Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Civil Affairs Support to Irregular Warfare

October 14, 2009

“There will always be wars and rumors of war.”

Jesus Christ

It would appear that Jesus Christ saw wars as a regular, if negative, part of life and the Gospels contain a parable of two related to war, so I would doubt that Jesus would see anything irregular about warfare. However, the Department of Defense felt that some wars are not as regular as others, and in Department of Defense Directive (DoDD 3000.07, December 1, 2008 (see link), defined irregular warfare as “A violent struggle among states and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s). Irregular warfare favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capacities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence and will.”

Non-state actor is the factor that separates irregular war (IW) from the run of the mill variety. The definitions in DoDD 3000.07 imply that a focus on civilian population distinguishes IW from traditional warfare. However, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Sherman’s march to the sea were focused on civilian populations, as were the 8th USAAF and RAF Bomber Command attacks on major German civilian population centers in WWII and our bombing campaigns against Hanoi. These were all acts by state actors during traditional wars, so I think the focus really is on the non-state actors.

The Geneva Conventions speak to non-state actors in as much as they apply to “conflicts not of an international character,” so the law of armed conflict does not change in regards to a military’s responsibilities towards civilian populations under their control. (See links at right.) So what does Civil Affairs do differently in IW vice regular war? That is a good question, one that the Civil Affairs Association will consider at its 58th annual conference, where it will address “the role of Civil Affairs personnel, units, and policy in irregular warfare.” In May of this year the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (ASD (SO/LIC&IC)) briefed that “the nature of irregular warfare (CT, UW, FID, COIN & SO) is indeed “population focused” operations, then we must consider the implications for civil affairs; one of the few capabilities within DoD that specifically focuses on foreign civilian populations.” I would like to share some of the highlights of what ASD (SO/LIC&IC) briefing and solicit some responses on the issue of how CA supports IW.

Counter-terrorism (CT) Operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism. (JP 3-05) If I take out the words offensive measures from the DoD definition of CT, I can imagine lots of ways CA can undermine local popular support for terrorist networks, such as our support to FID in the Philippines. ASD (SO/LIC&IC) suggested “For example, civil affairs functional specialists with expertise in the areas of banking and law enforcement can assist DoD efforts to educate HN security forces in methods to combat terrorist financial operations.” This may be true, but our FBI and DOJ, who have offices in US embassies worldwide, are far more likely to have this expertise. I agree with ASD (SO/LIC&IC) remarks that “civil affairs forces should train and equip other HN forces in Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) to ensure HN forces are prepared to immediately respond with appropriate levels of aid following a specific CT operation. Without such civil-military components to CT operations, terrorist organizations will likely strengthen their influence over relevant populations as was witnessed in Lebanon in 2006.” and “CT operations that cause unnecessary collateral damage risk alienating the relevant populations, de-legitimizing the host nation and or US , and may produce effects that are counter to our campaign objectives. Civil affairs can help mitigate such effects.” More importantly, senior CA officers should sit on targeting boards where they can influence whether or not we risk needlessly killing innocent civilians in our attempts to bag relatively low-value targets. Such ill-informed CT strikes only serve to recruit for the Taliban.

Unconventional Warfare (UW) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) suggested that CA could support UW by conduct “civil reconnaissance in advance of future UW operations to include human terrain mapping and civil information management.” And suggested that our CA conduct civil-military operations (CMO) in and around “safe havens” used by US forces and help plan and support the transition phase of UW campaigns. ASD (SO/LIC&IC) noted that these tasks would require that CA should leverage ongoing social science programs and increase the level of social science analysis in the curriculum of the CA course. I think these suggestions make imminent sense. I would like to opine that we would never undermine another sovereign government, but as one State Department officer informed me, he conducted UW against the Taliban while serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

Foreign Internal Defense (FID) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) noted “Civil Affairs functional specialists with backgrounds in the areas of justice, law enforcement and corrections can provide additional depth to these DoD sponsored advisory missions and associated Security Sector Reform missions. However, these CA functional specialists require some additional training in the principals of development and Security Sector Reform (SSR).” A valid statement, but most of our CA functional specialists will have backgrounds in US justice, law enforcement and corrections. Special care is needed to ensure that we don’t foist a corrections system that Californians can’t afford on Afghans, etc. Similarly, our justice system is very different from those found in Europe and Asia and may not be the right answer for a country fighting a radical Islamic insurgency. The British are championed as experts in COIN and oft cited for their overwhelming use of police vice military to defeat communist insurgents in Malaya. However, the police employed by the British did not carry Miranda cards, nor were they bound by the strict rules of evidence that our police are accustomed to.

Counterinsurgency (COIN). ASD (SO/LIC&IC) notes that “Organizational models such as the Provincial Reconstruction teams provide a contemporary model for civil-military teaming in support of COIN. However, there remains a need for more formal civil-military teaming concepts. . . as with Counter-terrorism, civil affairs can contribute to methods for countering insurgent networks and their associated communications and financial systems. To conduct COIN, DoD requires “interdependent joint force/interagency packages proficient in performing large-scale, civil-military operations needed to defeat irregular threats and conduct stability operations, thus enabling/transitioning to civil authorities. Civil affairs forces are logical components for such civil-military teaming concepts. However, such models will require a reevaluation of joint civil affairs doctrine and organizational concepts for civil-military operations at the operational/theater level.” Basically, recognizes that a lot more CA is needed, and this is one reason we are building to ten AC CA battalions in two brigades while growing USAR CA by one more brigade. One suggestion is to make a CA company organic to each AC and ARNG brigade combat team (BCT) and use the USAR CA force for echelon above BCT, to include civil-military teaming in Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) or Forward Advanced Civilian Teams.

