civil-Military Relationship, and there is, it is more often than not the military. As well, I don’t believe it has ever been my position that “he U.S. military and its “post 9/11″ COIN and Stability Operations doctrine ever killed NGO staff.

    I would also point out that your rotations, before you went to Kosovo in ‘99 and ‘02 were Kosovo centric. in early 2003 Shughart-Gordon disappeared, and a massive building campaign started to build Iraqi villages, and staff them, at first with any Arab they could get their hands on, later on in late 2004-2005 with Iraqis. There were no real USAID or NGO staffers there at that time, nor were there any encouraged to be there. I can speak with some authority on that issue.

    As early as 1998 Colonel George Oliver, then U.S. Military Mission to the UN, and I, traveled to JRTC to brief the CG JRTC on the possible establishment of a Joint Civil-Military Training Center at the England Air Force Base, which was in BRAC closure process, but part of which the Army was retaining as their ISB for JRTC. The concept was to provide a training venue for DOS-USAID-NGO’s, rotational and cadre staff, using JRTC as sort of a field laboratory in which to cross train all parties. The concept was approved by the CG, and all the way up to the SECARMY, but he saw no value in it, as “working closely with civilian contingencies was of no importance to the Army. That was what the NG was for.”

    We tried again when I came to PKSOI in 2002, and which was one of the two major reasons I was brought to PKSOI. It again failed because the Army, quite honestly, did not want to work with “civilian entities, but especially with NGOs.

    You wrote: “USAID is there on every rotation, and I have little reason to believe that the people they send to JRTC lack experience in the field.” You are partially correct. USAID is there for some rotations, and if you remember another of my basic points about JRTC, those civilian entities are only as effective as the permanent Observer-Controllers allow them to be. JRTC is the incubator for the “War Fighter Insurgency” that I and others have been writing about since 2003. Finally, as well, there are no permanent NGOs there, and those local roll players still play them.

    You may not be aware, but a majority percentage of USAID staff have always been contracted, and are not permanent DOS civilian employees. As a result most of them have never been deployed outside of the US. Perhaps this is changing, but ifso then it is only a recent change.

    I will be happy at any time to link you with the Senior CA OC, who just PCS’d from JRTC any time you might care to. He and I both can supply you with in depth rotational AARs from CA & Civilian augmentees. Again has there been progress at JRTC? Yes there has, but as the current CG takes pride in telling everyone “JRTC is a light infantry training center, and my job is to forge warriors.”

  4. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan: My apologies I never did return to the several valid points that you made concerning NGO’s The Canadian Forces are in the process of eliminating the word “influence” from their lexicon in an attempt to be more politically correct. As a result Chapter 8 of the final draft of the Canadian “Counter Insurgency Operations Manual” is now entitled “Information Operations – Influence activities;” and during my December, 2009, research trip to Canada, I was told that influence activities will be changed to information activities, even though the COIN manual will still specify, in bold type, “Info Ops will be considered as influence activities only.”

    Confusion seems to reign supreme. Ironically all of this effort at political correctness is being invested despite the fact that the real victim in the civil-military relationship is the military. The civilians, especially the NGOs, have the power of media influence constantly with them. The NGOs make it perfectly clear that they want nothing to do with the military, and they are militant in their effort to maintain their independence and neutrality.

    The NGOs truly maintain their independence and neutrality right up to the moment that the bullets start to fly; and then they want the military to immediately run to their aid and extricate them out from any immediate threat. If the military fails to respond to the NGO call in a timely fashion, then the media is unleashed to beat the military about the head and neck in front of a global audience.

    The end result of this decades old civil-military dance is that the military either goes to great extremes to not work at all with NGOs, as in the U.S. model, or that it basically rolls over and changes its doctrine, its concepts, its words and practices to be more civilian friendly, as in the NATO model. All the while, political correctness continues to demonstrate that intelligence does not preclude stupidity. Political correctness in the civil-military environment ultimately promotes nothing but contempt among all parties of what, in reality, should be a highly effective team. It’s not unlike a marriage where one spouse continually changes to appease the other spouse. Then after these changes have gone on for a considerable time the spouse that has made all the changes eventually loses the respect of that spouse that has compelled the changes. Sometimes that loss of respect leads to a very hostile divorce, which is what has happen in the case of the U.S. Army. The rest of NATO is still trying to get along, and make the politically correct changes. Allowing political correctness to so totally shape how any of the non-kinetic enablers function is a very serious and potentially deadly mistake.

