CIAO DATE: 12/00
"Thinking Innovatively About U.S. Military Force" *
John A. Nagl
Elizabeth O. Young
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA.
March 14-18, 2000
"Si Vis Pacem, Para Pacem"
A Modest Proposal For Improving U.S. Army Training For Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
We live in an age of 'heavy peace.' ... There will be other Kosovos, and, whether for strategic or humanitarian reasons -- or just muddled impulses -- we will not be able to resist them all. ... We cannot enter upon such commitments under the assumption that they will be temporary and brief. ...We must stop pretending those challenges will disappear -- that 'something will turn up' -- and prepare to meet them.
-- Ralph Peters 1
The confluence of the end of the Cold War and the rise of ethnonationalistic conflicts has led to a proliferation of complex humanitarian emergencies (CHEs) around the world. Internal conflicts which combine large scale displacements of people, mass famine and fragile or failing economic, social and political institutions are becoming commonplace; war remains a common feature of the international landscape despite growing global interdependence. 2 While the end of the Cold War has reduced the risk of great power conflict, it has also decreased the perceived constraints on proxy wars, and as a result, over forty unresolved conflicts currently fester, simmer or rage. International peacekeeping forces alone are unlikely to achieve lasting results in most cases, but they can stop the fighting and assist in bringing about fair and lasting resolutions. 3
While the US Army is currently prepared to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts, it cannot ignore the fact that it will frequently be called upon to provide the military forces necessary to implement our nation's multifaceted response to CHEs. 4 Even though peace operations and the prevention of deadly conflict are becoming increasingly common missions, the Army's current approach is to treat each CHE as an exception; it engages in little routine preparation for such events. 5 This problem is now known and discussed beyond the corridors of the Pentagon or the fields of Fort Bragg; it is debated in major newsmagazines and newspapers regularly as it becomes apparent to the public that "of all the services, the Army has had the most difficult transition from a Cold War force ready to defeat the Soviet Union to the sort of nimble force needed to fight wars like the one in Kosovo." 6
The Army has conducted a number of joint, multinational, multiorganizational, multiagency, and multicultural exercises in order to better prepare our troops to meet these new challenges, but they are still administered on an ad hoc basis. Because the US Military in general, and the US Army in particular, is overwhelmed by internal debate concerning when and how to provide humanitarian assistance, it has not created the necessary precrisis training which numerous After Action Reviews have stressed is crucial for success in these operations. 7 While continuing to debate the efficacy of creating a two tier military establishment complete with a constabulary force 8 , changing the structure of the force to make deployments easier 9 , or simply not getting involved, the Army must simultaneously make more immediate adjustments. Such modifications are crucial, for involvement in CHEs will not wait until the debate over America's role in the post-Cold War world has been resolved. 10
The Army must take the initiative to create a routine training program which incorporates several elements that together will make the US response to CHEs more successful. Unless and until the Army decides to create specialized units whose primary mission is to respond to CHEs, all units must have the ability to perform them. Hence, in keeping with our "train as you fight" philosophy, all National Training Center (NTC), Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC), and Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotations should henceforth include a CHE scenario both leading into and building down from a typical mid-intensity conflict scenario. (See Diagram 1). This scenario more accurately reflects the situations in which our military is likely to find itself involved and presents a greater training challenge to US forces.
It is in the Army's best interest to take a more active role in preparing for CHEs. RAND researcher Jennifer Morrison Taw noted that the Army is "in some sense the principal billpayer for inadequate interagency coordination" and that "the Army is the most likely of all US military services to pay the price for failings in interagency coordination." 11 The most significant shortcoming of US policy implementation in Bosnia is the lack of a mechanism to ensure effective integration of the civilian and military implementation peacebuilding programs at the tactical, operational or strategic level. The only integration that has occurred was at the operational level and occurred on an ad hocbasis. As a result, the military conditions for success of the Dayton Peace Accord were largely met, but the situation on the ground was never transformed into a condition from which the military could withdraw. As the first NATO Commander of that mission, General (ret.) George A. Joulwan, noted:
Because of this dilemma, there is no clear path from stabilization to normalization and no prognosis as to when the very visible military commitment to peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be brought to a close. The conditions that facilitate transition to normalization ... have not been established. 12
Unless we begin fostering such integration, the Army will be less effective - and hence will remain committed to these operations for longer time periods than it could be if it had only been better trained for the demands of CHEs.
