NATION BUIDLING - A BAD IDEA WHO'S TIME HAS COME?
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Transcripts - NATION BUIDLING - A BAD IDEA WHO'S TIME HAS COME?
USAWC STRATEGY RESEARCH PROJECT
NATION BUILDING: A BAD IDEA WHO’S TIME HAS COME?
Lieutenant Colonel Burdett K. Thompson
United States Army
Colonel Kevin Weddle
This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of
Strategic Studies Degree. The views expressed in this student academic research
paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the
Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
U.S. Army War College
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AUTHOR: Lieutenant Colonel Burdett K. Thompson
TITLE: Nation Building: A Bad Idea Who’s Time Has Come?
FORMAT: Strategy Research Project
DATE: 19 March 2004 PAGES: 30 CLASSIFICATION: Unclassified
For over 50 years, the United States military has focused on major wars and the ability to mass
adequate land, air and sea power to defeat a global foe. Ironically while preparing for such a
war, United States forces have routinely engaged in smaller-scale operations. The military has
been required to combat terrorism, fight insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, conduct non-
combatant evacuations from war zones, strengthen friendly governments, provide humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief, and participate in countless peacekeeping operations and most
recently conduct state stabilization and reconstruction. The recent trend, however is that these
operations other than war have rapidly moved from the sidelines to the center court, and in the
process they have raised valid questions about the force structure, doctrine and use of the
United States armed forces specifically in Phase IV Transition operations. The current National
Security Strategy of the United States makes it likely that increased numbers of American
armed forces will be engaged abroad in coming years carrying out a range of missions from war
fighting to nation building. It appears that operations other than war will continue to play an
important role in our National Security Strategy and the Army will bear the brunt of these efforts.
The challenge is to determine the proper force structure and doctrine required to conduct these
operations over the long haul. Done well, the military’s support in these operations will go a
long way in ensuring progress toward United States security goals. As we enter the Twenty-first
Century it is crucial that we understand the expanded role the Army could potentially play as
globalization increases. The purpose of this study is to provide the reader with a better
understanding of the current challenges that our Army faces. The paper will examine issues
specifically associated with Phase IV Transition and post-conflict operations. The paper will
provide a brief survey of United States historical experiences in nation building and their
relevance today and for the future. Finally, the paper will look at potential options and make
recommendations that could enhance our success in nation building operations in the future.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
NATION BUILDING: A BAD IDEA WHO’S TIME HAS COME? ................................................................1
AS THE WORLD TURNS................................................................................................................1
WE DON’T DO OCCUPATIONS? LESSONS FROM THE PAST............................................2
SUPERPOWERS DON’T DO WINDOWS....................................................................................7
IF NOT WINDOWS – THEN WHAT?.............................................................................................7
TRAINING READINESS: JUST ENOUGH AND JUST IN TIME ...............................................8
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? ...........................................................................................10
IF IT’S NOT BROKE DON’T FIX IT..............................................................................................11
SPECIALIZED PEACEKEEPING UNITS (SPKUS)...................................................................11
MULTI-PURPOSE UNITS (MPUS)..............................................................................................13
NATION BUILDING: A BAD IDEA WHO’S TIME HAS COME?