    Unfotunately, at the end of the day, with the larger NGOs, it is all about competition for donor base; either to enlarge that base–or in these trying times–just to maintain what they have. Some larger NGOs fear the military diverting the media attention away from their efforts. Some larger U.S. NGOs actually do see the military as a competitive NGO, becuae of the level of military work in reconstruction.

  5. civilaffairspksoi Says:

    Steve,
    I take exception to your comment that the US military is trying to avoid NGOs. I think the fact that Office of the Secretary of Defense, PKSOI, and at times representatives from some of the COCOMs and professors from West Point attend quarterly working groups with InterAction members at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in D.C. is evidence of this, as is the fact that Office of the Secretary of Defense published guidelines with USIP and InterAction is evidence that the US military is reaching out to NGOs. I reference the 4th Convention heavily in my work because I feel that it is very instructive to militaries and NGOs about how they should work together under international law to help civilians in zones of conflict.

    I understand your comment that some NGOs see US military delivering humanitarian assistance as a competitor for publicity and funding. I can’t help it if the US military seems too competitive. DOD has 6,000 civil engineers on its payroll alone. How many civil engineers are on the payroll of NGOs worldwide?

    V/r

    Bryan

  6. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan: Exception duly noted. You wrote:

    “United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in D.C. is evidence of this, as is the fact that Office of the Secretary of Defense published guidelines with USIP and InterAction is evidence that the US military is reaching out to NGOs.”

    The key wors here are “Office of the Secretary of Defense published guidelines with USIP and InterAction.” OSD also published The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), National Security Program Directive (NSPD) #44, and DoD Directive 3000.05 (Stability Operations). To date those have only been read and acted on in the minority; especially in the U.S. Army.

    As I wrote earlier, just recently within last week, the U.S. Army, who has the greatest opportunity to engage with NGOs, has put off styanding up the second AC CA BDE until 2013, and has made public statements that they do not want to conduct STABOPS.

    If you go to the InterAction web site you will find vitually nothing reflecting any outreach to the military, especially the US Army, or visa versa.

    If you go to the USIP web site, and look at their mission statement, it says “USIP provides the analysis, training and tools that prevent and end conflicts, promotes stability and professionalizes the field of peacebuilding.” It says nothing about promoting outreach to the military, any military, and even if it did mention the U.S. Army, which it doesn’t, the U.S. Army “War Fighters” will be the first to tell you that they “do not do peacekeeping,” even though they’ve dabble in it–unsuccessfully.

    In closing, DOD’s publishing guidlines is a long way from their being implemented; at least by the U.S. Army. Thanks.

  7. Steve Henthorne Says:

    PS—Remember—if there is a victim in the civil-military relationship–it’s the military, mainly the U.S. Army. They continue to be a victim because of a serious lack of training and sincere outreach.

  8. civilaffairspksoi Says:

    Steve,

    I don’t feel victimized at all, and especially not to the point where I would spend taxpayer dollars to have NGOs come be themselves at Fort Polk. Sounds a bit like extortion to me.

    There are approximately 10,000 NGOs in Haiti alone, with no US military to interfer with them and make them targets for insurgents. Haiti’s successful development speaks for itself.

    Vr

    Bryan

  9. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan:

    If you look at my inject from 05 OCT 09, which says “Confusion seems to reign supreme. Ironically all of this effort at political correctness is being invested despite the fact that the real victim in the civil-military relationship is the military. The civilians, especially the NGOs, have the power of media influence constantly with them. The NGOs make it perfectly clear that they want nothing to do with the military, and they are militant in their effort to maintain their independence and neutrality.”

    The key words are “NGOs, have the power of media influence constantly with them.” That is a weapon often used to beat the military about the head and neck, plus they also use independence and neutrality as weapons as well–until the shooting starts. The military has often been bested by NGO’s in the media.

