Academic journal article Military Review

"Stay the Course": Nine Planning Themes for Stability and Reconstruction Operations

Academic journal article Military Review

"Stay the Course": Nine Planning Themes for Stability and Reconstruction Operations

Article excerpt

The object in war is to attain a better peace.... If you concentrate exclusively on victory, with no thought for the after-effect..., it is almost certain that the peace will be a bad one, containing the germs of another war.--B.H. Liddell Hart (1)

WHEN U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to Phase III (Decisive Operations) of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) on 1 May 2003, one could almost hear the global sigh of relief from a world that naively assumed the "hard work" was finished. (2) But those in a position to appreciate the complex operational environment understood all too well that the hard work was far from over.

Operation Iraqi Freedom has been underway for over 2 years, during which time the Army has conducted decisive combat operations as well as stability and reconstruction operations. Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, explains why the United States executed OIF: "When other instruments of national power (diplomatic, economic, and informational) are unable or inappropriate to achieve national objectives or protect national interests, the U.S. national leadership may decide to conduct large-scale, sustained combat operations.... In such cases the goal is to win as quickly and with as few casualties as possible, achieving national objectives and concluding hostilities in terms favorable to the United States and its multinational partners." (3)

"Win quickly" the coalition did, if one defines "winning" only in terms of defeating an enemy's conventional combat capabilities. However, JP 3-0 recognizes that achieving the intended end state of a campaign is much more complex: "Successful military operations may not, by themselves, achieve the desired strategic end state. Military activities across the full range of military operations need to be integrated and synchronized with other instruments of national power and focused on common national goals." (4) In other words, the Army becomes involved in stability and reconstruction operations in addition to decisive combat when both are required to attain strategic objectives.

In his 1 May 2003 speech, Bush described a transition in the Central Command theater of operations from decisive combat operations to military operations other than war. Joint Publication 3-0 describes this transition as one component of the journey to a final campaign end state: "There may be a preliminary end state--described by a set of military conditions--when military force is no longer the principal means to the strategic objective. There may also be a broader end state that typically involves returning to a state of peace and stability and may include a variety of diplomatic, economic, informational, and military conditions." (5)

Transition Planning Themes

Drawing on stability operations doctrine, an analysis of the U.S. occupation of Japan between 1945 and 1952, and the writings of military strategist Max G. Manwaring and others, I have identified nine specific planning themes applicable to stability and reconstruction operations conducted as part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT):

* Legitimacy.

* Security.

* Commitment.

* Situational understanding.

* Unity of effort.

* Infrastructure.

* Economic status.

* Planning effort.

* Media.

The discussion that follows employs a case study of the occupation of Japan to demonstrate each theme's applicability to postcombat planning efforts.

Legitimacy. Sociologist Max Weber defined legitimacy as a state of being "which arises from voluntary obedience to a leader, a tradition, or a legal code." (6) For the purpose of this discussion, legitimacy applies to the form of governance and the mandate for the occupation/stabilization force as well as host-nation security forces. Political scientists and foreign affairs experts Manwaring and Edwin G. Corr considered this theme one of three that "contribute most directly to the allegiance of the population and the achievement of [a sustainable peace]. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.