The Three Chief Problems of Civil-Military Coordination
Currently, three chief problems impede effective and efficient involvement of the US Military in responding to CHEs: the formation of multinational military coalitions; the relationship between the military and other governmental agencies and non-governmental and humanitarian relief organizations; and the preparation of individual soldiers. Dealing with each in turn:
The Formation of Multinational Military Coalitions. Today's CHEs require a truly multidimensional response, relying on multinational military forces, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Private Volunteer Organizations (PVOs), United Nations agencies and many other political and military actors. To be more effective in CHEs, civil and military efforts require increased coordination and integration in order to maximize each player's contribution and to avoid redundancies and contradictory efforts. General Joulwan, who was instrumental in establishing the multidimensional Partnership for Peace program, notes that in these missions "success is not measured solely by military success, but primarily by civilian success." 13
To be successful, CHEs must be addressed by politically unified and militarily effective coalitions. International cooperation to resolve CHEs can lessen the US share of the burden and disperse responsibility. 14 The prospects for increased participation will be improved if countries feel more confident about the ability of the international community to collectively manage military interventions with limited losses. 15 However, it flies in the face of reason to expect troops from widely disparate armies to work in harmony without preparation. 16 For example, in Cambodia, thirty-five countries participated in the peacekeeping force - a recipe for coordination difficulties that should not be underestimated. 17 One of the problems confronting multinational force commanders is a lack of understanding regarding the quality of training of different military contingents. 18
The best way to offset these sorts of problems is to establish multinational training on the tactical, organizational and strategic levels. First Sergeant Michael Prickett, of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, recently participated in CENTRAZBAT '98, a multinational peacekeeping exercise which brought 160 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division together with soldiers from Turkey, Russia, and five former Soviet republics. Of the experience, Prickett noted that "In this age of multinational peacekeeping operations, where you must work closely with soldiers from other countries, this kind of training is very, very valuable. Knowing how other armies do business is a big deal when you actually have to go into a real-world situation with them." 19 Private Dickey Young, a B Company rifleman, added that "It's different when you're actually working with people from other countries, getting to fire their weapons and living in the same area with them." 20
These exercises have much more than simply a symbolic importance. They can foster interoperability among the participating forces through the practice of combined peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations at the platoon and company levels. 21 Such training is invaluable in increasing the efficiency of US forces in carrying out CHEs, especially at the tactical level, where these operations truly succeed or fail.
The Civil-Military Relationship. Dealing with the vast number of NGOs and PVOs which typically respond to CHEs can be a frustrating and confusing experience for both the military and its civilian counterparts. 22 This is because military objectives, capabilities, and perspectives on the problem could hardly be more unlike those of the NGOs. 23 Regardless of how frustrating or confusing this coordination is, we must remember that "although military forces can maintain an absence of war, they cannot themselves build peace." 24 Max G. Manwaring noted that "contemporary conflict requires strategic planning and cooperation between and among coalition partners, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the US civil-military representation." 25 In these new missions, a range of issues - from economic, political, and military to social, cultural and legal - must be addressed virtually simultaneously. 26 Thus, "the creation of an integrating structure is among the most daunting challenges the international community confronts." 27 Despite numerous involvements in CHEs, we have still not gotten it right. Preparing for and then conducting CHEs requires increased emphasis on interagency coordination with other US governmental agencies as well as coordination with NGOs and PVOs. 28 A recent RAND publication focused solely on the problem of interagency coordination in CHEs. It noted that:
Even among US agencies alone, such coordination is difficult to achieve. US interagency processes remain fraught with competition and confusion, and lack authority and accountability. Neither the military nor the civilian agencies are sufficiently familiar with each other's capabilities, objectives or limitations to effectively coordinate their activities. 29
Over and above US interagency coordination is the far more daunting task of dealing with NGOs. For example, in Somalia, there were seventy-eight NGOs present. Taw found that for the military, dealing with a number of independent civilian actors can be a "frustrating and confusing experience." However, "coordination among agencies at the outset helped alleviate tensions." 30 The military needs to better understand the requirements and philosophies of the NGOs and the functions of the specific organizations. A roundtable discussion at the Strategic Studies Institute asserted that "In military terms, humanitarian affairs are the primary effort and military activity the supporting effort in most peace operations." 31 As a result, it recommended that all Combat Training Center training should be done in cooperation with other governmental agencies, NGOs and other nations. 32
Colonel (Retired) Karl Farris, an observer on the recent UN Peacekeeping Mission in Cambodia, learned from his experiences that the Army must look at NGOs "as a resource with vital experience and unequaled knowledge. They should be accepted as full partners." 33 Often, NGOs and PVOs precede military forces into crisis areas where US peace operations take place. Many of these agencies will already have established a close rapport with the belligerents and with local nationals in the area. Thus,
In establishing its own role as a benefactor, the Task Force must form a close civil-military partnership with these agencies, which will help ensure unity of effort and implementation of effective programs. The first step in the synchronization of these efforts requires civil and military components to reach a common appreciation of each others' capabilities, which should lead to a greater degree of mutual respect. 34