    Then as well the military has often victimized themselves in their interaction with the NGOs. The most classic example, which is still causing friction between NGOs & the military, was the famous incident during the first Afghanistan Punitive Expedition where special operations soldiers were wearing civilian clothes, carry weapons, and identifying themselves as NGO workers.

    I would point out here that the NGO-military conflict today is mostly US centric. Our UN, NATO & EU allies, for the most part, who practice CIMIC,
    seem to interact slightly better with their NGOs, with the French version of Médecins Sans Frontières being the one major exception.

    Part of the U.S. Military problem is in their definition of CMO, which highlights the word “exploit” in the definition. The basic difference between CMO and CIMIC is often described as CMO is “exclusive” in that it is seen to “exploit” the civilian population, and NGOs, for information (Intelligence) to enhance the security and needs of the military. CIMIC is considered “inclusive, in that CIMIC’s first response is to try to work with the civilian population, and NGOs, to see to their needs and security first. (Please note here that I’ve not taken a position on this.)

    Quite frankly there are those on both sides of the Civil-Military conflict who would like to see it continue; as that conflict has provided many a conference, in nice places, with good food and drink, to discuss how to improve the civil-military working relationship. Solving that issue ends the gravy train.

    In the end it is not a matter of you being personally victimized, but rather the military as a corporate victim. There should be NGOs at JRTC/NTC, if for no other reason than, sooner or later, soldier will encounter them in the field, and should have some first hand experience with them.

    To be honest, my only problem with your last note is trying to figure out the two different meanings of the two paragraphs. In the case of Haiti I’ve been there many times, with both U.S. and UN Forces, and I’m having a hard time seeing the successful development which you write about. No matter though, because at present there are greater threats in the world.

    Thanks,

  10. civilaffairspksoi Says:

    I have not seen NGOs as a powerful influence in the media during the the past eight years. I am sure they are powerful in their own minds and on their own websites. If there is a sixty minutes link that counters with NGO criticism of our Soldiers dressing as civilians as shown in that program’s coverage of the 96th in Afghanistan in 2001-2002, which showed our Soldiers dressed in local garb and driving non-tactical vehicles, I would like to see it. I have not seen any discussion of NGOs and their grievances against the U.S. military since President Obama took office either, and I have not seen NGOs discussed in the recent debates about what the U.S. should do next in Afghanistan.

    I have met many Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan without running into NGOs. Bottom line, Soldiers are legally obligated and trained to treat all civilians with respect and to take strong measures, even at risk to their own lives, to minimize civilian casualties among non-combatants, whether they be international NGO staff or the local population.

    I myself have not been to Haiti as you have. If you are telling me that you don’t see progress in Haiti, in spite of the presence of thousands of NGOs, why do you believe NGOs are so critical to stability operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and JRTC? As I mentioned before, the Germans, Japanese and the Koreans rebuilt their nations without the presence of significant numbers of NGOs, and did so after suffering much more damage and many more civilian casualties than that experienced by the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. Was that the difference seven years ago in meaningful stability operations? NGOs paid by the Army to play themselves at JRTC?

  11. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan, you wrote:

    “I have not seen NGOs as a powerful influence in the media during the the past eight years. I am sure they are powerful in their own minds and on their own websites. If there is a sixty minutes link that counters with NGO criticism of our Soldiers dressing as civilians as shown in that program’s coverage of the 96th in Afghanistan in 2001-2002, which showed our Soldiers dressed in local garb and driving non-tactical vehicles, I would like to see it.”

    My best politically response to that quote would be to ask you to talk with Bill Flavin at PKSOI. I will dig into my old PKI archives and find you some information on it. That one incident alone catapulted Medicine San Frontiers into the political lime light and a Nobel Peace Prize, and became the ralling cry for NGO distrust of the military by NGOs even today.

    You wrote:

    “As I mentioned before, the Germans, Japanese and the Koreans rebuilt their nations without the presence of significant numbers of NGOs, and did so after suffering much more damage and many more civilian casualties than that experienced by the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

    Well, for starters, at that time, at the end of WWII, there were not large numbers of NGOs around. As well, there were huge allied military occupation forces available to help, and the Japanese, Germans, and later on the Koreans, had slightly more sophisticated infrastructure to rebuild, and they were far more proactive about rebuilding than either the Afghans or the Haitians.

