Civil-Military Responses to Security Challenges in Peace Operations: Ten Lessons from Kosovo
Cockell, John C., Global Governance
The complex environments in which peace operations have to function often pose difficult internal security challenges, such as the demilitarization of nonstate militias, control and seizure of heavy and light weapons, protection of humanitarian aid/zones, deterrence of anarchy and crime in situations of state collapse, prevention of interethnic violence, and control of porous and/or contested borders. Security sector reforms have been central to the mandates of Balkans peace operations, but difficulties in responding to specific security challenges have often led to operational setbacks in the field. Effective management of such challenges has thus been an increasingly important priority for both the United Nations and European security organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). But while NATO can provide the requisite forces for a strong military deterrent, it cannot contribute the political, administrative, legal, and economic elements necessary for effective security sector reform. Joint action by both military and civil actors is necessary for successful management of the security sector. And successful security sector management is in turn central to the broader strategic goal of fostering a sustainable peace-building dynamic. (1)
In this article, I examine the recent experience of civil-military responses to security sector issues in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). It should be noted here that UNMIK and KFOR have been the most successful complex Balkans operations to date for interorganizational interaction and have demonstrated that many post-Bosnia lessons were effectively applied in the international peacebuilding response to the 1999 Kosovo conflict. A comparison of evolving Balkans security sector action, from Bosnia and Eastern Slavonia to Kosovo, suggests that the civil-military interface should move from cooperative relations to coordinated unity of effort. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that Kosovo is not in a truly postconflict condition, as previous Balkans theaters have been. The key elements for "postconflict" status--a peace agreement and/or determination of a final end state for the territory--are glaringly absent in Kosovo and have been from the arrival of international actors in the contested province. Indeed, Kosovo's indeterminate political status is at the root of many of its most intractable threats to public security, including endemic violence against ethnic minorities, particularly Serbs, and the consequent emergence of polarized ethnic enclaves.
Civil-Military Interaction and the Imperative for Coordination
The inherent complexity of Balkans conflict environments has demanded interaction between NATO's military forces and the civilian organizations, such as the UN and the OSCE, also active in addressing security sector issues. The capacity of the UN is challenged where deterrent military force is needed in a rapid and massive manner. This need has been the norm for the Balkans, with Bosnia and Kosovo both requiring tens of thousands of well-equipped forces able to project a credible war-fighting face. The fact that NATO is the only organization in the region with the capacity to mount such missions was recognized early on by Kofi Annan. In 1993, he advocated UN-NATO cooperation in the delivery of missions that needed "peacekeeping with teeth," noting that their size and complexity make it "imperative to explore new avenues of cooperation with regional organizations such as NATO." (2)
The interrelated nature of security challenges in these missions has also meant that what used to be understood as a clear distinction between military and civil roles has become increasingly indistinct. While NATO has taken some concrete steps to institutionalize aspects of civil-military interaction in the field, these have generally been only to the extent of formalized cooperation. Military and civil actors are, however, increasingly having to address security sector issues in an overlapping and interdependent manner. In this context, a growing strategic interest is to apply comparative advantage in mission roles, a goal that implies the coordination of joint operational and tactical action to achieve shared objectives in the field. Coordination of joint action, in turn, requires a qualitative shift in civil-military interaction toward integrated planning and shared operations, with all the compromises implicit in loss of autonomy on both sides.
Coordination of joint civil-military action should ideally be pursued at three levels: strategic (i.e., between the organizations' headquarters decisionmaking bodies and secretariats); operational (i.e., theater-level headquarters for the mission area); and tactical (i.e., in field-level operations for mission components). (3) Most structured civil-military interaction in the Balkans has been at the middle, or operational, level. Tactical coordination is increasingly common but is more subject to ad hoc arrangements and variations. Least explored to date has been strategic coordination between headquarters in New York/Geneva, Brussels/Mons, and Vienna. These three levels of security sector management, and the imperative for coordinated civil-military action in each, are considered in turn in the following sections.
Strategic Coordination: Mandates and Mission Planning
One of the commonly noted differences between military and civilian organizations is that military planners tend to prepare for potential missions and plan resource allocations in advance. In contrast, many civilian organizations still plan missions after the mandate has been set by their relevant decisionmaking body (e.g., UN Security Council, OSCE Permanent Council). As a result, the potential for strategic coordination of mandates and planning to occur in advance of the deployment of combined civil-military assets on the ground has been largely unrealized, hampered in part by persistent differences in institutional cultures and resources and by a lack of transparent interaction.
Recent trends toward greater civil-military interaction in complex peace operations should incline mission planning staff in both military and civilian organizations to coordinate on mandates and mission structures in advance of final political decisions being taken. This would perhaps improve the likelihood of complex operational needs being identified and addressed with accurate personnel and resource allocations in advance. These requirements could be expressly stated to decisionmaking bodies, with mandates being finalized according to more detailed and situation-specific information. (4) While mandates should be as clear as possible in stating consolidated objectives for both military and civil actors, they should not be so specific as to restrict flexibility in the field. Unanticipated challenges, particularly as regards the need for military forces to provide various forms of support to civil authorities, are best confronted when mission managers/commanders have the freedom to quickly forge new arrangem ents in the field. KFOR, for example, has shifted from an initial concept of operations involving the outward deterrence of Serb-dominated Yugoslav security and paramilitary forces, to the inward protection of Serb minority enclaves and deterrence of Kosovar Albanian attacks on Serbs.
For improved strategic coordination, one recent study has proposed that integrated civil-military implementation staffs could provide a structured interface for the coordination of joint action on the planning and implementation of peace operations. (5) An established strategic interface could undertake joint contingency planning to meet such operational challenges as the …
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Publication information: Article title: Civil-Military Responses to Security Challenges in Peace Operations: Ten Lessons from Kosovo. Contributors: Cockell, John C. - Author. Journal title: Global Governance. Volume: 8. Issue: 4 Publication date: October-December 2002. Page number: 483+. © 2009 Lynne Rienner Publishers. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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