Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Coming JFCOM 'Shaping' JOC: A Revolution In Development Policy?

The creation of African Command (AFRICOM) is accompanied by a the development of a new Joint Operating Concept (JOC) with potentially huge ramifications for the continent and for the whole development sector -- including the largest non-American partners, from the national development agencies (DfID, Danida, etc) over the EU and especially the UN to of course the 'host nations' in particularly Africa.

This new JOC is called Shaping. It is the logical prequel to the SSTR JOC -- published in its final version in December 06 after several years of preparation. The SSTR JOC deals with Stabilization, Security, Transition and Reconstruction Operations and is the new version of the old S&R. The inclusion of especially transitioning points to the growing understanding within the Pentagon system of the importance of founding the conceptual thinking about use of force on a properly clausewitzian basis: namely that military operations must always be thought of as an element in a larger political concept (not to say that MCOs do not have to function in a more clearcut independent way). The philosophical critique has been expressed particularly well by Antulio J. Echevarria, e.g. in this paper Toward An American Way of War. The SSTR JOC basically underpins all MOOTWs including counterinsurgency.

SSTR Ops are those contained inside what is known as Phase IV: what comes after Phase III or MCO (Major Combat Operations). As I wrote in a report on Transitioning (in Danish), back in summer '05, this distinction between the phases is breaking down: the subsequent publication of the DoD Directive 3000.05 which puts SSTR on par with MCO within the US military; the NSPD 44, which gives States responsibility for Phase IV; and the extensive work going on in all sectors of USG to improve inter-agency cooperation, planning and training (without much to show for it so far) shows how the breakdown is real but also causing a lot of headaches.

Where SSTR equals Phase IV, the Shaping JOC is then tasked with dealing with Phase 0. Phase 0 is about prevention of conflict, and should in this perspective be understood as an element in the Long War ... or the GWOT (global war on terrorism) as it apparently and weirdly still is called in Pentagon circles. This PPT file shows not only the timeline for the new Shaping JOC (version 1.0 is due in August '07) but also the basic aspirations of the JOC:
Military Problem: In the complex future environment, economic, demographic and societal stressors will lead to areas of instability. Future state and non-state adversaries, to include extremist ideologues, will use all means available to:
  • exploit this instability by undermining partnerships and further destabilizing weak governments,
  • deny or disrupt US influence or access, and
  • gain sanctuary in ungoverned, unstable, and remote areas
The future Joint Force Commander must be capable of working both unilaterally and closely with multinational, interagency and other partners to maintain or enhance stability, prevent or mitigate crises and set the conditions for access and responsive crisis intervention.

Scope: This JOC will focus on the actions a joint force commander might take in the context of unified action to advance US interests by:
  • building partnership capacity
  • influencing non-partners and potential adversaries
  • mitigating the underlying causes of conflict and extremism; and
  • setting the conditions that enable rapid action when military intervention is required
Proposed Solution: The Joint Force, as a part of a larger multinational and interagency effort, conducts continuous, anticipatory shaping operations that build partnerships with governmental, nongovernmental, regional and international organizations and reduce the drivers of conflict and instability in order to prevent or mitigate conflict or other crises and set the conditions for success in other operations—all aimed at a secure global environment favorable to US interests.
How do you '[mitigate] the underlying causes of conflict and extremism', and 'mitigate conflict and other crises'? Well, this is exactly the work of the aggregate development organisations: from the UKs PCRU and USAID plus international NGOs like the ICG to more long-term development organisations like UNDP. Mitigating underlying causes of conflict means addressing grievances before they turn into rebellion ... it means strengthening the local state so that it delivers to its citizens: from basic infrastructure, a working, stable and sustainable economy that provides jobs, rule of law and a decent political system.

The Pentagon will have their hands full -- and it is extremely important that they get the conceptual thinking right here. I hope the drafters will consult leading civilian development and political science experts and the extensive social science insights inside the CIA.

As a consequence of the NSPD 44, both the SSTR and the Shaping JOC are entitled "Military Support to..." but the Shaping PPT nevertheless underlines the probably necessity for the military to be able to deal unilaterally with the issue, i.e. have the capabilities to carry out these things without the interagency process. This is true also for SSTR: in many situations the military is the only organization present, as is visible in e.g. Afghanistan.

What are the ramifications? On the Pentagon side, the answer depends not only on the thinking to be done, but also on the implementation. The interesting thing here is that AFRICOM will offer the Shaping JOC a natural home (EUCOM shares the lead on the JOC development with JFCOM: will probably be transferred to AFRICOM?) -- it will not have to battle (a losing) struggle to get influence within the other COCOMs. Its reception within SOCOM is, however, very important.
As Tom Barnett has noted, the existing CJTF-HOA will probably form the basis for AFRICOM even if it is placed in Stuttgart to begin with. Stuttgart is also the home of a SOCOM force (10th Special Forces Group, 1st Battalion). This may be a coincidence but it is probably not: The Long War's shaping missions will not solely be about development-like issues but will also include sharp-end elements, which is where the special forces come in handy as they excell in these more surgical operations. AFRICOM's tasks may be very political in nature but they will include very military means.

On the civilian side, including the whole of the development universe: You better wake up and follow this development closely. The Pentagon has so much logistical and funding clout that if the Shaping concept does indeed get feet, then there will be some very real opportunities to move the development agenda forward. My guess is, however, that most likely the development crowd will shy away from cooperation with the Pentagon. This is especially the case for the European development agencies.

Finally, there is NATO: This is stuff which should interest the CIMIC Centre of Excellence, but also people at higher echelons: anyone in the NATO militaries dealing with strategic planning.

This is a thing to be followed closely!

EDIT: This old post gets a lot of readers. Please do not miss the later posts on Shaping, either by clicking here (and show all posts on shaping); or by going to these two posts, which further follow and evaluate Shaping/CSE:

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