    Those countries had well defined national boundaries, with prior good internal lines of communication and support, and national prides well established. I truly dispute today if there is, in reality, Afghanistan is really a unified country, or will ever truly want to be a unified country in the context that the west wants to make it.

    I’m sure you did meet soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who never saw an NGO, but I’m willing to bet that they weren’t CA or CIMIC. A question for you who supports the people long term after the military transitions to phase 4 & 5 operations and goes home (assuming of course the Army actually ever sucessfully transitions past phase 3 operations.) ?

    No one’s State Department or Ministry of Foreign Affairs can do that alone. So like it or not NGO’s are part of the post conflict STABOPS team.
    They need to be for real at JRTC/NTC, not just to be seen by soldiers, but so both entities, civil-military, can truly learn to work together. No NGOs = no effective phase 4-5 operations = the military stays longer than they need to, want to, which further irritates the population, which causes resistence to rise–which starts the cycle of violence over again. Does that sound remotely familiar? We’re looking at that scenario in the Balkans–again, and even tensions are rising in Haiti.

    Thank,

  12. Steve Henthorne Says:

    I recently wrote above that “I truly dispute today if Afghanistan is really a unified country, or will ever truly want to be a unified country in the context that the west wants to make it.”

    I currently subscribe to several really good daily news sites that deliver very good information on general military subjects, but two that are Afghan specific, and originate in country.

    The comment below is from fyeoexpress

    “PEACEKEEPING: The Fallacy Of Fixing Afghanistan

    August 14, 2009: While many talk of “fixing Afghanistan,” the sad fact is that there was never much there that worked well or for long. It’s not for nothing that Afghanistan is the poorest nation in Eurasia, and has been virtually ungoverned for centuries. What passes for a central government was established a few hundred years ago mainly to deal with foreigners (and keep them out), and occasionally help mediate tribal disputes. Afghanistan is that part of Central Asia that no one wanted, the kid that never got selected when it came time to choose up teams. Economically, there’s no there there, and thus no reason to bother marching in and taking over.

    For a long time, a branch of the Central Asian “Silk Road” trade route (from China to the Middle East) passed through Afghanistan. When that was the case, those parts of Afghanistan belonged to one empire or another, and Afghanistan, as we know it today, was nowhere to be seen. But larger and speedier European ships made the Silk Route a lot less lucrative by the 17th century, and interest in the area, that came to be known as Afghanistan, waned.

    But American commanders in Afghanistan know that the country does have economic potential, if only communications (cell phones and roads) and order (suppression of bandits and tribal gangs out to score) can be improved. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan now wants 45,000 troops to destroy the heroin trade (which definitely does not want law and order) and suppress the banditry, so that trade and more economic activity can be established. For the last eight years, there has been thousands of kilometers of new roads built (and many more kilometers of older roads repaired). The paved roads get the most media attention, but some of the dirt or gravel roads are a matter of life and death for people in remote areas.

    The Taliban see the roads as an enemy, capable of bringing in new ideas, and prosperity that will weaken Afghan will to resist all this modern evil. But at the same time, the Taliban use the roads to move around, to kill and terrorize those who don’t want to live a conservative and restrictive lifestyle. But most Afghans see the roads as a means towards a better future.

    Thus the American commanders in Afghanistan are also asking for more civilian economic experts. Irrigation and farming experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, transportation and economic experts from other departments. In most of Afghanistan, where the Taliban are not active, there has been much economic growth over the past eight years. But failure makes more compelling news, so the Taliban’s efforts to halt economic growth get more attention.

    To foster economic growth, you also need less corruption and more security. Stamping out the corruption will take generations, even if honest government takes hold. Right now, the heroin trade is making it very difficult to be honest. The drug gangs also prevent the police, army, or even tribal militias, from establishing security in the south. But that’s what it takes to make Afghanistan inhospitable for the Taliban, and their Islamic terrorist allies.

    Afghanistan is a collection of tribes and ethnic groups that mainly want to survive in a harsh environment. Nationalism is not, and never has been, a big issue out in the countryside (where most Afghans live). Prosperity is desired, but only if you have a chance to live long enough to enjoy it.”