The Army's "After Action Review" from Operation Support Hope in Rwanda stressed the need to build bridges with the UN and NGO communities before a crisis occurs and develop training which focuses on the integration of capabilities. 35 Many civilian agencies are reluctant to work with the military. Some are concerned about being associated with or overwhelmed by the military. However, Taw noted that frequently NGO reluctance to work with the military is simply a product of unfamiliarity with military capabilities, objectives and limitations. 36
It would be foolish to discount the cultural differences between the US military and civilian humanitarian agencies. The tension is inevitable due to the fact that the military looks at CHEs as secondary in importance to its basic mission of warfighting, while the civilians involved see their primary mission as protecting and assisting innocent civilians. 37 Still, the only way to combat such prejudices is to begin working together. Overcoming these problems prior to deployment increases the chances of successful mission accomplishment. While organizational and cultural differences between civilian and military organizations do create problems in CHEs, "the bottom line was that interagency operational level coordination was incomplete in the preparation phase." 38 Establishing appropriate coordination mechanisms between these various services, agencies, nations, and organizations in advance "may not guarantee success in an operation," but an absence of such cooperation will "nearly always assure failure." 39
The Preparation of Individual Soldiers. While international collaboration among senior military commanders has increased, CHEs are often still confusing for individual soldiers. As Ralph Peters wrote,
We need to change the force to fit the times. ... We must have soldiers of adequate quality in sufficient numbers, and they must be well trained and appropriately equipped. ... When we think about the Army of the future ... we need to start thinking from the soldier up. 40
During Operation Restore Hope, the Army discovered that troops were bewildered by the overlap between combat missions and peacekeeping. Moreover, many military units were ill-prepared for a mission that required a very different psychological mindset from the warrior ethos inculcated in most soldiers. 41 Because every soldier's action often carries significant political consequences, it is imperative to focus CHE training on the small unit level. 42
In addition to the tactical training for the soldiers, special consideration needs to be given to the officers as well. Our Army is too often one that clings to traditional solutions, praising a "past that we do not understand." 43 Company and field grade officers need specialized training, since they often must function "two levels higher" during CHEs, thinking and operating at the operational and strategic levels. One of the most important characteristics of CHEs to be taken into account during preparation is the broader command and political-military responsibilities borne by soldiers at lower rank levels than is common in mid-intensity conflict. 44
A Proposal for Mandatory Training
To minimize the impact of these three problems of civil-military coordination, multidimensional training must occur on a regular basis. This training can be conducted when units deploy to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana, to the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California, and to the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) in Hohenfehls, Germany. 45 Requiring units to be proficient in operations relevant to CHEs and in their dealings with civilians will cause them to prepare for such training on a regular basis.
The Army's Joint Readiness Training Center offers two-week exercises designed to provide rough, realistic and stressful training to improve the leadership and proficiency of military units. While the JRTC specializes in low to mid intensity conflict simulation, it can also simulate Operations Other Than War (OOTW), the military's term for CHEs. 46 In the summer of 1994, the JRTC facilitated an OOTW simulation that involved more than 6000 troops from different countries along with foreign observers and humanitarian aid representatives. 47 In the summer of 1996, JRTC replicated a combined and joint task force mission in an operational area similar to Bosnia or Somalia, complete with scenarios of ethnic strife, civil war and competing insurgencies. As one participant noted, "the realistic conditions posed by JRTC provided participants with the mental preparation and practical experience necessary to perform future peace operations." 48
The JRTC currently trains units scheduled for participation in the Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia in a peacekeeping scenario approximately six months prior to their deployment to Bosnia. Every unit which has participated in SFOR has first been trained at the JRTC in what is called a "Mission Rehearsal Exercise", or MRE. Six MRE's have been conducted, he most recent for the 49th Division of the Texas Army National Guard, which will act as the headquarters for units from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment which will assume the SFOR mission in March 2000. 49
While training prior to scheduled deployment on peacekeeping operations is certainly both sensible and appropriate, the authors believe that it is insufficient. The Army should integrate multidimensional operations that involve multinational forces, NGOs, PVOs, UN participants and relevant US agencies into all JRTC, NTC, and CMTC rotations. Current training scenarios at the National Training Center provide a model for all training centers. During the first week of an NTC rotation, the "Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration" (RSOMI) phase, units drawing equipment secure the compound against terrorist threats, civilian protests, and car bombs under the careful scrutiny of "the media", and also organize military security for a United Nations relief mission. During the rotation itself, units are confronted with more refugees, guerrillas, representatives of NGO's and PVO's, and injured civilians on the battlefield, although soldiers in the Brigade Support Area are challenged more intensely than those in the combat task forces. 50
These multidimensional training exercises should include actual members of civilian relief organizations; preparing at the training centers prior to civilian and military involvement in an actual CHE will allow all parties involved to anticipate various problems and thus make the actual deployment and operation run more smoothly. Such training at the JRTC, NTC and CMTC will afford military commanders the opportunity to work with their civilian counterparts and give regular soldiers an opportunity to prepare psychologically and tactically for peacekeeping missions. The training will also benefit the NGOs, PVOs, and other multinational forces that may have never before worked together in a simulated operational environment.
