Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Valued Sustainable Services: Building Partnership Capacity through Collaborating Approaches

Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Valued Sustainable Services: Building Partnership Capacity through Collaborating Approaches

Article excerpt

The Valued Sustainable Services (ValSServ) concept is an approach to building the capacity of local populations. It emphasizes the interdependency among telecommunications, reliable power, and information-sharing support, and encourages projects to be developed in integrated packages rather than in stovepiped lines of effort. (1) ValSServ focuses on bottom-up projects in complex civil-military operations (2) that can be funded, planned, and executed at local levels, while being consistent with top-down national and theater strategies. It takes a system-of-systems approach, (3) recognizing that successful projects can generate positive ripple effects in local environments and throughout extended networks. This paper focuses on ValSServ within the wide range of U.S. Department of Defense operating environments, such as capacity-building to help shape peacetime conditions in partner nations, post-disaster recovery, and helping to move from the "hold" to the "build" phases in counterinsurgency operations. (4)

The ValSServ approach is based on six planning and operating principles. First, local development and governance efforts need to be aligned with overall strategic objectives. (5) Second, the focus must be population-centric. Personnel must respect and work through local conditions, cultures, relationships, and requirements to develop personal links that can be used to initiate projects and support them over the long term. Third, projects must concentrate on building capacity that can be sustained by the local population. Fourth, projects must draw on a wide range of inputs and analytical approaches to identify potential risks and threats present in the project area and adapt to changing circumstances. Fifth, projects must build on lessons observed in the past and present and find ways to change behaviors that can turn them into lessons learned for future operations. Finally, personnel must continuously look for other opportunities to implement or scale ValSServ projects while understanding the realities of local conditions. (6)

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ValSServ operates on the premise that local private-sector involvement is essential for long-term sustainability. Local populations must be able to keep solutions operating with their own resources to break the cycle of dependency on outside support. During the planning phase, an important factor for choosing a site for ValSServ initiation is the enthusiasm of the population--that is, the priority generally is to work with those who are interested instead of spending excessive time trying to motivate those who are not. Project managers also must define, and then help to shape, advantageous "post-conditions" that support long-term strategic objectives.

The first section of this paper addresses the components of ValSServ, which consist of enablers, domains, and services. The second section focuses on planning considerations to enhance the likelihood of successful implementation. The third outlines execution steps. The paper concludes with a summary of benefits and recommendations for further research.

Components

ValSServ has three components: enablers, domains, and the services that connect them.

Enablers are the three core utilities that support a wide range of services within domains. Telecommunications, reliable power, and information-sharing support form the foundation of ValSServ. At the beginning of a project, community leadership should be consulted about the ways that enablers can support the domains present in the community to produce services that citizens would value and could sustain by themselves.

Telecommunications refer to information transport mechanisms such as broadcast radio, television, cell phones, satellite and microwave links, area networks, and equipment such as robust, low-power computers that tie deployable gear into local communication systems. (7) They should be built on commercial infrastructures whenever possible. …

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