    Just an observation, but we seem to be intent to invest billions, and billions, in an area of the world in which most of our citizens have absolutely nothing in common; while investing almost nothing in an area of the world where our citizens have much in common—Africa—-where China and Russia are investing, and gaining access to far greater natural resources that Afghanistan will ever have.

    I would also recommend the two CDN civilian news sites:

    Karl Lorenz

    Afghan NewsBuds

  13. civilaffairspksoi Says:

    Steve,
    Medicines Sans Frontiers received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, so the actions of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 had nothing to do with that.
    From viewing the sixty minutes clip, I note that the Soldiers made every attempt to dress as Afghans, not as western humanitarian aid or development workers. Having said that, there was disagreement within the military about whether or not disguising themselves as civilians was the right thing to do. More recently the Finnish government sponsored a study on this issue of NGOs being endangered by military activities. There conclusion was that western NGO staff were being killed because they were westerners, “not native to these here parts,” etc., and not because western governments had military forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. I want to emphasise that U.S. Soldiers and Marines are taught to respect civilians and to take extreme care during combat to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties. This includes western NGO staffers as well as the local populace in Afghanistan and Iraq or where ever we may have to go. I have to emphasize as well that just as casualties among NGO staff have increased, so have casualties among our Soldiers and Marines and among the militaries of our NATO and Afghan partners. Most tragically, casualties have risen the most among the Afghan population, and most of these were attributed by the June UN report to the Taliban.

    I talked to an AC CA Major who attended S/CRS foundations training with me in July. On his last tour in Iraq he looked through many government and coalition offices in vain looking for NGOs. Realistically, Iraq is much closer to Europe in terms of development, at least in Baghdad and the larger cities, and the Iraqis had a good number of trained professionals in medicine, public works, etc. Many of the major reconstruction efforts in Iraq have been executed by USACE and their contractors. Iraqis have done a lot for themselves. I heard one Marine described how Iraqi linemen and engineers restrung high tension electrical wires from Haditha Dam to Ramadi after insurgents had cut them. The Marines had to clear the area surrounding the power line and the dam of insurgents, but the Iraqis restored their own electric supply.
    You may contend that Europe, Japan and Korea were much more advanced than Haiti or Afghanistan. I would concede that point on Europe and Japan. Korea, however, especially the ROK, was very agrarian and did not begin significant industrialization or development of modern highways, etc., until the 1960s. Regardless, almost all the infrastructure that Europe, Japan and Korea had was mostly destroyed through airpower and artillery during WWII and the Korean conflict. Bomb damage was much less in Afghanistan and there was no arieal bombardment of Haiti in our lifetime or significant military actions.

    During the S/CRS level one planners course, many of my classmates came to the conclusion that 10,000 NGOs in Haiti had stalled that country’s progress and undermined the legitimacy of any democratic Haitian government. Could it be that NGOs undermine the initiative and will of the people to do things for themselves?

  14. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan: Duly corrected on MSF Nobel Prize. What I actually meant to say, but the fog of the day got in the way, was that MSF consistently used the military NGO incident as one reason for not working closely with the military, and they also used that issue to catapult themselves from humble NGO status into a highly political entity.

    As to the actual incident there was far more available at the time in the media and the military press. In conferences held, after the incident, to discuss ways to improve the civil-military working relationship it was a hot topic. I’m continuing to sort through my old PKI material, but I would again refer you to Bill Flavin for color commentary. His memory goes back far beyond mine.

    The Finnish Government study, at least within NATO CIMIC circles has never gained any real credibility–even among European NGO’s. It was almost totally discounted.

    I don’t believe I’ve disputed the numbers of NGOs in Iraq were far down during the Combat phase, or that a lot of the Iraqis carried out some of their own reconstruction projects.

    As for Korea the most impressive paper I’ve read on that subject, to date, was entitled “ROK Civil Military Operations In Support of Counterinsurgencies;” written by a Colonel Bryan Groves–you might know him.

    In looking at the NGO issue, I must admit that you have me scratching my head a bit. In reading back through these blog note I’m not quite sure which side of that debate you are on. So let me clarify my position on NGOs.

