Militarization of public diplomacy

Nicholas Kristof’s March 4, 2007, column, Aid Workers with Guns (sub req’d), raises the profile of our HOA (Horn of Africa) mission:

So that’s why the softer touch in Centcom’s strategy here is so welcome. It aims to help bring stability to northeastern Africa and to address humanitarian needs — knowing that humanitarian involvement will make us safer as well.

“The U.S. started to realize that there’s more to counterterrorism than capture-kill kinetics,” said Capt. Patrick Myers of the Navy, director of plans and policy here. “Our mission is 95 percent at least civil affairs. … It’s trying to get at the root causes of why people want to take on the U.S.”

One humanitarian mission for which the U.S. military is superbly prepared is responding to natural disasters. While the U.S. has spent vast sums broadcasting propaganda to the Muslim world, the two most successful efforts at winning good will both involved the military. One was the dispatch of soldiers to help Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami, and the other was the use of U.S. forces to help Pakistan after the Kashmir earthquake.

To be sure, the mission isn’t new, just gaining profile:

Pretty cool is CENTCOM’s plans to provide resources in HOA languages (Amharic, Somali, French, Arabic) to enhance the public diplomacy, but nothing but an empty template so far. Maybe they should have just linked to VOA’s HOA language service

More on militarization of humanitarian aid can be heard at JHU’s Rethinking War series, specifically Robert Kaplan’s seminar. I also recommend Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts on this topic.

Monday’s Mash-up

No time for blogging today, so a bunch of links to worthwhile reads:

Specifically for the public diplomacy audience:

Smart Power Equalizer, Part III: a Matter of Time

This is part III of a series of posts on my Smart Power Equalizer model. Part I introduced the model, graphically represented by an adaptation of the iTunes equalizer. Part II discussed the need to disaggregate the enemy (or simply “opponent”) to understand and contextualize the opponents. This post, part III, looks at Smart Power and Time.

Continue reading “Smart Power Equalizer, Part III: a Matter of Time

On military readiness and what happens after deployment

There are two hot topics of mine that fall the civil-military relations section of this blog: readiness and recruiting. The first might not be considered c-m at first, but the areas I’m looking have direct ownership in the civilian side of the equation. The second, the recruiting, falls within the c-m framework in our citizen army, the All Volunteer Force (AVF). So briefly, because it’s late and I have a lot more work to do…

First, from Phil Carter on the Washington Post’s announcement that “nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated ‘not ready'”:

In his 2000 acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, then-Gov. George W. Bush leveled the following criticism at the Clinton Administration and its management of military readiness in the wake of the Kosovo campaign:

“Little more than a — little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of President’s Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.

“But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report: “Not ready for duty, sir.” “

read the rest of Phil’s post here

Second, Noah Schachtman captures the terrible situation situation at Walter Reed and the deplorable support of our forces, as does Phil Carter. If you’re a family member of a person at Walter Reed and you had a son, nephew, or neighbor considering going into the service, what would you say? Tom Barnett in his JHU Rethinking War seminar commented on this very point a short while back.

Death Race 2007

Now here’s a challenging event: England’s Tough Guy (also see ESPN’s page on it here). I’ve done 52min 10k (Boots & Utes division) at Camp Pendleton’s Mud Run, raced the Mojave Death Race, done a fair amount of endurance racing (5 x Ironman tri’s, dozens of marathons, 50k’s, blah blah), and I was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March (Heavy Division), but these don’t compare to this race. Maybe in 2008 or 2009 I’ll “give it a go” and do an event with a “Jesus Bridge”, “Fiery Holes”, electric wire (watch the video on ESPN’s page). Anyone out there have experience with this event?

Smart Power Equalizer (part II): disaggregation

Last week I posted Smart Power Equalizer: finding the mix as the first of a multi-part series on the design and application of “Smart Power” to prevent, lessen, or terminate modern conflict. Mostly focused on counterinsurgency, it has obvious an application in fighting against a particular technique of conflict, terrorism, which generally requires substantial social support. This second part in the series comments on our mirroring and aggregation of the enemy that results in faulty strategy and tactics.

Continue reading “Smart Power Equalizer (part II): disaggregation