Our military requires more than good treatment. It needs the rallying point of a
defining mission and that mission is to deter wars – and win wars when
deterrence fails. Sending our military on vague, aimless and endless
deployments is the swift solvent of morale. We will not be permanent
peacekeepers, dividing warring parties. This is not our strength or our calling.1
- Governor George W. Bush, September 1999
You are requested to form a Defense Science Board Task Force addressing the
transition to and from Hostilities…Our military expeditions to Afghanistan and
Iraq are unlikely to be the last such excursions in the global war on terrorism.2
AS THE WORLD TURNS
It appears that the United States has once again come full circle in regards to the use of
military force in support of national objectives, in this case specifically nation building. During
the presidential campaign, then Governor George W. Bush’s line, was “an explicit condemnation
of Clinton/Gore foreign policy--specifically that the White House had stretched the military too
thin with peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans.” 3
Bush argued that
President William Clinton had failed to understand that the primary mission of the military was
deterrence, combat, and winning the nation’s wars. The “Let me tell you what else I’m worried
about line proved to be among the most popular in his stump speech, guaranteed to evoke an
eruption of applause from the conservatives who packed Bush's campaign rallies.”4
But, it seems now that the Bush administration has come face-to-face with the challenges
presented by the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Thus it has adopted a more realistic
set of objectives. The 2002 “National Security Strategy” describes this new world, where
America is threatened less by conquering states than by failing ones and where conflict is more
likely to occur within countries than between them.5
The strategy recognizes that threats can
suddenly emerge as state weakness rather than strength spreads conflict and chaos. It argues
that an environment of failed states, terrorism, weapons proliferation and political chaos may
have outgrown Cold War institutions and policies designed to deter, fight and win against a
different set of dangers.6
For over fifty years, the U. S. military has focused on fighting major wars and the ability to
mass the required land, sea and air power to engage a global adversary. But, times have
changed and as the National Security Strategy states, “it is time to reaffirm the essential role of
American military strength.”7
Ironically, while preparing for a conventional war the United States
has routinely engaged its forces in smaller-scale operations. The military combated terrorism,
fought insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, conducted non-combatant evacuations from war
zones, strengthened friendly governments, provided humanitarian assistance, and executed
countless peacekeeping operations. But as retired Marine General Anthony Zinni states, we are
“still trying to fight our kind of war – be it World War II or Desert Storm – we ignore the real
warfighting requirements of today. My generation has not been well prepared for this future,
because we resisted the idea.”8
President Bush has acknowledged the recent trends as well
and points out that "operations other than war" have moved from the sidelines to center court
and in the process have raised legitimate questions about the structure and roles of America’s
A recent memorandum from the Acting Under Secretary of Defense, Michael W. Wynne,
further illustrates that operations other than war have truly left the sidelines. He has directed
that a Defense Science Board Task Force form to look at the issue of transitions to and from
hostilities. The memorandum states that U.S. armed forces are capable of projecting force and
achieving conventional military victory. However, “we Americans will encounter significant
challenges following conventional military success as we seek to ensure stability, democracy,
human rights and a productive economy.”9
The purpose of this study is to address issues associated with a National Security
Strategy that has increased the likelihood that the United States will involve its military in post-
conflict operations, to include nation building. The paper will examine current policies regarding
stability operations, provide a brief survey of America’s historical experiences in nation building
and their relevance today, and examine issues specifically associated with the use of
conventional forces in nation building. Finally, it will examine options and make
recommendations that could enhance the potential for success in such operations in the future.
WE DON’T DO OCCUPATIONS? LESSONS FROM THE PAST
“Every time they do a post-war occupation, they do it like it’s the first time, and
they also do it like it’s the last time they’ll ever have to do it. We can’t change the
mistakes we made of Iraq, but we can try to avoid them in the future.”10
Although nation building is not new to the Army, it has always been a controversial
mission for the American military, especially over the past three decades. “The United States
military has engaged in these non-traditional operations throughout its history, far more often
than it has waged conventional warfare.”
The Army has directly supervised the creation of
new governments in many beaten states, while performing countless nonviolent and nonmilitary
tasks and missions. What is remarkable are the similarities between nation building efforts in
these contingencies. Two of the most familiar success stories are Germany and Japan at the
end of WWII. There are, however, other cases that get less attention, such as the Mexican
War, reconstruction at the close of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World War I.
Recent interventions that included governance responsibilities in the post-conflict phase took
place during the Cold War as well. They include the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in
1983, Panama in 1989, as well as Somalia in 1993, Haiti in 1994 and the Balkans in 1995.
