Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pentagon Ups Inter-Agency Capability

Good stuff: this is most important piece of Pentagon reorganization news since the NSPD 44 and the DoD Directive 3000 (extensive quote, but its worth it):

The Pentagon announced on Aug. 28 that it would create a new assistant secretary's position to help coordinate inter-agency operations. Mid-level U.S. military officers will also begin to receive intensive instruction on the planning and command of overseas operations in partnership with civilian agencies. The military is seeking to embed the lessons learned during flawed inter-agency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and protect its own primary leadership role in future overseas interventions. The Pentagon-led effort in Iraq is faltering, but the Department of Defense (DoD) is determined to retain its leading role in planning and executing U.S. operations abroad. To this end, it is seeking to strengthen its role "coordinating" the activities of civilian agencies:

Inter-agency training: Courses at the joint-service National War College and the Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps Staff Colleges are designed to prepare lieutenant colonel-level officers for progression to the most senior ranks. This year, they will also include higher numbers of mid-level officials seconded from civilian agencies.

Iraqi lessons: In Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was poorly prepared for the transitions from war fighting to stabilization and reconstruction operations. The Pentagon hopes that the joint training of senior officers and civilian officials will help establish routine inter-agency cooperation and consultation.

Maintaining control: Although conducted in a spirit of common purpose, the new courses are also an act of self-preservation on the part of the Pentagon. The relative standing of the military and civilian agencies in planning and commanding "multi-agency" operations is in a state of flux and could yet fall between three broad models:

Continued Pentagon dominance: In the wake of the Iraqi experience, future operations are likely to have a significantly enhanced civilian presence at every stage of the planning process. However, civilian agencies may continue to report to the commanding military officer.

Joint military-civilian control: Operations planning may evolve into a dual command structure, with military and civilian commanders sharing authority.

Civilian leadership: An unlikely, but conceivable outcome could be overall civilian command of future operations, with the military performing specific supporting tasks.

In 2004, the administration created a new State Department-based Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/CRS), a move that was widely interpreted as confirming a shift towards the joint military-civilian command model. However, in practice, the creation of the S/CRS has raised more questions than it has answered about the military-civilian operational relationship:

-- Although based in the State Department and headed by a senior ambassador, the new office has drawn many of its personnel from within the DoD. It has also relied heavily on DoD contingency funding and has worked alongside the operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-- The emergence of the S/CRS as a partner to the military in the planning and command processes has coincided with the re-classification of stabilization and reconstruction operations, by the DoD, as a "core" military activity.

This new assistant secretary position along with the initiatives is a very welcome element in implementing the whole ability of the US military to not only conceive of war within a context of everything else (in the words of Thomas P. M. Barnett). But also act that way: in a proper Clausewitzian fashion, that is seing its core job to be a functional element within a larger - political - process were the use of force is not an end in itself, and the mastering of this ability therefore cannot be the sole focus in training, management, doctrine ... in short, in pratice.

Too busy to describe further ramifications, but they include questions like: will this add to a clearer division of labor within US foreign policy (State vs. DoD)? Will they both try to cherry pick the juiciest pieces and leave the hard stuff unassigned? Will the division of labor and cooperation include and to which degree successfully the UN response organizations, NATO and NATO country equivalents of USAID? How much support and weight does the new under secretary get in the Pentagon internal game? Etc.

Anyway, this is truly good news. Danish readers may consult my DIIS-report Transition til statsbygning efter intervention (i.e. Transition to state-building after intervention) from October last year, which included recommendations in this direction. Related earlier posts include (earliest first):

* Blair's Long War Vision
* The Barnier Report: Slow Step Towards A European State-Building Agency
* USAID's Office of Military Affairs
* UN Peacebuilding Commission: Good, but Still Dependent on the Pentagon
* Cato's Critique of S/CRS is Wrong
* A Civilian Transportation Command?
* Transitioning Rocks: Will DoD and State Deliver?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dem's Star Rising from K Street to Heartland

A good indicator of something looking set to happen is when a large number of people with inside information are ready to bet money on it happening. The Washington Post's Jeffrey H. Birnbaum reports that exactly this is happening on K-street -- the moniker for the political lobbying business in DC, named after the street where many of the offices are located.
Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections. In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.

"We've seen a noticeable shift," said Beth Solomon, director of the Washington office of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm that helps to place senior lobbyists and trade association heads.

In June, one of Washington's largest lobbying law firms, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary LLP, transferred the chairmanship of its government affairs practice from a Republican, Thomas F. O'Neil III, to a prominent Democrat, James J. Blanchard, a former governor and congressman from Michigan. "Being a Democrat didn't hurt me, that's for sure," Blanchard said. "This is going to be a big Democratic year."

