Military operations may neutralize immediate kinetic threats and strategic communications may make promises, but enduring change comes from systemic overhauls that stabilize unstable regions. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for stability and denial of sanctuary for violent extremism, terrorism, and insurgency. These are the real propaganda of deeds but without competent and comprehensive action in these areas, military and diplomatic actions are simply a waste of time, money, and life.
Bullets and bombs represent short-term tactical responses to a much larger strategic dilemma. Any text worth reading on insurgency or counterinsurgency recognizes and emphasizes the operational and strategic center of gravity is the people. Failing to address grinding poverty and disillusionment in regions creates fertile breeding grounds for extremists, terrorists, and insurgents to attack the national interests of the United States.
As Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) puts it:
In recent years, our government has cobbled together plans, people and projects to respond to post-conflict development in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The efforts of those engaged have been valiant, but these emergencies have been complex and time sensitive. Our ad hoc approach has been inadequate, slow and inefficient. Our lack of preparation for immediate stabilization contingencies has made our subsequent reconstruction efforts more difficult and expensive,” Lugar said. “We can and must do better engaging our civilian expertise in the world, to more quickly move to the next phase beyond the outstanding work of our military.
We must also prepare for unknown future conflicts. If we are to win the war on terrorism, we cannot allow states to crumble or remain incapable of governing. A delay in our response can mean the difference between crisis and stabilized success. The United States must be able to respond to a variety of international crises, both in civilian agency response to a crisis or as an effective civilian partner to our troops in a conflict or post-conflict environment.
To this end, Defense Authorization Bill S. 3001 will include establish and fund S/CRS, the State Department’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. Aggressively supported by Senators Lugar and Joe Biden (D-DE), the bill will:
- establishes in law the office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and stabilization at the State Department;
- supports the President’s 2009 budget request for $248 million for the purpose of enabling United States civilian stabilization capabilities through the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization;
- authorizes assistance for stabilization and reconstruction in a country or region the President determines is at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife;
- establishes and maintains a Response Readiness Corps of government civilians with an active and standby component, trained and ready to deploy on short notice in support of U.S. crisis response;
- establishes a Civilian Reserve Corps to deepen the pool of civilian experts trained and ready to deploy expeditiously in support of U.S. crisis response; and
- directs the development of an interagency strategy to rapidly and effectively respond when stabilization and reconstruction operations are required.
Now, let’s make sure it does get passed.
- In-sourcing the Tools of National Power for Success and Security
- F. Jordan Evert’s CSM article, In Afghanistan, Hit ‘Em Where They Aren’t