Stability Operations (SO) (As Steve Henthorne of CCOE (link at right) says, the other side of COIN) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) advocates for more training for USAR CA functional specialists, CA planners permanently assigned to Combatant Command staffs and more “CERP-like” authorities and funds, and that CA assets should be more often in conflict prevention and persistent presence roles as well as ongoing fights in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are all good recommendations.

I think that overall ASD (SO/LIC&IC) made some excellent recommendations that though they will take time and money (a lot less than a half-dozen more F22s) will serve our Nation well in preventing and fighting IW as well as traditional war. I look forward to hearing more about how CA can support IW at the 58th Civil Affairs Conference and I look forward to questions and comments on this posting.



October 7, 2009

On 16 September 2009 the Department of Defense reissued DoD Directive 3000.05 (Stability Operations) as DoD Instruction 3000.05, stating that “Stability operations are a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct with proficiency equivalent to combat operations.”
Our forces have been conducting stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan now for several years, but that does not necessarily mean that the Army has done all it can to prepare ourselves to conduct stability operations as well as we fight. Here is a simple “back of the envelope” DOTMLPF assessment of what I think we need to do to make sure our Army is prepared to fully execute stability operations. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
We have taken on the doctrine piece of preparing our force by the publication of FM3-07, but how widely read is it? I have had a number of good (as opposed to “rich”) discussions of this with colleagues at PKSOI and the COIN Center. They have pointed out that as good as FM3-07 is, the devil is in the details, and TTP manuals are needed for such FM3-07 chapter 3 stability tasks such as Support Property Dispute Resolution Processes, Support Public Outreach and Community Rebuilding Programs, Restore Essential Services, Provide Essential Services, Support to Governance and Support Elections, just to name a few of the forty three tasks listed in that chapter, each with supporting sub-tasks.
Organizationally, I can think of some improvements to help us conduct stability operations as well as we do defense and offense. First, I think we should make Civil Affairs (CA) companies organic to our brigade combat teams (BCTs) and give our divisions and corps trained CA officers and NCOs to staff their civil military operations centers (CMOCs) with. We should give each of our BCTs their own trained contracting officers to manage the additional contracts associated with stability operations.
For training and education, we need to make sure that stability operations is taught in our Non-Commissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) and in our officer education system as well. I notice that the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course has four modules at in the eight week COMPANY OPERATIONS portion of the course, and one of them is “Stability/COIN/Targeting.” I am not sure how many hours are devoted to each of these topics, and I mean to find out, but it is a good sign that stability operations made the course outline (see attached link “MCCC Curriculum” at right.) The BATTALION OPERATIONS block also has a module titled “Stability/Targeting.”
In as much as we will continue to be engaged in operations in Muslim countries for years to come, we need to provide standardized education about Islam and Muslim culture to our Soldiers and officers as part of their basic training. Advanced civilian education opportunities should be linked to degree programs that enable graduates to contribute to the execution of stability tasks and ROTC scholarships should be similarly tied to like programs at the undergraduate level as well as mastery of a foreign language.
I think that JRTC is making a serious effort to provide an opportunity to train stability operations in a compressed amount of time during mission readiness exercises, and I applaud their use of native Afghan and Iraqi role players and integration of USAID into their scenarios, and I understand that Department of State plans to send some of its staff through JRTC to participate in the training as well. Many JRTC rotations concentrate heavily on stability operations, but some do not. That some do not may reflect a failure of our senior leadership seminars to fully explain the importance and inevitability of stability operations to BCT commanders and staff. This must be corrected. Each rotation should address some key stability tasks, such as Establish Civil Security, Protect Key Personnel and Facilities, Clear Explosive and CBRN Hazards, etc. A BCT may not have within its task organization the capability to complete other tasks such as Restore Essential Services, but the BCT commander and his staff need to know who to call to get the right assets to help with tasks that exceed the BCT’s capabilities or capacity.
As for materiel, I would advocate for a full fielding of the Civil Information Management (CIM) system developed by USACE and the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (or its next generation) so that all CA companies throughout the AC and RC are equipped and trained in its use. This system allows CA Soldiers to develop a much more complete picture of the civil component of the operational environment and to collect significant data, to include USAID tactical conflict assessment framework (TCAF) responses from the local populace. CIM data will support CA, CMO and IO activities and greatly enhance our ability to conduct stability operations and COIN. We also need a bio-metric identification system similar to our BIDS that we can use to help identify who belongs and who does not and to better map the human terrain. Our Army has used systems like this before in Afghanistan, but more of this equipment is needed. I think that most other equipment procured for combat operations has direct applicability to stability operations. There may be a need to stockpile additional equipment sets and other supplies to support delivery of humanitarian assistance and essential services during early phases of post-combat reconstruction.
Addressing the Leadership element of Stability Operations can best be accomplished through education at pre command courses, our officer PME and NCOES courses and BCTP senior leader seminars. As I noted earlier, the MCCC has put it in its curriculum.
Personnel must be addressed through incentives and recruiting. As I mentioned earlier, advanced civilian schooling and ROTC scholarships should be tied to degree programs that have direct applicability to stability operations and to achieving foreign language proficiency. Since our reserve component (RC) makes up a larger portion of our deployed forces now than ever, those returning veterans who stay in the RC should be given the opportunity to apply for Army funded advanced civilian schooling in degree programs that will directly contribute to stability operations. More Soldiers should be afforded opportunity to learn foreign languages during the reset cycle. For RC CA, United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) should be able to offer direct commissions, at the field grade level if necessary, to attract qualified civilian talent needed to fill functional specialist billets in its CA brigades and battalions.
Finally, for facilities, I am not sure that drastic changes are needed to existing facilities, to include those at the CTCs. I would look to others for suggestions in this area.
Anyway, that is my back of the envelope assessment. I appreciate any feedback on this.