More recent examples that deserve considerable scrutiny include operations in Afghanistan and
Iraq. In fact, in over thirteen instances since the 1800s, soldiers under the theater commander’s
operational control, have supervised and implemented political and economic reconstitution.
A short historical review of the relevant operations illustrates the scale and frequency of
post-conflict and occupation operations as well as the level of exposure and experience U.S.
military has had in such operations. One can easy distinguish recurring themes and lessons –
temporary government, population control in general, suppression of residual resistance,
resettlement of displaced noncombatants, rejuvenation of supply and distribution systems,
infrastructure repair and institutional reform.
The Spanish American War illustrates several themes that resonate even today. The
Army conducted the Spanish American War with little preparation for post-conflict operations. In
performing administration duties the Army learned the limitations of its operational doctrine and
the requirement for political compromise. In post hostility operations the military had to deal
with the full range of modern politico-military problems: political intelligence, control of guerrilla
forces, military government, the arming of indigenous forces, and their terms of political
Although the Spanish American War consisted of rather quick and decisive combat
operations, the post-conflict operations were long and complex. This early act of nation building
has many similarities to the conditions that United States military forces are facing in Iraq today.
To illustrate the point, the following description of the events in Cuba following the Spanish
American War could be used to illustrate post-conflict operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom
The close of the war with Spain did not settle the Cuba problem. As a result of
years of rule and fighting, conditions in the island were in a deplorable state
when the fighting ended…the United States was committed to turning Cuba over
to its people. But to have withdrawn before economic and political stability was
established would have been both folly and evasion of responsibility. A
provisional government supported by an army of occupation therefore was set
up. It began at once the many tasks involved in the tremendous job of
rehabilitation and reform: feeding and clothing the starving; care of the sick;
cleaning up the accumulated filth of centuries in the cities; restoring agricultural
and commercial activity; disbanding the Cuban Army and paying its veterans;
organizing municipal governments, local guards, and courts; building roads and
other public works; establishing schools; and in general, preparing the people for
Additional lessons relevant today include: transition operations occurring simultaneously
with combat operations, command decisions required of military leaders, every soldier fulfilling
civil affairs responsibilities, the requirement to establish effective relationships with a multitude
of ethnic groups and the necessity for a balanced approach between force and restraint in
dealing with the populations.
The constabulary operations in Germany at the end of WWII provides an excellent
example of the Army’s ability, in a relatively short period of time, to establish and train a force
with specialized skills that can execute post-conflict operations. Planning began early to
determine the best way to accomplish the occupation duties in both Europe and Japan.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who understood the importance of the occupation, approved the
establishment of a Military District Constabulary in the two Military Districts in Germany.
Army established a School of Military Government to assist in the preparation of officers and
enlisted men to ensure that American soldiers were not falling into operations where they were
forced to learn on the fly.
One can draw many parallels in comparing the experiences of the U.S. military through
World War II with what is occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq today. Both involved similar non-
combat tasks that required highly trained and disciplined forces, extensive interaction with local
officials and civilians, decentralized operations different leader and staff skill sets, relationships
with governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, and restraint through the
minimum use of force. It would be beneficial to reexamine the constabulary operations in post
war Germany and Japan for applicability in today’s post-conflict operations in both Afghanistan
Postwar success in both Germany and Japan obviously owed much to the highly
developed economies of both nations. However, nation building is not principally about
economic reconstruction. It must have a significant aim of political transformation as well, which
can be confirmed by the United State’s inability to install viable democracies in Somalia, Haiti
and in Afghanistan.
Although one could write volumes about operations in Panama, Somalia, Haiti and in the
Balkans, this paper presents only a few observations here. One of the most apparent
observations is that each subsequent operation by the United States has been larger in scope
and more ambitious than its predecessor, operations in Afghanistan and Iraq confirm the trend.
