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DoD Considers Creating Stability and Reconstruction Force

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2003 – The Pentagon is considering creating a military force that would be dedicated to stability and reconstruction operations, according to retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, chief of the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation.

Although it may be some time before a final decision is made on whether such a force becomes reality, Cebrowski -- one of the department's chief architects in the effort to transform the military -- said the ever-changing post-Sept. 11 security environment, as well as the lessons of history itself, make a strong case for stability and reconstruction operations.

"We're going to need this capability. And we're going to need it repeatedly," he said in a recent interview. "Just because we need it today in Iraq doesn't mean that's the only time."

In its broadest sense, a stabilization and reconstruction force most likely would be used under conditions that now exist in Iraq between the end of major combat operations and the formation of a stable government, although Cebrowski was quick to point out that the need for such a force would not be limited to just that one scenario.

"The need for stability operations could happen at any time, and in places we haven't necessarily considered," he said.

The transformation chief said a stability and reconstruction force would include such elements as combat arms, military police, civil affairs, military intelligence, psychological affairs, engineers and explosive ordnance teams. But he emphasized that the heart of the force would be the combat arms element.

"Stability operations are difficult, are very important and very dangerous," he said. "This is no place for a pick-up team. This is meant to be part of the broad combat arms capability of the military. This is not the place where you put other than your best people and best equipment, because these are the people who are going to wrest victory and wrest our political objectives from an enemy dedicated to defeating us."

While pointing to the importance of the combat arms elements, Cebrowski said such a force must include the long-held belief that "everyone's a rifleman."

"The fact that you may be working civil affairs, psychological operations, military intelligence, or whatnot does not make you less of a Marine or less of a soldier," he said. "All would need to be prepared and ready to engage in combat, because these are dangerous types of operations."

Cebrowski envisions such a force also interacting with and building relationships with allied forces, coalition partners, U.S. government agencies and perhaps some nongovernmental bodies, such as relief agencies.

"What we're really talking about here is a joint capability," Cebrowski said "one that would require a strong mix from all the services in some cases, while relying more heavily on one service in other cases, and including the ability to work with others outside of DoD."

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