In addition to tactical training at the JRTC, NTC, or CMTC, a staff officer training program should be conducted simultaneously. For example, during the recent multidimensional Cooperative Nugget 97, which took place in June and July of 1997, over 3000 military personnel from three NATO countries and seventeen Partnership for Peace countries were trained at the JRTC. Simultaneously, two company or field grade officers from each participating nation were involved in the staff officer program. Civilians of comparable stature from other governmental agencies, NGOs, and PVOs can also be included. The program included travel to the US Army Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle Barracks and a session at Fort Benning for follow-on instruction. 51
Likely sources of opposition to this training program come from the Army itself and from NGOs.
Opposition from within the Army. Many members of the military in general, and the Army in particular, will be hesitatant to institutionalize such training because they do not want complex humanitarian emergencies to get in the way of training for traditional "warfighting" missions. 52 Institutionalization of CHE training carries with it the perception of permanence. However, training for and participating in CHEs does not necessarily degrade warfighting opportunities for most units. The key is to preserve warfighting skills while augmenting effectiveness at peace operations since "warfighting and peace operations must not become alternatives but compatible and symbiotic techniques aimed at a common goal." 53 Indeed, it has been estimated that ninety percent of the training for peacekeeping is also training for general combat capability. 54 As we prepare for the missions we would like to fight 55 , the real missions we are currently conducting - responses to CHEs - are "improvised at great expense to our readiness, unit integrity and quality of life of our service members." 56 Through increased exposure to CHEs, the military will come to realize that:
Peace operations and warfighting may seem diametric ... in fact, they are inextricably linked. The US Army has long accepted the value of deterrence for avoiding full scale war and preserving national security. It must now recognize that multinational peace operations fill the same role, and thus give them appropriate care and attention. 57
Opposition from NGOs. While we anticipate that foreign militaries will enthusiastically participate in these exercises, some NGOs may fear a closer association with the military. 58 However, General Joulwan believes that NGOs are ready to come on board as long as they are included in upper-level decision making. 59 In fact, a NGO participant at the 1996 JRTC exercise noted that non-military players add "a new element to military decision making." 60 Multidimensional exercises would improve coordination of capabilities and remedy the NGOs' lack of familiarity with the military. 61 Interagency coordination at the planning as well as execution stages of training will better preserve the independence of the NGOs. In addition, greater NGO involvement will demonstrate the military's increasing appreciation and respect for the civilian role in responding to CHEs.
This proposed training would not fundamentally solve any of the Army's problems. It would not change the Army's structure, rearrange the allocation of resources and personnel, or modify Army doctrine. All it would do is take the best training that the Army has to offer - that conducted at JRTC, NTC, and CMTC - and make it more reflective of the types of missions the Army is currently facing, and will continue to face for at least the near future. As Ralph Peters wrote,
One way or another, we will go... deployments often will be unpredictable, often surprising. And we frequently will be unprepared for the mission, partly because of the sudden force of circumstance but also because our military is determined to be unprepared for missions it does not want, as if the lack of preparation will prevent our going. 62
Although the Army is currently involved in a number of CHEs, it has been perceived by many as being unwilling to perform these missions. Richard Schulz, director of the international security studies program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, was recently quoted in The Boston Globe as saying, "the one service that has a different view about this is the Marine Corps. They are willing to do it." 63 The Army must shed this image. It must reassert its role as the branch of choice in peacekeeping operations. Creating a routine training program for CHEs will be a step in the right direction.
Clearly, training and preparation for peace operations should not detract from a unit's primary mission of training to fight and win in combat. However, the traditional rule for regulating conflict and security, si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war), must be modified. Today, an additional principle in conflict resolution exists: si vis pacem, para pacem (if you want peace, prepare for peace.) 64
Note 2: In Improving National Response to Complex Emergencies (New York: Carnegie Corporation, 1998), Doug Lute defines complex emergencies as those that "combine internal conflict with large scale displacements of people, mass famine and fragile or failing economic, political and social institutions." Page 2. Back.