Themes common to these operations include: tactically oriented planners and commanders
unprepared for the chaos of Phase IV operations; the campaign plans lack details on Phase IV
operations and the plan was distributed after hostilities began; difficulties in balancing
humanitarian/peacekeeping roles; difficulties of transitions; mission expansion into nation
building; importance of long-term commitment; a “top-down” approach to the reconstruction; and
the absolute necessity for interagency planning.20
In Iraq the United States “has taken on a task with a scope comparable to the
transformational attempts still under way in Bosnia and Kosovo and a scale comparable only to
the United States occupations of Germany and Japan.”21
A statement made by a former
member of the CIA illustrates the challenge the United States forces face in Iraq, “The Messiah
could not have organized a sufficient relief, reconstruction or humanitarian effort in that short a
Most observers agree that planning for the reconstruction phase in Operation Iraqi
Freedom was not as advanced as the planning undertaken by Central Command for the first
three phases of the war. Although one could attribute this to Carl von Clausewitz’s fog or
friction, it more likely represents a lack of acceptance or realization of the importance of the
political and economic reconstruction of Iraq as an integral part of the war or use of faulty
assumptions in the planning phase.23
If there is any lesson to be learned from our “post-conflict” involvement in Iraq to
date, it is that we have failed to adequately learn the lessons from previous such
The American experience with post-conflict and occupation operations is so extensive that
one can easily distinguish recurring themes. Listed in this section below are some of the
common themes and the salient lessons of the past. Obviously the list is not inclusive, but it
emphasizes many of the issues discussed above. A review of after action reports from each
operation suggests that these should not be new lessons. For clarity the themes and lessons
are broken down into the following categories:
o Limitations of phased planning and a plan predominantly focused on combat
o Faulty planning assumptions.
o Planners avoiding the "Phase IV dilemma”.
o Inadequate planning for Phase IV operations.
o Clearly identifying who is responsible for winning the peace.
o Underestimating post-conflict security requirements.
o Failure to institutionalize knowledge gained in stability operations.
o We have not integrated salient lessons into our doctrine, our training, and our
future planning for future operations.25
o Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities resulting in agencies being inhibited
and not making the proper investments needed to do these tasks better.
o A failure to regard soldiers with experience in the field of post-conflict operations
are not regarded as national assets, to be retained, rewarded for service, trained
further, and placed in positions to utilize the skills.26
o Understanding historical/cultural contexts.
o “Mission creep” - expansion of the mission into nation building.
o Active Component/Reserve Component mismatches.
o Combat Support/Combat Service Support shortages.
o Difficulty with transition to civilian agencies.
o Infrastructure repair and institutional reform.
o Force protection during transition.
o Re-establishing the rule of law.
o Rapid rebuilding of basic infrastructure.
These lessons and many others learned from recent post-conflict reconstruction
operations highlight the consistent mistakes that can and must be avoided. A clear lesson is the
importance of pre-conflict planning, preparation, communication, and coordination. Anticipating
and preparing for the countless tasks required in countries emerging from conflict is onerous,
but must be undertakenbefore the fighting starts if post-conflict reconstruction efforts are to be
effective once the hostilities cease. Simply “noting” lessons is not enough; we must “learn” from
these lessons. The United States and the international community must commit the resources,
military might, manpower, and time required in Iraq. We face a “Phase IV dilemma,” in Iraq, we
can’t stay forever, we can’t leave and we cannot afford to fail! What makes success in these
types of operations even more critical is that America’s international credibility is on the line.
SUPERPOWERS DON’T DO WINDOWS
It's the most difficult leadership experience I have ever had. Nothing quite
prepares you for this.
-- General Eric K. Shinseki
IF NOT WINDOWS – THEN WHAT?
Since the attacks on September 11th
, many Republicans have come to view stability
operations as even more relevant to American national security. In fact, based on the number
of soldiers engaged in peacekeeping, it has become the fastest-growing mission for the United
States military. “We could take or leave peacekeeping operations in the 1990s as witnesses by
our hasty departure from both Haiti and Somalia. The sense was that although pulling out might
be regrettable in terms of local conditions it was justifiable because the two countries were now
seen as a security threat to the United States."