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

October 2, 2009

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.

Integrated Civilian-Military Planning for Afghanistan

September 27, 2009

I had the recent pleasure of spending three weeks with some of our government’s best and brightest as part of the State Department’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) Level One Planner’s Course. The purpose of the course was to develop interagency planners to support stability operations. This was the first iteration of this training and it delved heavily into assessment, more so than planning. The training was presented by staff at the National Defense University (NDU) and doctrine writers from S/CRS.

Considering that the Army devotes a better part of a year to growing its Functional Area 59 planners, I think NDU and S/CRS crammed a lot of learning into three weeks. The S/CRS doctrine is still draft at this point and is built around the S/CRS Integrated Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF), which is a derivative of USAID’s Conflict Assessment Framework (CAF). Another child of the USAID CAF is the Tactical Conflict Assessment Framework (TCAF). All three frameworks are found in FM 3-07, Stability Operations.

I like the TCAF better because it starts off with fewer western preconceived notions and simply asks the population in the country to be stabilized four questions:
1. “Has the population of the village changed in the last twelve months?”
2. “What are the greatest problems facing the village?”
3. “Who is trusted to resolve the problem?”
4. “What should be done first to help the village?”
These questions are loaded enough, and can result in expensive solutions, such as the one Afghan village that answered question four with “Give us volleyball equipment.”

The ICAF is far more “nuanced” and therefore doesn’t bother to gather input from the local population. In our two exercises (Haiti and Afghanistan) we did not have any role players from either of these two countries participate in the ICAF because the ICAF doesn’t require it. The ICAF can be conducted in or out of theater in as little or much time as you feel you have to react to the crisis. The model calls for the group to first establish “context” and tells us that “Context includes, for example: environmental conditions, poverty, recent history of conflict, youth bulge, or conflict-ridden region.” In step two, again, without thoroughly polling a broad sample of the people we intend to help, upper middle class Americans will identify for our beneficiaries their core grievances, identity groups and “articulate how societal patterns reinforce perceived deprivation, blame and inter-group cleavages and/or promote comity and peaceful resolution of inter-group disputes.” What is key here is that we are really talking about our perceptions of deprivation and blame, since we did not ask a broad number of Haitians or Afghans anything. We relied on anecdotal information from hardly unbiased sources that saw terrible things they wanted fixed in other people’s societies but really had no good recommendations about how to fix them.

Other than the first two steps of the ICAF, I thought the S/CRS planning process made sense, though it would be useful to compare it to the planning system the United States Government used in Vietnam during the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program. I realize that Vietnam is the war that most of US want to forget, but we can take pride in the fact that the Republic of Vietnam did not fall to a popular communist uprising or insurgency, but to a conventional attack by the communist North supported with Soviet supplied tanks and artillery. Our cold war proxy may have not been the model of stability, but the communist North had to kill at least a couple hundred thousand civilians during their final conquest and invested a lot of blood sweat and tears in “reeducating” many more Southerners in subsequent years.

The final week of the course came as the Washington Post printed an assessment by General McChrystal on the situation in Afghanistan (see attached link “COMISAF’S INITIAL ASSESSMENT.”) General McChrystal’s assessment, dated 30 August, drew from the United States Government Integrated Civilian-Military Campaign Plan for Support to Afghanistan, dated 10 August 2009 (see link “Integrated Civilian-Military Campaign.”) NDU and S/CRS used both these documents in their instruction.

I think the 10 August plan is well written and I had the pleasure of meeting the two S/CRS planners who worked inside Afghanistan with USG military planners to craft it over a two month period. They drew heavily on existing civil-military plans from the regional commands in Afghanistan. They did not use ICAF to craft the assessment. From my discussions with one of the planners, they did not use a lot of polling data from Afghans or work with Afghans Government on the plan either. They did have a numerous Afghan employees of our DOS who provided local cultural and political expertise. However, these good Afghans are as susceptible to Stockholm Syndrome as the best American. This plan is not an inexpensive one, though I am pretty sure it is a lot cheaper to create “Sustainable Jobs” in Afghanistan (for Afghans at least) than it is to create sustainable jobs in America. The plan includes a transformative effect “Claiming the Information Initiative.” I would like to see some polling numbers cited here, but I am afraid I am getting more anecdotes such as “However, in many rural communities, insurgent messaging resonates more deeply, feeding on mistrust of centralized government, unhappiness with lack of services, and widespread grievances related to continuing insecurity, government corruption, and the presence and actions of foreign actors.” This may all be true, but it may also reflect our perceptions of basic government services and corruption. Again, I hearken back to a classmate who told me the villagers she talked to just wanted volleyball. I like polling figures, and they are out there. Max Boot used them when he wrote last month “The Taliban and related groups are tough, tenacious foes but they are hardly invincible. Their Achilles heel is lack of popular support. An International Republican Institute poll of 2,400 Afghans in July found that only 19% have a favorable view of the Taliban compared to 62% who have a positive impression of the U.S. and 82% who view the Afghan National Army favorably. A poll taken earlier this year by the BBC and ABC found that only 4% of Afghans want the Taliban to return to power.” I think we have been in Afghanistan long enough for S/CRS to get Gallup to poll some (more than 2,400) Afghans on what they really want, taking care not to suggest to them what that should be, or to suggest that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) is corrupt. They will tell you what they really want and if a corrupt government is a core grievance for them.

