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DoD Strongly Supports Stabilization Office

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2005 – In line with the idea that all aspects of national power must be applied against terror, the Defense Department is working closely with the office of the State Department's Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, DoD officials said before a Senate committee June 16.

The office is the focal point for mobilizing resources to stabilize and rebuild nations affected by the war on terrorism.

DoD provides personnel and support to the office. "As our national defense strategy and national military strategy make clear, some of the most significant threats to our national interest in the early 21st century will stem from instabilities, extremism, terrorism and criminality that is generated within weak states," Ryan Henry, the principal defense undersecretary for policy told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"The experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Liberia and Haiti during the first term of this administration, and ... places elsewhere have reinforced that addressing the threats requires a comprehensive government approach to both stabilization and reconstruction."

Military officers understand the importance of the office as well. "The primary purpose of our military is to win our nation's wars," said Army Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy. "We have had some major successes during the last four years of sustained combat operations. However, those of us in uniform are acutely aware of the limits of traditional military power. Enhancing our post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction capabilities is important in our ability to be able to prevail."

The idea goes back to the basics of the counterterrorism effort. DoD has a huge role in helping to provide a stable environment. But to keep a country stable and moving toward democracy requires more. Other agencies must help provide food, water and sanitation, and can help support the rule of law in a country. How a country transforms to a market-based economy is not a DoD core competency, and the office provides a place to provide that expertise.

Henry said the office will play a critical role in coordinating the work across all departments and agencies within the government, "and the Department of Defense stands ready to respond positively." He said the capability the office provides "to coordinate our government's response and mobilize civilian capabilities quickly will save lives and treasure."

DoD assigned six persons as liaison officers and expert advisers to the coordinator. The department has also arranged for the office to participate in multiple conferences, seminars, training, and military exercises. "We have funded a feasibility study on the development of a civilian response force," Henry said. "We're offering support to SCRS's planning efforts."

DoD also will provide funding for the office in case it must deploy. "The main goal of DoD's support to SCRS is to integrate civilian and military efforts across a spectrum of peace and conflict," Henry said. "DoD plans on focusing the integration of civilian and military efforts in three broad areas: training and exercising, planning, and operational needs."

Joint training and education ensures that the civilian and military personnel who deploy to the field have common operating assumptions and understand how to work together, he said. Joint exercises provide civilian and military personnel an opportunity to test what they have learned. Joint planning helps identify civilian and military roles and responsibilities and ensure that the civilian and military personnel know what to expect from their counterparts when they are deployed.

DoD hopes to beef up civilian planning so it is "comparable and compatible" with the current military planning process, Henry said.

Sharp said the office is developing a cadre of deployable people to the country with critical skills in six key areas:

  • Security - developing police and military forces;
  • Rule of law - developing judicial and penal capabilities;
  • Infrastructure - developing electrical, fuel and sanitation systems;
  • Economic and social welfare - developing jobs and health services.
  • Humanitarian - making sure food and shelter is available; and
  • Governance - establishing the ability to govern and conduct elections.
Contact Author

Ryan Henry

Related Sites:
Office of the State Department's Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

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