New Manual Hopes to Guide Civilian Thinking on Stabilization and Reconstruction
Last year the Army released its groundbreaking field manual on stability operations, FM 3-07, a key driver in getting the service to prepare itself for a future in which it worked between the extremes of conventional offensive and defensive military action. But many of the stabilization and reconstruction tasks it envisaged — training foreign militaries, supporting economic development, helping a host government govern — required close cooperation with civilian agencies that didn’t have an equivalent manual. Today that changed.
A team of 100 authors and researchers at the U.S. Institute of Peace, led by Beth Cole, has published a civilian’s manual, Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction, in the hope of getting civilian agencies, non-governmental organizations and international partners to coalesce around a “strategic concept” for operations in non-traditional conflict zones like Iraq or Afghanistan. The manual, published today, came after Amb. John Herbst, head of stabilization and reconstruction efforts for the State Department, observed two years ago that there wasn’t a unified civilian doctrinal publication for the sorts of complex operations that the U.S. was finding itself involved in fighting. Cole’s effort is the answer. “This is rocket science,” she said.
The document itself — which I’ve obtained in print; it should be available later today on USIP’s website and perhaps the State Department’s blog — identifies five common “end states” for what Cole said “planners, practitioners and decisionmakers” should envision for stabilization and reconstruction efforts: a safe, secure environment; the rule of law; social well-being; a stable government; and a sustainable economy. From there, senior policymakers can conceive of how to produce them and what resources are necessary. The manual isn’t intended for civilian government advisers out in, say, Afghanistan’s Helmand Province — it’s about “why” and not “how,” Cole says.
Herbst was the first recipient of the brand-new manual — he got a copy two weeks ago and is responsible for disseminating it throughout the U.S. government and building a constituency for its concepts within the Obama administration. But Cole has a heavy-hitter partner in Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the head of the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth and the driving force behind FM 3-07. Sitting next to Cole this morning at a small briefing on the manual for reporters, Caldwell explained that the overarching purpose behind his stability operations field manual was to effect a “change in our culture, a change in our mindset,” and that the “civilian side doesn’t have a system set up” to achieve the same result. Until now.