For our graduation exercise, the class was broken down into two planning teams. Each team role played a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and we developed an abbreviated plan addressing just two of the eleven “transformative effects” in the 10 August plan – “Creating Sustainable Jobs” and “Border Access for Commerce, Not Insurgents.” (In S/CRS planning parlance, transformative effects would be called “Major Mission Elements” at the Washington level, and “Objectives” at the country team and PRT level. Once we built our plan, we presented it to an S/CRS executive with recent experience in Afghanistan and responded to many prodding questions that challenged our assumptions and forced us to prioritize our sub-objectives.

I would rate the course as very ambitious, considering what it hopes to teach in three weeks. It was an extremely worthy effort that needs to continue so that S/CRS can effectively execute its “civilian surge” in Afghanistan. I was impressed with the NDU and S/CRS instructors. I was very impressed with the S/CRS personnel in the student body. Most had recent experience in Afghanistan or Iraq, some had come under fire, all were sincere, capable, and willing to return and serve again under hazardous conditions. I think the ICAF assessment framework is flawed in that it relies on western social science to determine what is good for the people of another country rather than outright asking them, but the overall S/CRS planning process made sense to me. I thought the Integrated Civilian-Military Plan was good in that it did recognize “the presence and actions of foreign forces” as “widespread grievance” in many rural communities of Afghanistan. This will be a challenge for US and GIRoA – thinning the lines of US while we bulk up GIRoA and its military so that we really do achieve “peace with honor,” so we, and not UBL, can declare victory when we go home.


September 16, 2009

“The difference between us and the insurgents, who couldn’t seem to care less what they destroy, is that we follow the you-break-it-you-buy-it rule. If the infantry is the tip of the spear during a hot war, it can be said that civil affairs is the tip of the spear – or shovel or bucket loader – after the hot war cools down. These soldiers work hard during the fighting, clearing sectors while attached to the infantry, working with local institutions and assisting the population.”


Thus writes Sergeant First Class Jack Robison in his article “Fresh Paint” in the January 2008 edition of Legion Magazine (see attached link). The article is inspiring as it highlights the intellectual quality of the Army’s non-commissioned corps and it is instructive in that a full nine-months before we published FM3-07, Stability Operations, that combat arms Soldiers, without a lexicon and a doctrine, knew what had to be done to seal the victory.


 “Fresh Paint” describes counterinsurgency stability operations at the tactical level and though it  tells the story of D Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, it also devotes a good deal of discussion to the contributions of the 486th Civil Affairs Battalion from Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Robison’s story reinforces observations in the Report of the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Institutionalizing Stability Operations Within DoD, September 2005 (link at right ) that concluded “Civil Affairs plays a crucial role in stability operations. Years ago the primary role of Civil Affairs was reducing foreign civilian interference with U.S. military operations. Nowadays the primary role of Civil Affairs is accelerating stability: helping to restore and maintain public order; safeguarding, mobilizing and using local resources; facilitating the equitable distribution of humanitarian supplies and services, and other critical functions involving essential services and governance.”


The DSB’s report includes recommendations that United States Army Reserve (USAR) Civil Affairs be able to recruit civilian talent outside the normal  USAR recruiting process because Civil Affairs required significant “civilian domain expertise” that the Army cannot provide. This experience is most often found in older civilians in their mid thirties to mid forties, and most of this seasoned civilian talent will not find entry level positions in the USAR attractive. For this reason, the DSB recommends an expanded warrant officer program as a minimum incentive.


While filling CA functional specialists within the USAR CA brigades and commands with officers with the proper civilian experience and education has long been a challenge, providing CA generalists support to AC and ARNG brigade combat teams (BCTs) is often been problematic too. While the story of the 486th CA is heartening, it is not unique. USAR CA has performed with distinction in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. A reoccurring problem, however, has been, a lack of consistent support between USAR CA and deployed AC BCTs. At one conference I attended this year I heard one AC CA officer who served as a CA staff officer in Iraq complain that his brigade was supported by  elements from three different USAR CA battalions during its tour in the sand box and that this turnover of supporting CA units hurt his brigade. The only way I can see to overcome this problem is to make CA companies organic to AC and ARNG BCTs, just as we have made other combat support and combat service support units organic to BCTs. This would not diminish the need for the current USAR force structure, which is still needed to support stability operations as echelons above BCT, to include provincial reconstruction teams.

The Future of Civil Affairs

September 9, 2009

James Dobbins noted in “Retaining the Lessons of Nation-Building” that

“by 2003, there was no army in the world more experienced in nation-building than the American, and no Western army with more modern experience operating within a Muslim society How, one might ask, could the United States perform this mission so frequently, yet do it so poorly? The answer is that neither the American military nor any of the relevant civilian agencies had regarded post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction as a core function, to be adequately funded, regularly practiced, and routinely executed.”