    Let me start with a current event. In May of 09 I was asked to participate in a conference at Wilton Park, in the UK. PKSOI’s own Colonel Stephen Smith attended as well. Quite a good bit of conversation during the early stages of the conference were about the US DOS and their announcement to raise a Legion of civilian functional specialists to go to Afghanistan. All present just thought that was wonderful, including NGOs and of course USIP.

    The night before my presentation I received an e-mail from USARC which contained a scan of a letter from SECSTATE to the CAR asking the CAR if he would encourage reserve Officers, not already deployed, to volunteer to join and serve in DOS slots in Afghanistan, in civilian clothes, as the DOS was falling seriously short in being able to provide the numbers of civilians they had advertised. I believe I supplied a copy of that communication to the other officer who attended the conference with Col. Smith.

    My point is that NGOs, regardless of levels of effectiveness, are necessary to support civilian led efforts in support of national and international initiatives put in place by DOS, and various Ministries of Foreign Affairs. In the case of the United States if there were no NGOs then DOS/USAID would have no worker bees to do the work on the ground. Why—they simply do not have the personnel. So taking all that into consideration NGOs, and the services they provide, can/do help the military transition to phase 4-5 civil-authority. If one might look at NGOs only as a necessary evil–they key word is “necessary.” That is why it is important for our troops to encounter real NGOs, not actors, at JRTC/NTC-Fort Dix, etc. That’s also why it is extremely important for the military to know where the NGOs are in the AO, and what they are doing.
    If for no other reason than to know where to go get them when they cry for help.

    As for Haiti, I would fully agree with many of your classmates that “came to the conclusion that 10,000 NGOs in Haiti had stalled that country’s progress and undermined the legitimacy of any democratic Haitian government.”

    To your question “Could it be that NGOs undermine the initiative and will of the people to do things for themselves?” I would say that is true, but so does the support of any outside national government that advocates a strong welfare state system—-which includes most of the Western powers providing aid around the world.

  15. Steve Henthorne Says:

    I responded to the last message above. It seems to have disappeared?

  16. Steve Henthorne Says:

    OK–trying again.

    Let’s start with why Joint Training with real NGO’s is important. A shorter version of what I originally wrote would be that civilian entities, i.e.: DOS (USAID, CRRC), Ministries of Foreign Affairs (From partnering countries), and NGOs are very important elements in transitioning from phase 3 to phase 4-5 in post conflict stability operations. There needs to be trained civilian functional specialties on the ground to help the local civil authority stand back up.

    The blunt truth is that DOS (USAID-CRRC) simply does not have the personnel, nor have they been successful in recruiting enough personnel, to fill those commitments as they have advertise their ability to do so. Bottom line DOS (USAID-CRRC) needs workers in country, and the national contingents of international NGOs provide those workers, while the international level of NGOs provide the management, and the media links where necessary.

    In my earlier inject I noted that during a conference at Wilton Park, in the UK, much acclaim was being giving to DOS deploying future Legions of functional specialists to Afghanistan. The very next day I shared a communication from SECDEF to SECDEF to CAR requesting that the CAR encourage those reserve officers, not yet deployed, to volunteer to serve with the CRRC in civilian clothes; because the DOS was falling way short in the recruitment of the number of civilian personnel they had promised for deployment. So I do believe that it is important for the military to train with real, instead of make believe NGOs, prior to deployment.

    In the case of Haiti. I’m quite sure that many of “your classmates did come to the conclusion that 10,000 NGOs in Haiti had stalled that country’s progress and undermined the legitimacy of any democratic Haitian government.”

    To your question “Could it be that NGOs undermine the initiative and will of the people to do things for themselves?” I would say yes in areas where NGOs know they can safely operate, get good media, generate good PR, and easily build up their donor bases. Haiti is such a place. It has a media friendly visible need, relative much lower violence than Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, etc., and very good hotels in the hills for NGO international staff personnel to retire to at night, after a tough day in the Cité Soleil. Over all though I don’t think that NGOs really undermine the initiative and will of the people to do things for themselves anymore than any western nation providing a national welfare system.

    Finally, as to the Finnish study, and I mis-read you inject about that, I believe the majority would agree that “western NGO staff were being killed because they were westerners, “not native to these here parts,” etc., and not because western governments had military forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.” Having said that the military is then “victimized” because is has to expose its personnel to possible injury or death in order to rescue the NGO personnel in qustion; then the NGO personnel in question are usually only the international staff, not the local staff.