At Patton Boggs LLP, another lobbying powerhouse, the calculation is similar. "Democrats' stock has clearly risen in the interviewing process this year as the chances for a Democratic takeover [of the House] have increased," said John F. Jonas, the head of Patton Boggs's health practice. "Serious hiring" of Democrats, he added, has become "a high priority here at Patton Boggs." "Earlier this year, the propensity was to look mostly at Republicans" as candidates for lobbying jobs, said W. Michael House, director of the legislative group at the law firm Hogan & Hartson. "Now, we're looking at both Republicans and Democrats closely."

Lobbying managers have for years tended to hire Republicans because both Congress and the White House are controlled by the GOP, and access to officials at both places is lobbying's stock in trade. But, in recent months, many of Washington's top lobbyists said in interviews that their decision-making has been altered by an emerging consensus among election experts that the Democrats will boost their numbers in the House and the Senate in the midterm elections Nov. 7 and have a strong shot of winning a majority in the House.

As a result, the job market for Democrats has expanded, and the K Street Project -- shorthand for efforts by Republican lawmakers and lobbyists to pressure corporations and trade groups to hire GOP lobbyists only -- has faded away.
The K Street Project -- to hire, among the many people getting off public service at the Hill, only Republicans -- was fairly successful until recently. This not least because the Republican control of Congress also meant that bi-partisan advice was less welcome, and funding more forthcoming for conservative causes.

The end of the K Street Project is one more reason things are looking bright for the Democrats for the midterms. Se e.g. also "Republicans Losing The 'Security Moms'" and especially David Broder's "For the GOP, A Heartland Plunge".

The big question, however, is whether the Dem's have done anything positive to deserve this attention? Or if it is not just the usual reversal of the tide
-- democracy's basic function -- that now sends the voters back? As mentioned before (here and especially here) the Democrat's have serious internal issues to solve, certainly concerning foreign policy -- issues which will explode if they take over Congress.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Civility as Enhanced CIMIC in Afghanistan

Great piece by Mountain Runner (hat tip) on an interesting memo written on standards of conduct by deployed troops by Command Sergeant Major Daniel Wood of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan (the CSM is part of the leadership group of CFC-A, which runs ISAF).

The memo calls for something very basic: namely that regular standards of conduct by deployed tropps, including in non-threathening situations is respectful of and accomodating towards the local population. In fact, it spells out in a few clear words how a logic of counter-insurgency proper is different from a logic of war:
We are currently engaged with an enemy that attempts to win battles in the press where the tide of public opinion is the ammunition and make no mistake... this ammunition is effective, especially when it has credibility. The effective engagement of the "middle ground" or the people of the rural communities and villages of this country is where the long war will be won. EVERY TIME you move down a road in this country, you are affecting this middle ground either positively or negatively.
These observations are not new -- standard COIN stuff. But they represent an example of this logic in practice. Moreover, the memo means that there must be a clear lack of such standard conduct. Therefore, the new logic cannot have been well implemented if at all yet. Still the memo represents a seeping down to the operational level of the new COIN logic of the Long War in some version, as e.g. an example of an application of Echevarria's (top level division of labor) analysis in "Towards an American Way of War".

As the memo apparently only concerns US service personnel, it would be interesting to see to which degree its analysis of lacking conduct applies to the other NATO service personnel under ISAF -- especially those serving in the PRT units. The PRTs are one attempt at creating the international security administration units of the future, dealing especially with Thomas PM Barnett's SysAdmin tasks in the mix of stabilization and reconstruction, or "enhanced CIMIC" in other words.

The memo can be read in its entirety at Mountain Runner, including his fine analysis (don't miss the comments on Nagl and SWET as a 'broken windows' approach).
Related posts:

Jun 06 2006: The Barnier Report: Slow Step Towards a European State-Building Agency
May 01 2006: Counterinsurgency: Changing the Military Ethos
Mar 29 2006: Of History and Counterinsurgency
Mar 17 2006: The Long War, Casualty Adversity & Fortified Concrete
Feb 21 2006: Effects Based Cultural Awareness
Feb 16 2006: Afghan SysAdmin Training for US Army

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Barnett on the Lebanese Army as SysAdmin

Tom Barnett has written the best analysis yet of the strategic context of the Israel-Hezbollah clash.

This condensed stuff can of course be hard to read if you don't know his imaginative lingo where every piece fits together. But there is, alas, no time to 'transcribe'. Go discover for yourself.