Assessments such as this helped lead to NSPD 44  (interagency reconstruction and stabilization operations) and DODD 3000.05 (DOD makes stability operations a core operation, as important as defensive and offensive operations) and caused Congress to press OSD for answers to how the United States could improve its ability to conduct stability operation. A key enabler for stability operations is civil affairs, and last summer OSD contracted the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to prepare a study on the future of U.S. Civil Affairs Forces. (See link at right.) OSD commissioned this study in response to a Congressional tasker in the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY09. Congress realized that Civil Affairs was the force of choice for many stability operations activities and was key in the conduct of counterinsurgency operations as well. CSIS, in its report which it published this February, quoted Secretary of Defense Gates:


“The recent past vividly demonstrated the consequences of failing to address adequately the dangers posed by insurgencies and failing states. . . The kinds of capabilities needed to deal with these scenarios cannot be considered exotic distractions or temporary diversions. The United States does not have the luxury of  opting out because these scenarios do not conform to preferred notions of the American way of war.”


The CSIS report made several recommendations on how to strengthen U.S. Civil Affairs capabilities. The very first recommendation was “Reintegrate all Army civil affairs forces under U.S. Army Special Operations Command and create within United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) a 1 or 2 star active civil affairs general officer to oversee and advocate for all Army civil affairs forces.”


The purpose of this recommendation was to reunite RC and AC Civil Affairs after the messy “divorce” under Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The divorce resulted from a Rumsfeld “snowflake” where Rumsfeld asked why RC CA and PSYOP were under SOCOM when from his view they overwhelming supported general purpose forces.  Under Rumsfeld, RC Civil Affairs (CA) and Psychological Operations (PSYOP) and the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) were taken from USASOC/SOCOM and placed under Forces Command. RC CA and PSYOP officers and Soldiers continued to be deployed with much greater frequency than other RC troops, but they lost the additional training days and moneys that they enjoyed under USASOC/SOCOM, making it hard for them to maintain readiness.  For example, RC CA (and PSYOP) units are often unable to participate in pre-deployment training, to include mission readiness exercises, with brigade combat teams (BCTs) that they will support in OEF or OIF because of the limited number of training days afforded to FORSCOM RC units.


Other recommendations include “additional training for civil affairs personnel in strategic and operational civil affairs competencies” and a requirement for “civil affairs personnel with identified functional specialties to take appropriate civil sector competency tests to validate and classify the achieved level of functional skills.”   Taken in context of the report, the “additional training” reads like more professional military education for civil affairs officers. However, I feel additional training is more important for those “civil affairs personnel with identified functional specialties” that CSIS want to test.


Who are these personnel with identified functional specialties? Within USACAPOC and its CA units there are 624 billets for experts in fourteen civilian skill sets: Public Administration, Environmental Management, Public Safety, Economic Development, Food and Agriculture, Civil Supply, Public Works and Utilities, Public Transportation, Public Communications, Public Health, Cultural Relations, Public Education, Civil Information and International Law.  Many of these billets are filled by officers whom do not have the requisite civilian training or experience. However, these officers have shown a willingness to deploy repeatedly into harm’s way. The Army would do well to provide these officers with the requisite training before testing them.  As USACAPOC recruits, it should be able to offer direct commissions at the field grade level to highly qualified civilians with the right credentials who are otherwise deployable. USACAPOC should also be able to fund contracts to officers who have deployed to OEF and OIF that would send them to graduate school to acquire the required skills in exchange for an additional service obligation.


Another CSIS recommendation is to “Create active component civil affairs structure to integrate at all echelons (division/equivalent and below) in Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.”  The Marines still rely on the 3rd and 4th USMCR Civil Affairs Groups, about 300 RC Marines for CA support and is detailing AC Marine artillery batteries to serve as CA. The Navy has developed a multi-compo Maritime Civil Affairs Group of about 330 officers and Sailors. The Army has built the 95thCA Brigade to support special operation forces (SOF) and plans to build, beginning in 2011, a second AC CA brigade of five battalions and thirty 32-man companies to support BCT rotations.


The Army is taking the lead in growing AC CA capabilities. However, will its additional AC CA brigade be the best way to integrate CA at all echelons? Some have argued the best way to integrate CA into the Army BCTs is to make a CA company organic to each AC and ARNG BCT.  BCTs have organic signal, engineer, military police, logistics and fire support. By making CA organic to the BCT, CA will be there for all pre-deployment training.  Some have argued that AC CA should remain outside of the BCT construct to allow it to concentrate on regional expertise. There is a lot to this argument. Still, I think that it is safe to argue that all BCTs will be rotating through Afghanistan and other parts of the Muslim world for years to come. AC CA companies organic BCTs can share their regional and cultural expertise with the rest of the Soldiers in their BCT, making them more effective in COIN and stability operations. Under this proposal, United States Army Reserve CA units would serve at echelons above the BCT and help staff provincial reconstruction teams and ministerial advisor teams.


The growth in Army CA, both AC and RC, is a move in the right direction that will help address concerns raised by James Dobbins and Secretary Gates. In addition to thirty AC CA companies for GPF support and another RC CA brigade, additional civilian training for RC CA officers serving in functional specialist billets will go even further.

Responsibility to Prevent

September 3, 2009

Bridget Moix of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) (Quakers) writes:
“As an NGO that works on preventing deadly conflict, atrocities, and genocide, we believe there is a lot that both civil society and civilian institutions can do. But, the focus of R2P needs to be on much earlier prevention, rather than late reaction after the killing is underway.”

Bridget goes on to say that “Rather than focusing on late intervention through military force, Congress should work to strengthen civilian tools and structures that can prevent conflicts from becoming violent and address the conditions that may lead to genocide. Such an approach would save both lives and money. According to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, the international community could have saved $130 billion during the 1990s and averted direct military interventions by employing preventive approaches to conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, the Persian Gulf, Cambodia, and El Salvador.”

