Coalition Leadership Imperatives

By Forster, Larry M. | Military Review, November/December 2000 | Go to article overview

Coalition Leadership Imperatives


Forster, Larry M., Military Review


COALITION COMMANDERS often head a symbolic presence as well as a physical force.

They encourage cooperation among the various nongovernment organizations (NGOs), coordinate with UN personnel and correlate with different tribes and groups. However, the greatest operational challenge is often internal-maintaining intracoalition unity. Coalition contingents may live virtually isolated from one another and may display signs of dissention and dispirited conduct of essential operations. Trust binds coalitions, and often it must grow among nations with no background of working together or worse, with contentious histories. To harness the internal dynamics and accomplish the shared mission, coalition commanders must conquer extraordinary leadership challenges.

Such challenges are common to senior leaders during complex peace and humanitarian operations, which have been the main operational employment of the US Armed Forces since 1991. With the exception of the initial deployments to Somalia and Rwanda, recent peace and humanitarian operations have been multinational (most often coalition) operations.' In some cases the United States has led a coalition of the willing. In other instances the United States has been the lead nation in a UN-authorized force, the mainstay of a NATO operation or-as in the case of the ongoing Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai-US personnel are under the operational control of a foreign commander.

US participation in coalition operations distributes the operational burden and establishes international legitimacy. While initially more difficult and inefficient than unilateral missions, coalition operations are usually more politically acceptable to both the international community and to the former warring factions in an intrastate conflict. There are also many intangible benefits of working with other nations, to include the variety of experiences accrued by US leaders, enhanced capabilities of foreign armed forces and strengthened US ties to international partners. As a residual bonus, those now-experienced foreign militaries may execute future regional operations-in ways that support collateral US interests but with minimal or no US involvement. Coalition operations, then, pay significant dividends to all participants beyond achieving the initial purpose.

Since the structure of a coalition is often more important for its political effect than its military capability, US commanders may have to accept a suboptimal tactical organization to achieve key strategic objectives. To achieve coalition objectives with organizational constraints and in an environment where different military cultures are merged, leaders must maximize cohesion while carrying out difficult missions. Indeed, this multinational leadership requirement and the need for additional senior leader preparation was identified in the strategic-level action review of the Implementation Force (IFOR) operation in Bosnia.2

Leadership Challenges

This article addresses proven multinational leadership techniques derived from the experiences of senior US officers and feedback from coalition partners. It highlights the general dynamics of coalitions and provides context for understanding their unique leadership challenges. It also examines successful multinational leadership and recommends specific actions for leaders working with non-US military members. As with national organizations, coalitions require clear and decisive leadership but with different skill sets. Compared to leaders of US-only operations, coalition leaders must be more sensitive to diversity and mission complexity to motivate professionals from different backgrounds.

The operational environment. Coalition leadership challenges are shaped by the unique dynamics of specific operations. Often US leaders operate in coalitions activated after extreme deterioration of circumstances in a host nation or region. The organization is formed, ad hoc, to meet urgent requirements; has broad and often unclear mandates and missions; and is the result of hasty prior coordination with coalition partners. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Coalition Leadership Imperatives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

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

    Oops!

    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.