Friday, March 21, 2008

JFCOM: Shaping Ambition (Sort of) Implodes II

(This post is a follow up to yesterday's post, found here).

Why do I think that the apparent change in ambitions regarding the Shaping/CSE JOC is a missed opportunity?

First, a rehash of events. 1) Iraq: Invasion goes fine. Phase IV/Stabilization and Reconstruction plus handover does not. 2) December 2005, Gordon England signs DoD Directive 3000.05 which puts S&R on par with major combat operations inside US military. 3) The NSPD44 (National Security Presidential Directive) is issued. It hands ultimate responsibility for S&R/Phase IV to State. 4) State is not given substantial additional means and still has about half as many employees as Pentagon has lawyers, but does get the S/CRS: the Office of the COORDINATOR of reconstruction and stabilization. 5) S&R, which in the meantime has become SSTR gets its own JOC, which defines them as 'Military SUPPORT to Stabilization, Security, Transitioning and Reconstruction Ops'.

Why is this relevant for Shaping/CSE JOC question? Because, where Phase IV is the handover from military to civilian agencies (ours or host nation) and marks the beginning of the transition from war to peace (or regular politics) and from conflict to mere confrontation ... there Phase Zero is where prevention can happen; where initiatives are made in order to avert a conflict cycle. It is hence of crucial interest to the military. It furthermore contains many of the same civil-military dynamics and paradoxes as Phase IV. These are again the same dynamics that are in play within the COIN and interagency paradigm: How do you enable, plan for and execute a whole of government approach to issues that consist of a mix of political confrontation and possible conflict (often inside 'host nation')?

The problem is that when SSTR or Shaping/CSE doctrinally is defined as 'military support to', then the military is not the lead actor. And that makes it unlikely that the 3000.05 will get to function properly. Or that CSE will become a priority in Pentagon proper (notwithstanding the effect of the new presidency on the OSD).

There are therefore two reasons why the apparent change of ambition concerning Shaping/CSE is a missed opportunity: Mass and strategic attention. The two are related, in the sense of structured attention: If just a bit of Pentagon's structured attention gets diverted to political conflict prevention issues, then a lot will be gained. Pentagon has a budget of a size which means that a relatively small bit may equate a complete budget for other, related agencies. Only Pentagon has global logistical reach, extensive planning and analysis capability, and sufficient operational and executive mass.

The recurrent argument against dealing with the entire conflict cycle - as described in the Capstone document - is that, after all, war is about warfighting? Alas, not just. Given the means available in the Pentagon budget (again relative to State, CIA, USAid, NSC, etc) it will, in practice, be the military, which is left with the responsibility when things go awry. Just look at this chart from the great Crane/Terrill analysis from February 2003 (whole file here, pdf):

The US military - and the NATO armed forces as well - will in fact be asked to be able to if not formally manage then at least very substantially support whole conflict cycles. Or rather: They will be asked to deal extensively with the Phase IV things, as in Afghanistan, and not many civilian organizations will be there to help. Hence the PRTs.

But exactly this means that the military organizations should see an immediate self-centered interest in getting Shaping/CSE right. This not just conceptually, but also institutionally as an assured part of any two- or three-star's mindset. Shaping/CSE needs strategic attention. And a few bucks. But investing in systematic prevention planning and analysis capabilities will not be expensive.

Coming from a NATO country perspective the change in ambition for the Shaping/CSE JOC is therefore a disappointment. This kind of stuff will not emanate from NATO (SAC(T)). JFCOM needs to show intellectual leadership on this account. But, of course, I have no clue how the change played out - if there was involvement from elsewhere in the process once the scale of the ambition came clear.

And so, nonetheless, it will still be very interesting to the see the final text of the coming CS JOC.

It would be logical if Tom Barnett picked up on this, but he's busy writing the next book (and going to Springsteen concerts).

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