FCNL has an excellent report titled “Responsibility to Prevent” which you will see in the links on the right of this page. As our first Postmaster General said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventative diplomacy, preventative mil to mil engagements, and well-coordinated strategic communications can go a long way towards preventing violent conflicts and mass atrocities. All that not being enough, our financial and moral support of UN peacekeeping missions in places such as Haiti, Darfur and the Congo, can help keep the peace or at least slow the killing.

The genocide in Rwanda has often been chalked up a “another UN failure.” In all fairness, the UN commander was given less than half the troops he asked for and was given lightly armed paratroopers when he specifically requested armored mechanized forces to help deter renewed violence. He gave his headquarters in NYC over two months warning before the killing started in April, 1994. The United States had the ability to jam broadcasts by Hutu radio directing the slaughter, but chose not to. Many other developed countries had the ability to intervene as well and chose not to. The UN does not have its own standing military (and I don’t think I would want it to). We can’t expect UN peacekeeping missions to perform miracles if we won’t help man or equip them or provide them high-tech, often non-kinetic systems that only the wealthies countries possess.

The US Department of State is now helping to equip UN peacekeeping force through it Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). One of the first nations to step up to the plate to help prevent genocide was Rwanda. As Fox News noted
“Rwanda was the first to deploy peacekeepers to the violent Darfur region in a joint African Union-U.N. mission. The United States has trained nearly 7,000 Rwandan troops and spent more than $17 million to equip and airlift Rwandan troops into the region. (See link “Bush Calls on Nations” at right.)

The efforts of African peacekeepers that we have helped train and equip has helped slow the killing in such places as Darfur. Still, this may not be enough. Like the old Hallmark ad, “When you care enough to send the very best” nothing sends the message louder than putting American boots on the ground. It is better to put a few those boots on the ground and deter the killing spree than it is to wait and send signifantly more for mop up operations.

Civil Military Integration, the 4th Convention and R2P

September 2, 2009

In this posting I will try to disturb two birds with one stone without myself committing any mass atrocities. First bird is civil-military relations. The second bird is civil-military integration in the midst of an intervention to halt a mass atrocity under the auspices of Responsibility to Protect (R2P.)

I was working on a presentation about civil-military coordination specific to “organizations of a non-military character” (ICRC, NGOs) to be given to War College students, some of whom may have little knowledge of these organizations. In the “why this is important” portion of the brief I drew heavily from the 4th Geneva Convention, (relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) and Principles of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes. (See links at right.)

Paragraph 5 of Annex I, Recommendations to the governments of disaster affected countries of The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief states that “In the event of armed conflict, relief actions are governed by the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.”

Assuming those relevant provision of international humanitarian law are found in Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, these provisions may come as a surprise to many military and civilian actors in non-permissive environments and may contradict current guidelines about relations between military and civilian actors.

Case in point, the “Guidelines for Relations Between U.S. Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations in Hostile or Potentially Hostile Environments,” which bares the logos of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Department of Defense, and the American Council for Voluntary International Action (InterAction), a (link at right) states that: “U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should avoid interfering with NGHO relief efforts directed toward segments of the civilian population that the military may regard as unfriendly” and “U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should respect the desire of NGHOs not to serve as implementing partners for the military in conducting relief activities. However, individual NGOs may seek to cooperate with the military, in which case such cooperation will be carried out with due regard to avoid¬ing compromise of the security, safety, and independence of the NGHO community at large, NGHO representatives, or public perceptions of their independence.”

What does “avoid interfering with NGHO relief efforts” mean to InterAction members and other NGHOs not affiliated with InterAction, be they American NGHOs or otherwise? Does this mean that NGHO shipments of humanitarian aid are not subject to being stopped and thoroughly searched my military forces? I remember during my first rotation in Kosovo an incident where an NGHO tried to run a checkpoint in the American sector, and another case where an ambulance donated by an NGHO was used in an attempt to smuggle weapons into Mitrovica. U.S. and coalition military forces may have good, legally valid reasons to search NGHO shipments of humanitarian assistance. As article 23 of the 4th Geneva Convention states:

The obligation of a High Contracting Party to allow the free passage of the consignments indicated in the preceding paragraph is subject to the condition that this Party is satisfied that there are no serious reasons for fearing: (a) that the consignments may be diverted from their destination,(b) that the control may not be effective, or(c) that a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy through the substitution of the above-mentioned consignments for goods which would otherwise be provided or produced by the enemy or through the release of such material, services or facilities as would otherwise be required for the production of such goods.

While the 4th Convention recognizes that militaries have an obligation to look after the needs of civilian populations under their control and that they should facilitate the work of NGHOs that choose to help meet those needs, the Convention has a rather narrow definition of needs that militaries are obligated to see met:

Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.

Here the High Contracting Parties are taking precautions to ensure that while trying to take care of civilian non-combatants that they are not sustaining military-aged males and females. (In 1949 they had not envisioned the Lord’s Resistance Army and its conscription of young children.) This guidance flies in the face of the aims of most NGHOs who want to distribute aid impartially to all people in need, regardless of their age or loyalties.

Back to my “why this is important” portion of my slide show. I cited article 61 of the 4th Convention to explain to students the importance of working with ICRC and NGOs:
“The distribution of the relief consignments referred to in the foregoing Articles shall be carried out with the cooperation and under the supervision of the Protecting Power. This duty may also be delegated, by agreement between the Occupying Power and the Protecting Power, to a neutral Power, to the International Committee of the Red Cross or to any other impartial humanitarian body.”

