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Government in a Box
Stephen A Mackey
President Obama talked about moving the Unites States off a permanent war footing in his 2014 State of the Union Address. He went on to discuss continued threats posed by extremists in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Mali. He said reliance on large scale military deployments to address these foes may be counter to our best interests and instead offered that working with host nation partners to disrupt and dismantle terror networks may offer the best chance for success. The planning for this capacity needs to begin well in advance of when it is needed. How can we build a light, scalable, deployable capability to meet the Presidents intent?
This challenge is not new. In 2005 President Bush signed National Security Presidential Decision (NSPD) 44 (Management of Interagency Efforts Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization). This high level policy document states that Stability Operations aim to prevent foreign territory from being used as a base of operations or safe haven for extremist terrorists or others who pose a threat to United States foreign policy, security, or economic interests. This foreshadows President Obama’s comments almost a decade later that the United States cannot afford to let portions of the globe become lawless areas where terrorists can safely plot their strikes against the United States and her allies.
Stability operations are seldom waged in great geographic neighborhoods. The threats posed by these environments are such that United States involvement is typically led by the armed forces. NSPD 44 tasks the Secretary of State to coordinate and lead USG efforts in the Stabilization and Reconstruction area. The Department of State (DoS) seldom has the resources to lead in the hostile environment typical of stability operations. Recognizing this capability gap, the Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction on Stability Operations (DoD I 3000.05, Stability Operations (2009)) assumes the DoD will be forced to lead stability operations until it is feasible to transition to another entity. The Instruction tasks the DoD to address many issues, the most broad of which is to establish civil security and civilian control, a very wide scope of responsibilities.
The United States military is masterfully trained in many respects. In spite of over a decade of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, developing the institutional and ministerial capacity critical to long term host nation self-sufficiency has not been a strong suit. During my year in Afghanistan a USG advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, I often heard that we (the US and our coalition partners) fought the 12 year war in separate one year increments. Constant turnover, lack of properly qualified advisors, and inconsistent training hampered training of the Afghans. This situation resulted in an Afghan government with only limited skill in managing the resource allocation role critical to a functional government.
How do we remedy this? Recruiting logisticians, strategic planners, program managers, and budget experts from across the DoD may offer a way to rapidly build host nation capacity. Career civil servants, armed with decades of technical experience may be able to build the self-supporting governments we need as long range meaningful, partners. Capacity creation, specifically, the ability to transform coalition funding into counter terrorism results, may facilitate rapid exit of the USG from the area in conflict. This will save both lives and resources, and provide effective long term results.
How do we marshal this cadre? The Biennial Assessment of Stability Operations Capabilities sponsored by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Preserving Stability Operations Capabilities to meet Future Challenges (2012)) cited lack of a proponent as a key factor preventing stability operations capabilities from moving forward. Similar to Title 10 responsibilities of a Service, the Proponent would analyze needs (informed by Combat Commanders annual assessments) and develop the tools required to address the requirements. A critical stability operations tool is trained people. Accordingly, a major function of the Proponent would be to analyze requirements and develop the manning templates to accomplish the mission. The template would be a mix of DoD civilians, people loaned from other quarters of government, and rounded out with civilian contractors. The USG civilians would be actively recruited, trained, battle rostered, and called upon to participate in periodic training exercises. Vendors could be incentivized to maintain a pool of stability professionals available to support operations by the use of standing Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contracts in which a key element of the contract incentive structure was their ability to rapidly deploy trained personnel.
Underpinning all of this is resource availability. Engaging in the resourcing fight would be a key Proponent role. Specifically, it would advocate embedding a portion of former Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds into the DoD base budget to fund standing capacity to support contingency operations and sustainment training. The cost of combating terrorism using host nation forces is trivial compared to combating these threats with US troops. A small number of stability advisors building organic capacity and self-sustainment could save both dollars as well as lives. Getting funds from Congress is not a trivial task. However, arguing that a deployable, scalable force in readiness can save money and lives in the next stability operation, and the one after that, should give it traction.
The Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) created a new Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF). Jointly administered and funded by the DoD and the DoS, the fund is designed to carry out security, counterterrorism, and rule of law programs. Initially funded for 350 Million dollars annually, this is a potential funding source that can be leveraged. Recognizing shortcoming in the Defense Acquisition Workforce, Congress established the Defense Acquisition Working Development Fund (DAWDF) in the 2008 NDAA. This approach successfully expanded the Acquisition workforce by over 5,000 members since its inception. On a smaller scale, the GSCF funding stream may allow for the establishment of a small cadre of experienced stability operations civilians will emerge.
New funds to the DoD base budget for stability operations could “co-pay” a portion of the salaries for battle rostered DOD civilians. Cost sharing would lessen the sting the loss of these people from their parent commands for deployments would feel. It also provides these individuals with a not deployed “home” and career, one at which they will spend the preponderance of their working lives. This is critical as even the most dedicated (and biggest adrenaline junky) stability operations civilian needs a career in an organization and dwell time between deployments.
Great strides have been made over the past decade in providing civilian technocrats to support stability operations. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) answered the call from the field for senior level advisors with the Ministry of Defense Advisor Program (MODA) program. This program provides senior DoD civilians to assist host nations in ministerial development. MODA currently has 58 civilians deployed to Afghanistan and has expanded its scope to include Yemen and Bosnia. The Afghan-Pakistan Hands program is also a great success story. Managed by the Joint Staff, this program has about 300 members. Similarly, the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) successfully provided employment opportunities in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This took insurgents out of the fight and put them to work as members of the productive local economy. This effort saved US and Coalition lives as well as started these troubled nations towards economic success.
These programs are doing great things but they are operating independently. Placing these programs under one organization provides unity of effort. Also, consolidating these organizations provides the manning nucleus needed to begin to establish a Proponent, perhaps a new Defense Agency focused on creating and sustain a true civilian expeditionary workforce capacity.
A Civilian Expeditionary Force Defense Agency would promote creation of a readily deployable “Government in a Box” to meet contingencies. A recommend approach to achieve this capability is to establish a new Defense Agency subordinate to a USD. Creating this entity offers senior level advocacy with three key constituencies. First, the DoD organizations that own the technocrats needed for this program to be a success. A Defense Agency Director would have peer to peer discussion with senior leaders across the entire DoD civilian workforce. This allows for recruitment of the top quality professionals need for success. Second, this level of representation shapes future success by gaining entry into the deliberative bodies so important in shaping the budget. Finally, this entity would serve as the focal point in discussions with the Congress on potential cost avoidance generated by creating a cadre of DoD civilian stability operations professionals. The recent budget discussions talk of a much leaner force. In light of this future force, planning for the next stability operations needs to begin in earnest.
This paper reflects my personal experiences and opinions, and is not an endorsement by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Government.