Howard R. Lind President and Executive Director
1725 I Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006
November 29, 2018
The Honorable Mark Esper Secretary of the Army 1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Esper,
I write to share the industry perspective of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) regarding the recent recommendation to shut down the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) division of the Army War College in Carlisle Pennsylvania. The bottom line up front is that ISOA opposes any reduction or closure of this vital organization. We believe the closing of this institution would have dire consequences for U.S. policies and efforts to assuage and end the world’s most dire conflicts. The United States has engaged in many stability operations throughout its history and inevitably our national interest will require further participation in these vital missions into the future. For American service members the closure will create unnecessary complications and significantly increase risks for those assigned to assist in these critical missions.
By way of introduction, ISOA is a global partnership of more than 110 private sector and nongovernmental organizational members providing critical services in support of U.S. military and stability operations missions in fragile and dangerous environments worldwide. ISOA members provide the full spectrum of stability operations support, from logistics and transportation, to governance and security. ISOA member companies collectively execute contracts, services, and programs to the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State (DOS), and to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) missions totaling more than $50B annually. Many ISOA members are led and staffed by U.S. combat veterans who learned the tough lessons on doing stability operations while honorably serving the United States in the field, from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
As you are aware PKSOI was established in 1993, initially as the "Peacekeeping Institute." Today, however, national policy demands have led to a much broader operational focus. Considering its critical evolution to support the military’s increasingly complex missions, a more accurate name for the organization might be “Stability Operations Institute”.
As directed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the United States military and support sectors are to “compete, deter, and win” in the complex environments in which we are engaged through “a more lethal, resilient, and rapidly improving Joint Force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners.” Such activities will require that today’s leaders, both on and off the battlefield, have ready access to specialized experts who preserve institutional memory of both mistakes and innovations, and to scholarly resources that can offer solutions in these complex missions. This is exactly why PKSOI is so indispensable—it is a vast repository of lessons-learned regarding stability operations, as well as a cadre of experts from across the interagency and academia standing ready to assist leadership with immediate advice, historical insights, policy options and strategic guidance.
When issues are not urgent but nonetheless imminent, PKSOI offers leaders the scholarly tools to translate lessons from the past into ideas for the future; an environment in which new strategies and approaches are beta tested so unnecessary tactical errors do not lead to strategic policy failure. PKSOI is renown as a Joint Force
“think tank” regarding strategic warfare—conventional and irregular—and is widely respected by policy makers and operators. Given the recent directives of the 2018 Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR), the interagency—DoD, DOS and USAID—are to realign stabilization activities to ensure that all foreign aid has an immediate and measurable payoff in terms of U.S. diplomatic and national security objectives. PKSOI must remain available and supported as it is an invaluable tool for the military and interagency as they work toward this new goal.
Although ISOA members are vital to supporting the military stability missions, the association is not privy to the rationale for shuttering PKSOI. Of note, however, is the financial argument stated in open letters and opinion pieces which emphasize that PKSOI is worth its price as it is the chief coordinating organization for doctrine, training, and education needed to effectively conduct complex missions in states and regions threatened by, or currently experiencing, conflict, terrorism, and other threats to security.
PKSOI has always been an invaluable resource and partner to our association and its members. American success in stability operations matters to our industry more than most. Every single day ISOA’s members are in the field, often in the most difficult and dangerous environments, supporting American service members and sharing their risks, and with sound policies, successes. On behalf of these dedicated men and women, we urge that the Army continue to support the Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the Army War College.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.
Howard R. Lind
President and Executive Director
International Stability Operations Association