At this point, H. Roy Williams, President of the Center for Humanitarian Cooperation ( , gave me a better perspective of the realities on the ground based on his many years arranging humanitarian assistance for distressed population in numerous conflict zones:
“All this is true, but what I am trying to point out is that the convention is aimed at assigning responsibility following armed conflict. How one meets that responsibility is another matter. Also, the convention article only applies following a state of conflict where there is a victorious military. Most situations these folks will face in the future are not likely to be of that nature as numerous statements from officialdom in Washington indicate.

Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, resulted from a combination of political, social, and historical issues. The concept of non-intervention as an assumption of international behavior played and still plays a major role as the book “A Problem from Hell” on the UN and our failure to act as the genocide unfolded clearly demonstrates. The role of France, for example, has never been made clear and other countries had the concept of Francophone Africa very much in mind when considering what to do. I remember the French establishing Zone Turquoise as a sort of safe haven for some Hutu after Kigali fell to the RPF which, as you know, had been training for years in Uganda for a return. Establishing this Zone actually served to spur the genocide as the Genocidaires saw this as encouraging their efforts and the French did nothing to stop the provocation by radio or arrest those they knew to be complicit. I cite this as an indication of how complicated the situation was as establishing this area was actually the result of a UZN resolution notwithstanding the outcome.

R2P (Responsibility to Protect) is an attempt to get around this inertia of the international community. Also, it is worth noting that the RPF was training to return from Uganda for years.

In short, the relation between the military and NGOs and other humanitarian groups is not a function of the protocol. The references you cite such as the USIP Guide and the OCHA Guidelines never even refer to it. My concern is that highlighting it in what is a limited and probably outdated context sends a message with little relation to the reality of civil/military interaction.”

My reading of the Convention is that it does apply to signatories time of war, both wars between High Contracting Parties and wars within the boundary of a High Contracting Party (civil war or insurgency.) But Roy raises an excellent point. This treaty was published after the conclusion of World War II and before the losers of that war were totally rehabilitated and welcome members of the IC. This doesn’t mean that the drafters and signatories were totally ignorant of the French Resistance or Tito’s Partisans, but chances are they were more focused on wars between major powers. I don’t think the High Contracting Parties anticipated all the “wars of national liberation,” civil wars and bouts of ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence that we have witnessed since 1949. I can’t explain why USIP and OCHA guidelines don’t reference the treaty. I think they should, since it is international law related to the humanitarian community of practice as well as the nations that ratified it.

I think Roy’s email to me addressed some of the intricacies of civil-military integration in response to mass atrocities. It is hard to help victims without helping perpetrators if you are trying to be neutral and help a very large number of needy people. Take it a step further, if an NGHO tries to act in accordance with the 4th Convention and assist a nation’s military in meeting its obligation to the civilian population under its control, it can find itself again in an uncomfortable position visa vis its own charter. A good example of this is the ongoing humanitarian operation in Sri Lanka. (See link “Sri Lanka keeps refugees in camp that aid built” at right.) Humanitarian organizations, acting in good faith, helped build a camp for civilians displaced by the recent fighting between the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers. It now appears the Sri Lankan military is controlling access to and egress from the camp. Is this for the protection of camp residents or is it an effort to deny any remaining Tigers access to the civilian population?

Finally, Lisa Schirch, Director of the 3D Security Initiative notes: “In today’s world, the line between the military and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is blurring at exponential speed.” (See link at right.) This can mean either or both of two things: more conflict between militaries and humanitarian actors or more cooperation. The two are not mutually exclusive, as there many different zones of conflicts, many militaries and many NGHOs. Ideally, with proper education and training, we will see more cooperation.

Women at War

August 20, 2009

Women in combat are nothing new, though war has historically been a male-dominated venue. Next week the United States Army recognizes the contributions of women in fighting our Nation’s wars in a series of luncheons were distinguished women warriors will share their experiences with audiences at garrisons around the globe. “Women at Arms” is the title of a New York Times series on the topic. (See link “Women at Arms” at right.) The Times series is pretty much full spectrum, with a lot of focus on the “manly stuff of combat.” ABC news ran a story recently on the efforts of our Marines to use female Marines to collect human intelligence from Afghan women and to further encourage these women to keep their men from supporting the Taliban. (See link “Marines Try a Woman’s Touch” at right.) The Marines are demonstrating cultural sensitivity and out of the box thinking in their efforts to support counter-insurgency operations through the use of their “Lioness” unit.

Out NATO allies and their Civil-Military Co-Operation Centre of Excellence (CCOE), at have devoted much time and effort to studying women in combat and have produced some worthwhile studies of not just women, but the at times confusing topics of sexuality and gender and how a clearer understanding of these topics enhances combat effectiveness, especially in stability operations. As one CCOE publication, GENDER MAKES SENSE (link “CCOE GENDER MAKES SENSE” at right), states:

Why should Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC), as a force capability
within NATO, incorporate gender awareness (GA) into NATO missions?
Simply because from previous peace operations we have learned that it
contributes greatly to the success of the mission. In addition, it
improves the safety of the military organisation. Thus, gender
awareness is not just an obligation, it is an absolute necessity.

GENDER MAKES SENSE provides useful information on how NATO military should interact with women during the conduct of peacekeeping and stability operations and includes suggestions for facilitating the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of female combatants. This publication is not focused only on the gentler sex, but also takes up the not insignificant issues of the relationship between beards, rifles and manliness in certain cultures. (Hint, they are not all Taliban, just a bit insecure, so don’t immediately shoot them on site.)

