Academic journal article Parameters

Toward a Whole-of-Government Approach: Revamping Peru's Strategy Process

Academic journal article Parameters

Toward a Whole-of-Government Approach: Revamping Peru's Strategy Process

Article excerpt

A severe Peruvian security challenge in the valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM) has been brought about by a combination of three maladies: drug trafficking, poverty, and terrorism. At the end of 2016, the largest area of coca cultivation (46 percent or 20,304 hectares) and production (70 percent or an estimated 256 metric tons of cocaine) centered in the VRAEM. (1) Poverty, which afflicts 49 percent of the region's population (approximately 650,000 inhabitants), complicates Peru's efforts to counter drug trafficking. Furthermore, low levels of education and limited economic opportunities led most of the population to depend on coca cultivation for its survival. Thus, many people in the valley defend this illicit activity. (2) Since the region is isolated from the major population centers, local governments have little incentive to dedicate resources to the region. Hence, interest in stopping drug trafficking shifts to the national level.

Over the past decade, Peru's national strategy has fallen short of its stated objective of defeating the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, a terrorist organization that controls the principal transportation routes into the valley, provides security to the region's drug cartels, and directly funds its operations through drug trafficking. Two temporary organizations created by the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces--the VRAEM Special Command and the Intelligence and Joint Special Operations Command--experienced some operational success toward this mission. However, the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police suffered 384 casualties, including 137 deaths, in armed actions with the terrorists from 2005 to 2014. (3)

Strategic uncertainty in the region results from the absence of a clear national security policy, consistent political objectives, and a stable military objective that spanned several presidential administrations.

This uncertainty further impedes the formulation of a national military strategy by preventing the Peruvian Armed Forces from supporting other efforts to counter drug trafficking. Furthermore, a lack of prioritization limits the effective allocation of government resources to ministries and departmental agencies that could develop an optimal strategy for achieving the nation's broader strategic objectives.

This article examines the processes and actors involved in developing such strategic plans as well as the impact of these participants on government efforts in the VRAEM. Recommendations for structuring and coordinating state and regional efforts with a whole-of-government approach to address the region's challenges successfully are included.

A Whole-of-Government Approach

The Peruvian national defense system lacks the agility and the flexibility required to achieve the government's objectives in the VRAEM. An inability to recognize threats and vulnerabilities clearly results in slow responses. Furthermore, ministries and government agencies focus on their own immediate tasks, instead of effectively coordinating and cooperating toward shared objectives and a focused vision. (4) Because of the interrelated military and socioeconomic dimensions affecting the region, close interagency collaboration is necessary to achieve an adequate level of security that will foster economic development, reduce poverty, and further reinforce security. In other words, to address the challenges of the VRAEM adequately, the Peruvian security structure must operate as an effective system instead of a collection of separate components.

Through integrated efforts, the Peruvian government can provide economic development that permits the inhabitants of the VRAEM to remain in the region rather than migrating to other parts of the country, such as the greater Lima area. Such migration would further degrade the nation's security by intensifying other challenges. But a whole-of-government strategy for the VRAEM would address some of these challenges by attracting people who are more likely to participate in legal economic activities and who are less likely to support terrorist activities. …

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