Note 4: Thomas H. Johnson, "The Task Structure of International Peace Operations," presentation given at the 39th Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Minneapolis, MN, March 1998.Back.
Note 7: For example, John E. Lange wrote that Operation Support Hope in Rwanda showed significantly different perspectives between the military and civilians involved. Lessons learned exercises have focused on improving civil-military coordination in humanitarian operations. "These efforts should continue, particularly given the certainty that the military will be called upon again to support humanitarian relief efforts when they exceed the capacity of humanitarian agencies to handle them. Improved planning and coordination is particularly important between the armed forces and the international organizations and NGOs that specialize in humanitarian relief." See "Civilian-Military Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance: Lessons from Rwanda," Parameters (Summer 1998), 106. Back.
Note 9: Goodpaster argues that "national force structures may need to be adjusted to deal more effectively with foreign internal conflicts. For example, additional military police units may be needed as military forces become increasingly involved with operations that put them into direct contact with civilian populations on a regular basis," in When Diplomacy Is Not Enough, 7.Back.
Note 16: James H. Baker, "Policy Challenges of UN Peace Operations," Parameters (Spring 1994), 19 and 24. LTC Baker has served with the Peacekeeping Forces in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Lebanon and the Iraq-Kuwait Demilitarized Zone. Back.
Note 18: Clayton E. Beattie, "The International Peace Academy and the Development of Training for Peacekeeping," in Peacekeeping: Appraisals and Proposals, ed. Henry Wiseman (New York: Pergamon Press, 1983): 214. Interestingly enough, Mats R. Berdal noted that "it is worth stressing in this context that the performance of UN peacekeeping troops does not follow the simple division between Western first world armies and those of the developing countries, although it is often alleged that it does. The most successful contingents in Cambodia are widely thought to be those from India and Uruguay, while Moroccans and Italians in Somalia are both highly respected for their rapport with the local population." In "Whither UN Peacekeeping?" Adelphi Paper 281 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, October 1993): 47.Back.
Note 21: "Memorandum for Correspondents" [On-line] (accessed 27 February 1999); available from http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May1997/m052997_m088-97.html; Internet; homepage: DefenseLINK [On-line]; available from http://www.defenselink.mil; Internet.Back.
Note 33: COL Karl Farris, "UN Peacekeeping in Cambodia: On Balance, A Success," Parameters (Spring 1994): 48. COL Farris recently stepped down as director of the Peacekeeping Institute at the US Army War College. He also served as the Senior US Military Observer for the UN Mission in Cambodia.Back.
Note 38: Margaret Daly Hayes and Gary F. Wheatley, ed., Interagency and Political-Military Dimensions of Peace Operations: Haiti -- A Case Study (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1996), 37.Back.
Note 39: William J. Doll and Steven Metz, The Army and Multinational Peace Operations: Problems and Solutions (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 1993), 4. This report is a result of a roundtable discussion that took place on 29 November 1993 and was sponsored by the Strategic Studies Institute, the US Army War College and the US Army Peacekeeping Institute at the US Army War College.Back.
Note 45: Some units are already making such adaptations in the field. For an example, see John A. Nagl and Tim Huening, "Nearly War: Training a Divisional Cavalry Squadron for Operations Other Than War" Armor CV, 1 (January/February 1996), 23-24.Back.
Note 46: OOTW is the Army's term for non-combat operations, including responses to Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. While OOTW is an option at JRTC, most units still choose standard exercises (Taw, Parsellin and Leed, 31).Back.
Note 55: See Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973). Weigley argues in his book that "in the history of American strategy, the direction taken by the American conception of war made most American strategists, through most of the time span of American history, strategists of annihilation," p. xxii.Back.
Note 58: Many countries already conduct multinational peacekeeping training exercises. For example, the Scandinavian Countries, which have donated over one quarter of all UN peacekeepers, have established joint programs to train volunteers for peacekeeping missions. Recently, the Nordic Brigade has cooperated with Poland to form a joint Nordic-Polish Brigade that served with IFOR in Bosnia. This approach has been emulated by countries such as Austria, Malaysia, and Switzerland. However, informal interviews with CNN World correspondent Ralph Begliter (22 November 1998) and Council on Foreign Relations member and Yale Law Professor Ruth Wedgwood (26 November 1998) have both brought to light the fact that NGOs often are fearful of losing independence or being seen as too connected to the military.Back.