It has become obvious now that failed states
such as Somalia and Afghanistan are potential havens for terrorists, and even though the
United States has significant forces engaged in peacekeeping operations, there may be more in
General Shinseki’s observations about his preparation for a peacekeeping operation, is a
common one. Peacekeeping operations in general and post-conflict operations in particular are
controversial missions and the Army does little to prepare for them. To make matters worse,
the institutional resistance in both the State and Defense Departments has been significant as
neither department considers nation building among its core missions. There is significant
cultural resistance in the military to any tasks that are not combat related. As the Stability Force
commander, General Shinseki felt that he confronted a “cultural bias” in the military and
specifically in the Army. Army doctrine-based training prepared him for warfighting and
leadership, but “there was not a clear doctrine for post-conflict stability operations.”
absence of a doctrine for an institution that is doctrine based presents a challenge when you
walk into in peacekeeping environment. You are in a kind of “roll-your-own situation.” This is a
revealing statement from a senior army general officer. The most remarkable fact, however, is
that he is not alone in his opinion; other senior officers who served in Bosnia made similar
Although the Army's performance in Bosnia is generally considered an overwhelming
success, many senior officers believe that they were not prepared for the experiences they
encountered in Bosnia. Were they trained? The answer is yes, but the training predominately
encompassed the art of warfighting and high-intensity conflict. But after the initial deployment in
Bosnia and after the prospects of conventional warfare had faded, it became increasingly
obvious that the skills acquired by individual soldiers up to general officers were not adequate
for the challenges confronted in Bosnia.
The most significant shortfall in a training strategy that focuses on preparation for major
combat operations with little regard for post hostility operations is in the area of readiness.
Arguably, the capability of United States armed forces to support and accomplish America’s
national security requirements is the ultimate measure of readiness.
TRAINING READINESS: JUST ENOUGH AND JUST IN TIME
It is undeniable that training is an essential prerequisite for effective military operations.
The same is true for post-conflict stability operations. The United States military can no longer
afford to “train for war and adapt for peace”. The military must stay prepared to fight and win
our nations wars, and retain the “capacity” to execute peace operations when called upon to do
It would not be a stretch to say that our actions in preparing for and executing
peacekeeping operations adhere to the following model - “Train for war adapt for peace, with
just enough and just in time!”
In reality, like combat operations “the U.S. has learned that the key elements of successful
stability operations are well trained and disciplined soldiers under the command of skilled and
competent leaders. Although American soldiers are highly trained and possess combat skills
that are easily transferable to the needs of post-conflict operations they still require the time to
adapt to the nature of the operation, its rules of engagement and its terms of reference.”
Another factor that impacts on training readiness is the duration of the stability operation.
Lengthy involvement in peacekeeping operations degrades combat skills and has a significant
impact on combat readiness. As a result, the trend is that combat troops are used for
peacekeeping only when necessary and those additional units, with post-conflict related skills,
are “cobbled” onto combat divisions as required to meet postwar demands.
In most cases the
armed forces however ill-prepared for the job at hand quickly adapted, figured out what they had
to do and did it with great success.
Although it is admirable that our troops and leaders are
agile and can “figure it out” they should be put in that position only by exception.
Morale problems stemming from prolonged deployments, equipment that wears out too
quickly, and decreased combat training levels, increase when troops execute non-combat
operations. Further exacerbating the military’s declining readiness is the tendency to pull troops
with high demand special skills from non-deployed units. A mission may affect non-deployed
units as well because they will not be able to train properly due to critical skill shortages.
concept of training readiness is well understood in the United States Army, but as Afghanistan
and Iraq have demonstrated, readiness for what happens after the fighting stops is just as
If military training for post hostilities is just enough and just in time, is Army doctrine any
better? The United States Army is a doctrine-driven institution but the one area of doctrine it
lacks is in post-conflict operations. In Bosnia, Army doctrine was largely inadequate in an
environment where American commanders were forced to wrestle with the political, diplomatic,
and military demands of stability operations. Almost from the inception of Implementation Force
operations, commanders found themselves in uncharted waters. Major General William Nash
described the problem as an “inner ear problem.” Having trained for thirty years to read a
battlefield, the general officers were now asked to read a “peacefield.”