Global Health Reform: BOT Model for Private Institution Building

Interesting analysis in today's FT: Roger England, who is "founder and director of HLSP, a specialist healthcare consultancy, and is forming a new institute on health policy in developing countries" (and most likely looking for funding for his new institute or consulting fees, and not related to Gordon England) writes that "The world spends too much on the fight against Aids".
In 2004, 21 per cent of all health aid was allocated to HIV, up from 8 per cent in 2000, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It could now easily exceed one-quarter of all health aid, and is the only disease to have its own United Nations agency, UNAIDS. Is this justified? In 2001, HIV/Aids represented 5 per cent of the burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries as measured by disability-adjusted life years lost, a measure combining reduced life expectancy and quality of life. This compares with 3 per cent each for tuberculosis and malaria and 6 per cent each for respiratory infections and perinatal conditions. Are HIV interventions so much more cost-effective to justify this disproportionate spending? Probably not.
Now, I have no clue as to whether a) the numbers are correct (but FT probably fact checks), or b) how the disability-adjusted life years lost are estimated and if they include e.g. the dynamic effects of slowly damaging diseases as opposed to faster killing ones. Given that these are ok -- and even if they're not, then the point just gets restricted to the general level -- this column is a fine example of fact-based argumentation, which is a) the necessary basis for any kind of prioritization, b) pretty wanting at least in the public political debates surrounding almost any subject. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus conference was one example of such an attempt at estimating which bigger issues to tackle first.

In principle any IGO, any NGO, any GO, should not only deliver annual reports showing how much they spent on what. They should also publish a formalized, externally conducted "what if" review of the strategic choices represented in the annual reports that should include uncovering factual bases for these choices -- and spell out alternative possibilities and their bases.

England's concrete reform proposals are quite sweeping, and interesting for the specific case:

Two big changes are needed if the rich world's recent concern with the health of Africa is to achieve results. First, there must be country mechanisms integrating all health funding and allocating it where it will do most good, whether to state or non-state service providers. There have been attempts at this with so-called sector-wide approaches in which all donor and government funding is pooled and spent according to an agreed strategy. They have had some success but have been weakened by lack of co-operation by some donors and management by health ministries with vested interests. But they have potential. A small Caribbean island, Anguilla, is engaged in a bold programme in which healthcare is no longer provided directly by government. An independent national purchasing agency will receive all health funding, combining government revenues and social health insurance contributions, to procure care for the population by contracting the best value-for-money services available.

The second big change needed is in the structure of aid. Independent national purchasing agencies would impose some discipline on donors, many of whom over-fund HIV programmes because it is fashionable. But the role of key players is unclear and their structures deficient. Some 75 global funds and partnerships target single communicable diseases, creating massive co-ordination challenges at country level. Along with these, the UN runs Aids-related projects (using donor funds). Vast swaths of the UN's Aids-related bureaucracy could be abolished or privatised. However, there is no international agency capable of supporting health-sector restructuring. The World Bank could shift its focus but this would require a structural shift from project funding to strategic support. Rationalisation of the UN and international agencies is needed and must be led by the donors, for the agencies have no incentive to reform themselves. After Toronto, donors could make a start by questioning why we have UNAIDS, the agency promoting HIV as exceptional instead of just another disease, resulting in distorted funding and weakening health systems. [Emphasis added.]

Probably the WHO does not agree with England's second point. And probably focusing on strengthening non-state or directly private health care institutional infrastructure is not the way forward in countries where the state building is part of the larger solution.

But what if OECD organizations -- private companies, IGOs, NGOs -- are better at building efficient corporate institutions -- both free of corruption and infused with esprit de corps -- than the local states? Then m
aybe one way to improve third world health care systems could be the BOT-model (build-operate-transfer) used in traffic infrastructure? This especially given that the private enterprises -- or IGOs or NGOs or a mix -- build on, educate and retain local/domestic personnel for the operations.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Peacekeepers Can't Stop Hezbollah: EU Must Get Realistic

Just a quick link to Nancy Soderberg's fine New York Times analysis on the Hezbollah-Israel conflict:

As the death tolls in Lebanon and Israel rise, calls for a robust international peacekeeping force are increasing. But history should serve as warning. As we all know, the United States and France learned the cost of a poorly planned presence in 1983 when Hezbollah suicide bombers blew up their barracks, killing 300 troops. More to the point, there has been a peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon since 1978 (paradoxically named the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil) charged with confirming Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, restoring “international peace and security” and helping the Lebanese government restore its authority. The force, 2,000 strong, has failed in all but the first task, instead focusing on humanitarian aid. (...)