  17. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Sorry typo:

    The very next day I shared a communication from **SECSTATE** to SECDEF to CAR requesting that the CAR encourage those reserve officers, not yet deployed, to volunteer to serve with the CRRC in civilian clothes; because the DOS was falling way short in the recruitment of the number of civilian personnel they had promised for deployment.

  18. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Having just finished reading the newly published “Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction,” published jointly by USIP and PKSOI,
    I believe it to be an excellent document, well covering all the points in this debate, and well answering the large majority of them. I would urge all to read that new publication. Kudos to both organizations. I wish I had received the document before entering this debate.

  19. civilaffairspksoi Says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for the comments on the recently released “Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction” and for pointing out MAJ Kahn’s paper. I hope to discuss both publications in future postings.
    V/r
    Bryan

  20. Steve Henthorne Says:

    Bryan:

    Earlier in the discussion we touched on military personnel wearing civilian clothing, and identifying themselves as NGOs. In searching my archives, actual old PKI archives, I found about half a dozen mentions. The oldest one was from an NGO Forum held in Kabul in March, 2002:

    “Whilst predominantly combat focused, coalition troops have also been involved in small-scale ‘humanitarian’ and ‘reconstruction’ activities. Their perceived encroachment into humanitarian territory prior to the development of the PRT concept caused serious concern. Sightings of US Civil Affairs Officers ‘posing’ as humanitarian workers in Afghanistan around March 2002 provoked furious condemnation from NGOs. Soldiers were spotted wearing civilian clothes, carrying concealed weapons and driving unmarked vehicles. Soldiers ‘cross-dressing’ (Slim, 2003b, p.5) in this way may, Hugo Slim warns, ‘get quite close to perdify as defined in the Geneva Conventions and so risk being a breach of international humanitarian law’ (ibid., p.5). NGO representatives in Afghanistan, outraged by this blatant blurring of civilian-military distinctions, wrote to US Government representatives, requesting that: ‘…transparency be maintained in any military involvement in civil affairs operations. Soldiers (and intelligence officers) should in no case claim to be in Afghanistan as ‘humanitarian workers. In addition, all military personnel involved in conducting civil affairs operations should be in uniform and clearly identifiable as soldiers at all times. The humanitarian community objects in the strongest possible terms to armed soldiers dressing in civilian clothes in order to engage in civil assistance programmes’ (The NGO Forum, Kabul, 2002).”

    The above quote was taken from a paper of that period entitled “Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs):
    an analysis of their contribution to security in Afghanistan”

    By Charlotte Watkins, 30 September 2003. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the MSc degree in Development Practice, Oxford Brookes University

    (http://www.institute-for-afghan-studies.org/Contributions/Projects/Watkins-PRTs/index.htm

    It is actually worth a read today. Also worth the read is another paper of the period entitled “Civil-military relations in Afghanistan” compiled by Tim Morris, an Editor of Forced Migration Review. His take was that “The NGO Coordination Meeting convened by the Agency Coordinating
    Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) in March 2002 expressed concern about
    the mixed military-humanitarian mandate of coalition forces and the use of civilian clothing and concealed weapons by both combatant and
    humanitarian support personnel. NGOs operating in Afghanistan are
    alarmed about the potential confusion created in the minds of Afghans by
    armed coalition soldiers taking part in civil affairs operations while dressingand operating similarly to NGO staff.

    Civilian-clad personnel not employed by the humanitarian community
    include not only US and coalition special operations forces but also
    personnel from the FBI, CIA and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. There is a real fear that humanitarian action may be seen as a front for intelligence gathering by coalition forces. The presence of non-uniformed, non-humanitarian personnel has led NGOs to review security procedures and undertake visibility campaigns. Staff, vehicles and facilities have had to be marked in an effort to ensure that local populationsdo not mistake humanitarian agency staff and assets for those of similarly dressed non-humanitarian personnel using similar vehicles. The US military, which sets great value on the hearts-and-minds benefits of being seen to deliver humanitarian assistance,
    appears unconcerned about possible threats to the security of
    NGO personnel.

    http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR13/fmr13.5.pdf

    Thanks,

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