To take this a step further, into stability operations and hopefully conflict transformation, I would like to point out the work of certain NGOs such as “Pennies for Peace.” Pennies for Peace receives no funding the United States Government and is by no means a partner of US or NATO military, nor does it serve as a force multiplier, but it is part of the environment in Afghanistan. It does not support anyone fighting in Afghanistan. What it does support is the education of young Afghan girls by building and equipping schools for that purpose. Many believe that educated women are less likely to let their babies grow up to be Taliban. (See link to “Teach a Girl, Change the World” at right for more information about this NGO and its programs.)

A good friend once told me that electrification and female education programs showed the greatest payoff in economic development and stabilization. With that in mind, as we consider “people’s war” and attempt to fight counterinsurgencies that are “80% political and 20% military” and dissuade disgruntled “non-compliant actors” from becoming “irregular adversaries” and insurgents, we should enlist as many women overseas to join us. This can be controversial. When you teach women to read and write and show them there is more to being a woman than having seven to ten children (and preferably boys), you upset certain mullahs and mujahedeen. But there are certain men, even in Afghanistan, who appreciate intelligent women, women who can persuade them not to fight.

Is Nation-Building Stillborn?

August 17, 2009

Recent news and punditry out of Afghanistan raises the question: Is nation-building stillborn? After last year’s roll out of FM3-07, Stability Operations, stability operations has been overshadowed by irregular warfare throughout much of the U.S. military, and some have noted the presence of a “warfighter insurgency” within DoD, not unlike a previous intellectual movement within our Army that convinced President Bush that our military would conduct no more nation-building. To add insult to injury, various allied statesmen and generals tell us it will take forty years to make a lasting difference in Afghanistan or that we never will, pointing towards the futility of nation-building. (See links at right: “Expert: Afghanistan Policy Bound To Fail” and “General Sir David Richards: Afghanistan will take 40 years.”)

Forty years is too long for most of us, but is it too long for the nation? After our own Civil War, battle fatigue set in after twelve years of reconstruction and the United States Army (and Congress) declared victory and brought the troops home, arguably leaving it to the second Johnson Administration and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to finish the true political rehabilitation of the South. (A colleague of mine pointed out that if you read congressional testimony rendered by Army leadership during our own reconstruction, it reads very, very much like testimony about Iraq.) From a historical perspective, it can be argued that the United States government was penny-wise and pound foolish when it came to nation building after our own civil war.

The United States Government has not shied from investing forty years conducting nation in other countries. Japan and the Republic of Korea come to mind in this regard.

By the end of World War II, Japan had suffered extensive damage and death and was a shadow of its former self. The U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur contributed to some serious constitution-writing, economic development and other forms of nation-building during their tenure in Japan.

Our involvement in nation-building in the ROK goes back to 1945, when our Embassy and what would later become Joint-US Military Assistance Group Korea (JUSMAG-K) helped take control of the southern half of the Korean peninsula once the Japanese Army left. The Embassy and JUSMAG-K helped stand up the ROK security forces. During the fighting in Korea from 1950 through 1953 we would lose over 35,000 U.S. servicemen killed in action and many more wounded, but nation-building resumed quickly after the signing of the Armistice between the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China and North Korea.

For twenty years after the Armistice was signed in 1953 we kept two Infantry divisions in the ROK. Our United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed to nation-building in the ROK through its many development programs and the USG funded a major portion of ROKG operations for many years. (Into the early 1970s, the per capita GDP in North Korea was higher than that of the ROK.) The U.S. military expenditure on behalf of the ROK was not unrequited. Over an eight year period, the ROK sent over 320,000 Soldiers and Marines to fight along U.S. troops in Vietnam as part of our containment strategy. The ROK armed forces would suffer over 4,000 killed in Vietnam, almost as many ROK deaths suffered by ROK military, police and civilian during attacks by North Korean commandos during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We pulled our 7th Infantry Division out the ROK in the 1970s, but we still keep the 2nd Division headquarters, a heavy brigade combat team, a fires brigade and an air defense brigade in the ROK, not to mention numerous fighter squadrons.

Our stay in the ROK was not without controversy. Presidents Nixon and Carter both attempted to pull U.S. military out of the ROK in order to save money and conserve military power, and President Regan had to intervene to save the life of then ROK dissident, later ROK President Kim, De-Jung. Many of US were not satisfied with the ROK’s march towards democracy, feeling President Park, Chung Hee was too heavy handed. (To Park’s credit, once he came to power in a coup, he took off his uniform and never wore it again. He stood for reelection six times before he was assassinated.) Park’s immediate successors were suspect with many human rights critics, and it was not until the 1988 Olympics in Seoul that many of US gave the ROK democracy our stamp of approval. Good governance aside, the ROK outdid itself in economic development, growing, with a dearth of any resources except its people from a third world agrarian economy to a first world information and manufacturing economy. More importantly, in the ROK, the wealth generated during its transformation has trickled down, and the average ROK youth is much better fed and educated than his cousin in North Korea. Much of the success of the ROK in its own nation-building can be attributed to the patience of support of the USG defense, diplomatic and development communities.

We must give credit where credit is due. For all of MacArthur’s brilliance as Emperor of Japan (and many in the ROK admire him still to this day), and for all of the humanitarian assistance and financial aid we gave Japan and the ROK early on, these two great nations did most of their own nation building. Still, it did take a good deal of commitment from our government and discipline and knowledge from our troops to help them along. Questions remain: Do the people of Afghanistan have the same cultural wherewithal to rebuild their society as did the people of the ROK and Japan? With our current emphasis on irregular warfare at the expense of stability operations, are U.S. forces properly trained and equipped to assist in the rebuilding of Afghan society?