Now the United Nations and European Union officials are urging a strengthened force to “sort out the question of disarmament of the militia” in southern Lebanon and “guarantee sovereignty and freedom for Lebanon.” These are goals so ambitious that no peacekeeping force, not even NATO, could achieve them. In any case, one cannot deploy a peacekeeping force until the questions of disarmament and sovereignty have been addressed. Unless the path forward is agreed upon, the peacekeeping troops are at best without a clear mandate and at worst can become pawns in the negotiations.

The way forward in Lebanon is clear. First, the Syrians, the Lebanese and the Iranians must give up the fiction that Israel did not fully withdraw from Lebanon in 2000. (...) Second, no cease-fire will hold unless the root cause of the current crisis is addressed: the continuing presence of armed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon. Any solution will require a new security arrangement that not only disarms the Hezbollah militia but also mandates the deployment of Lebanese forces to the south, as well as a return of prisoners on both sides. Without such a deal, it would be folly to send in peacekeepers.

See also Arkin's Washington Post Blog analysis of the situation from an operational perspective: ceasefire is not likely anytime soon.

Blair's Long War Vision

Tony Blair's speech to the World Affairs Council in LA is highly interesting. The speech lays out a plan of change in doctrine for the war on terrorism: one that is already present, but need support, in the shape of the Long War concept, and the NSPD 44 and the DoD Directive 3000 (more on the Long War here; and the directives here). As such it fuses the American ambitiousness with the European critiques. Finally, it seems to address and contain Tony Corn's analysis of the GWOT/Long War.
[W]e must commit ourselves to a complete renaissance of our strategy to defeat those that threaten us. There is an arc of extremism now stretching across the Middle East and touching, with increasing definition, countries far outside that region. To defeat it will need an alliance of moderation, that paints a different future in which Muslim, Jew and Christian; Arab and Western; wealthy and developing nations can make progress in peace and harmony with each other. My argument to you today is this: we will not win the battle against this global extremism unless we win it at the level of values as much as force, unless we show we are even-handed, fair and just in our application of those values to the world. The point is this. This is war, but of a completely unconventional kind. (...)

My point is that this war can't be won in a conventional way. It can only be won by showing that our values are stronger, better and more just, more fair than the alternative. Doing this, however, requires us to change dramatically the focus of our policy. Unless we re-appraise our strategy, unless we revitalise the broader global agenda on poverty, climate change, trade, and in respect of the Middle East, bend every sinew of our will to making peace between Israel and Palestine, we will not win. And this is a battle we must win.

What is happening today out in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and beyond is an elemental struggle about the values that will shape our future. It is in part a struggle between what I will call reactionary Islam and moderate, mainstream Islam. But its implications go far wider. We are fighting a war, but not just against terrorism but about how the world should govern itself in the early 21st century, about global values.

The reason I say our response was even more momentous than it seemed at the time, is this. We could have chosen security as the battleground. But we didn't. We chose values. We said we didn't want another Taleban or a different Saddam. Rightly, in my view, we realised that you can't defeat a fanatical ideology just by imprisoning or killing its leaders; you have to defeat its ideas. (...) This is not just about security or military tactics. It is about hearts and minds, about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for. (...)

From the above it is clear that from now on, we need a whole strategy for the Middle East. If we are faced with an arc of extremism, we need a corresponding arc of moderation and reconciliation. Each part is linked. Progress between Israel and Palestine affects Iraq. Progress in Iraq affects democracy in the region. Progress for moderate, mainstream Islam anywhere puts reactionary Islam on the defensive everywhere. But none of it happens unless in each individual part the necessary energy and commitment is displayed not fitfully, but continuously. I said at the outset that the result of this struggle had effects wider than the region itself. Plainly that applies to our own security. This global Islamist terrorism began in the Middle East. Sort the Middle East and it will inexorably decline. The read-across, for example, from the region to the Muslim communities in Europe is almost instant.

But there is a less obvious sense in which the outcome determines the success of our wider world-view. For me, a victory for the moderates means an Islam that is open: open to globalisation, open to working with others of different faiths, open to alliances with other nations. In this way, this struggle is in fact part of a far wider debate. Though left and right still matter in politics, the increasing divide today is between open and closed. Is the answer to globalisation, protectionism or free trade? Is the answer to the pressure of mass migration, managed immigration or closed borders? Is the answer to global security threats, isolationism or engagement? Those are very big questions for US and for Europe.

Without hesitation, I am on the open side of the argument. The way for us to handle the challenge of globalisation is to compete better, more intelligently, more flexibly. We have to give our people confidence we can compete. See competition as a threat and we are already on the way to losing.

Blair has an amazing ability to communicate so people (including civil servants) can actually get this kind of practical, short-hand strategy. Would be nice if this prank was true. Regardless of what you feel about his policies, there are just too few politicians of his kind, anywhere.