The requirement to
train and develop senior leaders to read the “peacefield” and participation in stability operations
has largely escaped consideration.
The Army must place greater emphasis on the education of its officer corps. Education
must begin at the officer basic course and continue at all levels of the Professional Military
Education system. Officers at all grades will benefit from a focus on post-conflict stability
operations. Today’s officers are likely to be involved in other than war operations on multiple
occasions throughout their service. Geopolitical and cultural training should also be included in
the education effort and all officers should maintain proficiency in a foreign language throughout
General Officers interviewed in a 1999 study conducted by the United States Institute of
Peace singled out senior service colleges as the place where leadership training for stability
operations should occur and where the most curriculum development is needed. These
institutions must place greater emphasis on operations other than war, geopolitical issues and
Training and Doctrine Command must embrace the entire training effort for stability
operations, and the Army must incorporate these skills in its training base for captains, majors,
lieutenant colonels, and colonels. A doctrinal set of principles for the conduct of post-conflict
operations deserves attention. Along with the doctrine the training must crystallize the
fundamentals of this new skill set.
Clearly, there is a need to strike a balance. The United States cannot afford to win the
war but loose the peace. To win both the war and the peace will require that the Army must
review its institutional training base and build on this foundation without significantly reducing
conventional training while at the same time integrating new training aimed at supporting
twenty-first century peace operations.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
We have to stop making nation building a political football and recognize that it’s
a national competency we need to foster that we’re not going to be able to avoid
these kinds of activities.43
So, how do we handle this political football called nation building? According to Max Boot,
the Army must deal with the task of "imperial" policing. He states that though it is not a popular
duty, it is vital to safeguarding United States interests in the long run as are the more
conventional warfighting skills. “The Army brass should realize that battlefield victories in places
like Afghanistan and Iraq can easily be squandered if they do not do enough to win the
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations, Joseph J. Collins,
provides another perspective. Collins states that there is a “strong notion that the military exists
to deter, fight, and win wars, that’s it, and any other use of the military is some kind of borderline
abuse.” He points out that war and recovery are inseparable and occur almost simultaneously.
“People in the military have to realize that this is part of the strategic environment. And you do
not get to pick your strategic environment. You don’t always have the choice to play the game
the way you would like to play it. You have to adapt to the situation.”
The United States has yet to discover a workable stabilization strategy for use against
large populations that avoids significant troop commitments. Several countries have proposed
personnel policies that seek to avoid the painful arithmetic of large deployments. They conduct
extended tours of duty using deployed forces built around short-service conscripts or volunteers.
This may be a viable option, but so far most Western countries have chosen to rely on their
professional armies and the United States is no different.
Although there are many possible force structure options to deal with post hostilities
operations, this research paper will look at three alternatives that warrant consideration. The
three options are the steady state option, the specialized peacekeeping force, and the
adaptable multi-purpose unit options.
IF IT’S NOT BROKE DON’T FIX IT
The steady state option is straight forward and varies little from the Army’s current mode
of operation in dealing with post-conflict and peacekeeping operations. In essence the Army
would continue to be a “switch hitter”. Many in the Army feel that what the Army is doing now is
working, and there is no need for change and that we must continue to train for the high end of
the spectrum. Generally those in favor of the status quo realize that operations other than war
with their associated challenges will require significant pre-deployment training.
The military has demonstrated that it can adapt to operations other than war while
ramping up for deployment. However, the challenges experienced during the deployments to
Afghanistan and Iraq have rendered the “just enough training, just in time” option obsolete.
