Executive Summary

By Gurney, D. H. | Joint Force Quarterly, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Executive Summary


Gurney, D. H., Joint Force Quarterly


Department of Defense (DOD) components have been explicitly directed to address and integrate stability operations-related concepts and capabilities across a panorama of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities, and applicable exercises, strategies, and plans. In this issue, Joint Force Quarterly examines current interagency cooperation and strategies under way in the broad and extremely complex category of stability operations.

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As delineated in the instruction quoted above, stability operations establish civil security and civil control, restore or provide essential services, repair critical infrastructure, and provide humanitarian assistance. The Armed Forces of the United States presently support foreign governments, their security forces, and international governmental organizations in disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating former belligerents into civil society, rehabilitating former belligerents and units into legitimate security forces, strengthening governance and the rule of law, and fostering economic stability and development. As one of our Forum authors notes, the conduct of stability operations is the next frontier in jointness, as it is especially dependent on effective partnering at all levels of seniority in mitigating contemporary national security risks. Adroitly integrated civilian and military efforts are essential to mission success.

The Forum kicks off with an essay by noted nationbuilding and Middle East security expert Dr. Seth Jones, whose recent book, In the Graveyard of Empires, is a study confined specifically to aspects of insurgency in Afghanistan. In this related essay, he asserts that U.S. stability and security strategy has been informed more by past experiences rebuilding nations with strong central governmental institutions than the opposite and unique condition in Afghanistan. He makes the case that a successful U.S. counterinsurgency strategy depends on improved cooperation with tribal and other community forces in Afghanistan, while maintaining a direct link to the Afghan government. He begins his argument by emphasizing the importance of protecting the population, a task that necessitates the development of the Afghan National Army and National Police, as well as counters to pervasive corruption with attendant improved governance. The great challenge to overcome is institutionalizing the central government's exclusive reliance on local security forces to establish order in rural areas. The author evaluates the history of local bottom-up (versus Federal top-down) security, a somewhat bifurcated system that improves legitimacy among tribal elements. This effort is what Dr. Jones refers to as a community defense strategy, tailored to ultimately orchestrate citizen support against insurgents. Jones points out that the last three decades of warfare in Afghanistan were littered with failed efforts to establish forces under the control of warlords whose fighters were not loyal to the local communities. He opines that when local forces are small, defensive, and geared toward protecting villages, they are less likely to be hijacked by regional warlords. Dr. Jones concludes by outlining a community defense initiative that needs careful monitoring and shaping by the Afghan government and international community.

Our second installment is from the U.S. Southern Command representative at the U. …

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