Academic journal article McNair Papers

7. A Model for Peacetime Interagency Cooperation

Academic journal article McNair Papers

7. A Model for Peacetime Interagency Cooperation

Article excerpt

   It is essential to apreciate the strength of what I call
   bureaucratic faultlines--policy areas where agencies have
   overlapping responsibilities and very distinctive institutional
   interests and perspectives. The most important faultline of this
   sort occcurs at the intersection of political and military affairs.
   ... What is required is not coordination in an administrative
   or technical sense but the integration of divergent (and
   sometimes mutually antagonistic) perspectives through the
   active exercise of strategic thought)

   Carnes Lord

All Unified Commands have been dealing with the issues of working with multiple agencies of government, but throughout the cold war the primary concern of most commands was with warfighting strategies to counter the Soviets. SOUTHCOM has been the exception. The Unified Command Plan assigned an Area of Responsibility to SOUTHCOM that has been dominated by threats and conditions suggesting military operations other than war for their resolution. These operations place a premium on integrating different perspectives and capabilities, and establishing interagency teamwork. Military operations such as combatting terrorism, nation assistance (foreign internal defense, security assistance), support to insurgencies, peace operations, and civil support thrust SOUTHCOM into a multiagency arena from its beginning in 1947. (2)

Today, the Unified Commands find themselves operating in regions containing vast "grey areas" where some governments cannot control their cities, regions, or the fundamental functions and institutions of their societies. Dr. William J. Olson has described a new world disorder that will place demands upon the CINCs as they structure engagement strategies:

   What is the U.S. and the international community being called
   upon to do? Unilaterally or through the U.N., the demand now
   extends to peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, internal
   security, refugee management on a colossal scale, development
   assistance in deteriorating situations, environment damage
   assistance, disease control and disaster relief, famine relief, and
   drug-control assistance. In essence, the demand is for the
   international community to substitute for local government, to
   deliver the basic goods of government to societies where all or
   most of the attributes of governance have failed or fallen into
   disrepute. (3)

As the CINCs renew their regional strategies, an appreciation of the threat will have to consider the "consequences of instability that range from terrorism, insurgency, and illegal drug trafficking to warlordism, militant fundamentalism, ethnic cleansing, civil war, and regional wars." (4) The environment at the turn of this century will make necessary the artful combination of all the elements of our national power if we are to overcome the tyranny of transnational threats and internal disorder. Put directly, interagency cooperation will be the foundation for any strategic vision of peacetime engagement.


Cooperative efforts can foster integration of multiagency capabilities, but making this happen often becomes problematic. Ideal solutions such as one inspired by Marine Corps Manual FMFM 1-2 (discussed in chapter 2) proffer straight-forward guidelines for attacking functional problems on a regional basis:

* Designate an interagency leader and give him the wherewithal to get the job done.

* Assign to one leader the operating authority, planning responsibility, and responsibility for the outcome.

* Provide top-down strategic guidance, but encourage decentralized execution in the region.

Yet, such a scheme may seem too idealistic or improvident to practitioners in the field. As Ambassador Edwin Corr suggested, "We want to maximize unity of effort, but you are never going to fully achieve it . …

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