There is not ample time prior to deployment to train soldiers and leaders in the skills sets
required in for nation building operations. So, if the status quo is not acceptable what are the
options available? The remainder of this section will focus on the two options that are getting
the most attention by the Department of Defense, specialized peacekeeping forces and multi-
SPECIALIZED PEACEKEEPING UNITS (SPKUS)
During speaking engagements in 2003-2004, at the Army War College, three senior level
General Officers responded to the following question, is it time for the Army to establish SPKUs
or commands to respond to post hostility challenges? They all felt strongly that this was not a
good idea for the following reasons: the Army would lose deterrence value; there would not be
enough specialized forces; and those forces that existed would be overworked. All stated that
the Army must improve in both its effectiveness and efficiency, but they were not proponents of
specialized peacekeeping forces.
Interestingly, in a Washington Post article titled “Pentagon Considers Creating Postwar
Peacekeeping Forces”, Bradley Graham argued that the Pentagon is looking at creating
dedicated military forces that could be dispatched to trouble spots around the globe to conduct
peacekeeping and reconstruction after conflicts. “The idea is to forge deployable brigades or a
whole division out of engineers, military police, civil affairs officers and other specialists critical
to postwar operations.”
The new stabilization and reconstruction force would bridge the gap
between the end of decisive combat and the point at which a civilian-led, nation building effort is
up and running.
The force would be distinct from a proposed NATO rapid-response force and apart from
the U.N. The standing constabulary force would consist of troops from a range of countries -
but led and trained by the United States.
Secretary Rumsfeld has stated that “it would be
good for the United States to provide leadership to train other countries who desire to participate
in peacekeeping. The result would be a cadre of people who are trained, equipped, organized
and ready to work with each other."
Defense officials note that Secretary Rumsfeld's proposal is consistent with the aim of
limiting U.S. military overseas deployments. Though it would specialize a small number of
American troops in peacekeeping, it would also seek to enlist other countries to contribute the
majority of troops, with the promise of training by the United States. Creating a standing
international peacekeeping force led and trained by the United States would also allow the
Pentagon to exert considerably more control over peacekeeping than in the past. This proposal
has attracted significant opposition from senior Army leaders.
Another proponent of permanent constabulary forces is retired Vice Admiral Arthur
Cebrowski, the head of the Department of Defense Transformation effort. He argues that a
permanent post-conflict stabilization force is needed, but it must be on an equal footing with
combat units. Although many of the elements that would make up a post-conflict force such as
engineers and military police are already found within the military, their mere existence does not
necessarily constitute a post-conflict capability without proper organization and command and
During a conference in December 2003, the Fletcher Center for Technology and National
Security Policy looked at the issues associated with Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
and addressed the idea of standing peacekeeping forces. The attendees made the following
• Create two standing joint stabilization and reconstruction commands, one active
component and one reserve component division equivalents.
• Stabilization and reconstruction joint command plans, trains, exercises, develops
doctrine and deploys to the area of operations.
• Maximize jointness with Army lead.
• Capable of operating in hostile environment.
• Capable of operating under a joint command or as a separate Joint Task Force.
• Modular, scalable, tailorable for mission, embedded interagency.
• Provide link to non-governmental organization contractors to hand off to civilian
leadership for nation building.
Although the option of using specialized forces explicitly for post-conflict operations is
attractive, it is not the most optimal solution. As Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, troops that
are proficient in their warfighting skills are essential in both the decisive operations and
stabilization stage. As we are discovering in Iraq without security, peace will not follow and
progress will not be made. Based on current trends, it is unlikely that a specialized
peacekeeping force could meet the future demands of post-conflict operations. There simply
would not be enough of the specialized forces to go around, once again resulting in cobbling
forces together at the last minute. Another option which this paper recommends, is the adoption
of multi-purpose units.
