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Directive Boosts Priority of Stability Operations

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2005 – Stability operations are now a major priority for the Defense Department, on par with combat operations, and will receive more planning and funding, two DoD officials said here today.

The officials were explaining DoD Directive 3000.05, which was signed Nov. 28. The directive provides guidance on stability operations and assigns responsibility for planning, training and preparing to conduct and support stability operations.

The origins of the directive come from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Jeffrey Nadaner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations. Before Sept. 11, many people within DoD thought of stability operations as optional, Nadaner said, but after the terrorist attacks, they were seen as a necessity.

The ability of the United States and its partners to conduct stability operations can prevent failed and failing states from becoming havens for terrorists and criminals, and can ensure the U.S. is safe at home and successful in its military missions, he said.

Stability operations are defined operations other than combat operations that involve violence or the threat of violence and can come in various sizes and forms, Nadaner said. Examples of stability operations are rebuilding institutions such as security forces, correctional facilities and judicial systems; reviving or building the private sector, including encouraging citizen-driven economic activity and building necessary infrastructure; and developing representative governmental institutions, according to the directive.

The directive lays out important policies, Nadaner said. Among those are that stability operations are a core military mission and shall be given priority comparable to combat missions, and that although stability operations are best performed by indigenous, foreign or U.S. civilian professionals, U.S. military forces will be prepared to perform all tasks required to maintain order when civilians cannot do so, he explained.

One of the key requirements in all stability operations is the need for indigenous security forces to be established quickly, Nadaner said. This is a lesson learned from the war in Iraq that will be incorporated into future operations, he said.

The directive includes a requirement that the stability operations portions of war plans are fully completed by the U.S. military, Nadaner said. The secretary of defense will receive periodic reports about these plans so his level of information about stability operations is equal with that of combat operations, he added.

Another important aspect of the directive is that it encourages different government agencies to participate in stability operations, Nadaner said. "The directive has a flavor throughout that's very inter-agency, because we recognize that stability operations are inherently and intensely inter-agency," he said.

DoD wants to help other government agencies develop their own capabilities for stability operations, Nadaner said. One plan is to develop civilian-military teams, much like the provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan, to be ready to deploy to stability operations, he said.

The State Department and DoD already work together and even share money when it comes to stability operations, Nadaner said. State Department officials participate in DoD exercises, and DoD is seeking authority from Congress to transfer $200 million to the State Department to prepare for a potential stability crisis, he said.

To implement the requirements of this directive will require a series of efforts within DoD and other government agencies, Nadaner said. Some of the initiatives are going to be difficult, he said, so all the changes won't be visible right away, but DoD is at a good starting point.

"We're looking to see the changes done right, and we think we have a good framework to do so," he said.

This directive should be considered initial guidance and will evolve over time, said Air Force Col. J. Scott Norwood, deputy director for international negotiations and multilateral affairs, strategic plans and policy directorate, the Joint Staff.

Norwood's office will oversee the implementation of the initiatives, he said, which will involve a range of activities. DoD will have to reassess its doctrine, training structure and processes, educational programs and war plans, he said. Also, officials will need to incorporate lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, he noted.

Norwood warned against interpreting the directive to mean stability operations are the goal in themselves, Norwood said. The United States works hard to develop weak states and prevent failed states, he pointed out, so stability operations are not necessary. But measures need to be in place if that doesn't work, he said.

"We recognize those strategies may not work, and when we have to conduct stability operations, we don't want it to be a pick-up game; we want varsity capabilities from the onset," he said.

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