MULTI-PURPOSE UNITS (MPUS)
Considering the future realities the Army will certainly face, MPUs make sense. The Chief
of Staff of the Army, General Schoomaker’s, brigade unit of action initiatives are more relevant
to a multi-purpose verses a specialized approach to stability operations. The MPUs would
maintain agility by mixing and matching subordinate forces according to the needs of the
mission resulting in a modular plug and play, multi-capable outfit. The MPUs appear to be a
valid option for the force the Chief of Staff of the Army envisions. This MPU option allows more
emphasis on focused training at all levels, including the leadership. The concept requires that a
set of key nation building tasks be identified, guidance provided to units, and these essential
tasks are added to unit Mission Essential Task Lists (METLs).
Adding non combat focused tasks to unit METLs challenges the conventional wisdom and
many feel that it will shift the primary focus of training away from warfighting. Combined with
the MPU approach, the ability to plug and play and identify the essential post-conflict tasks
would ensure that the United States Army would be postured to meet National Security Strategy
demands to provide ready and trained units to execute missions across the full-spectrum of
Conrad Crane in his study, Landpower and Crises: Army Roles and Missions in Smaller-
scale Contingencies during the 1990s , provides an excellent list of recommendations that may
assist the Army in better preparing itself to operate in “a future of continuous and cumulative
• Create truly multi-capable units structured, trained, and committed to both winning
in Major Theaters of War and handling the stability portion of small scale
• Increase the ability of units at all levels to train for, plan and execute stabilization
• Ensure adequate focus on the planning and execution of stabilization phase tasks
at the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.
• Conduct a complete review of the Army’s overall combat support/combat service
support (CS/CSS) force structure.
• Based on the review realign CS/CSS force structure between active and reserve
components to meet demands of SSCs.54
Although the list is certainly not all inclusive, the failure to address any of the issues will
have significant implications for the Army. Regardless of the force structure strategy the Army
selects the essential task is to improve and sustain the combat proficiency of our Army and its
capability to execute critical stability tasks. “One thing is certain the post-conflict mission is too
important and too hard to rely on cobbling forces together enroute to the objective.”55
Our primary mission is not to fight and win the nation’s wars, though that’s our
most important mission. We exist to serve the nation; however, the nation wants
us to serve wherever and whenever we are needed.56
General Byrnes sums it up best. Ultimately the armed forces will do what the nation
wants and will serve whenever and wherever it is needed. However the objective “is not to
ignore post-conflict challenges – shrinking from intervention, ousting regimes without
consideration for their replacement or performing only halfhearted reconstruction planning.”57
The challenges of preparing the armed forces to fight in major regional conflicts and other
military operations will require flexible and adaptive doctrine and a force structure that can meet
the dangers of a post 911 world. The basic tenets of our military policy and force structure
focus should remain conventional land warfare. The United States clearly needs the capabilities
that come with well-trained and equipped land forces. As long as it is the policy of this Nation to
respond to the types of operations we are currently engaged in we should build forces of
sufficient size and with the capability to operate across the full spectrum.58
The multi-purpose force approach will provide the flexible, adaptive doctrine and force
structure required in the increasingly complex post-conflict environment. As this paper
illustrates the specialized force approach to post-conflict and nation building operations is not
the most optimal solution. It is unlikely that a specialized force could meet the future demands
of stability operations. However, multi-purpose forces that are trained, equipped, with leaders
who are committed to both winning in Major Theaters of War and handling the stabilization
phase of small scale contingencies will ensure progress towards United States security goals.
Recently the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness told a group of
defense correspondents that in order to prevent future wars the United States military is in the
nation building business to stay and it seems unlikely that the Army will not continue to play a
significant role in the future.59
Like the Cold War, the global war of terror and its increased
requirement for post-conflict intervention is likely to preoccupy the United States for decades
and we must be prepared.
George W. Bush, “A Period of Consequences,” 23 September 1999; available from
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