We will continue to rebalance our military capabilities to excel at counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, stability operations, and meeting increasingly sophisticated security threats, while ensuring our force is ready to address the full range of military operations.
—U.S. National Security Strategy
Over the past decade, the United States has conducted counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in two major theaters and participated in security cooperation (SC) operations worldwide to build partner capacity and defeat insurgents and terrorist networks. Successful COIN and SC operations hinge on the ability to fully integrate joint military and interagency capabilities to achieve strategic objectives. Recent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere show that when SC operations are synchronized with military and interagency elements of national power, they can have a positive impact on security and stability. The current emphasis on SC at the strategic and operational levels reflects its significance; however, there is no Department of Defense (DOD) command responsible for integrated SC joint doctrine, training, interagency coordination, and worldwide force employment. Considering the importance of integrated SC operations and their relevance to the current global security environment, a new SC functional combatant command should be created that synchronizes joint, interagency resources and incorporates lessons learned during the past decade of SC and capacitybuilding operations.
USAID member and Department of Agriculture expert with Zabul PRT evaluate well in village near Qalat, Afghanistan
U.S. Air Force (Brian Ferguson)
Recent operations substantiate the importance of SC and capacity-building operations that fully integrate military and civilian capabilities to improve security and stability. The success and experiences of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) show the utility of SC in the COIN environment and its potential to provide combatant commanders (CCDRs) a valuable tool to achieve operational objectives. Special Operations Forces (SOF) operations provide additional examples of how nontraditional civilian-military operations can be effective in COIN and SC. Security cooperation and capacity-building activities are being conducted around the globe in order to achieve national security objectives by intervening in failed or failing states. Integrated SC operations will be indispensable in the future global security environment, which Marine Corps Commandant General James F. Amos describes as a world where “failed states or those that cannot adequately govern their territory can become safe havens for terrorist, insurgent and criminal groups that threaten the U.S. and our allies.”1 To improve stability and security in this environment, the United States must emphasize phase zero shaping operations through integrated SC in order to “dissuade or deter potential adversaries and to solidify relationships with friends and allies.”2 By improving security in troubled regions through integrated SC operations, the United States can prevent or reduce conditions that often lead to terrorist activity. The goals outlined in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and statements by CCDRs emphasize this necessity.
Security cooperation is defined as “all Department of Defense [DOD] interactions with foreign defense establishments to build defense relationships that promote specific U.S. security interests, develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to a host nation.”3 Recent experiences show that when integrated with civilian agencies, SC operations can have a dramatic impact on a host nation’s ability to provide security and governance for its people. Although there are many examples of SC operations, there is no DOD central coordinating command responsible for integrated SC doctrine, training, and force employment. As a result, the potential for redundancy, lost institutional knowledge, insufficient doctrine, and insufficient coordination with various agencies exists. A joint forces SC functional combatant command would better posture the military and other U.S. Government (USG) agencies for the most likely future threat environments.
To make the case for a new functional combatant command that focuses on SC, this article initially provides a description of PRTs in Iraq and Afghanistan as an example of SC operations that integrate military and civilian capabilities. Next, it examines SC and COIN operations in the Philippines conducted by SOF. These operations ref lect a more proactive approach to integrated SC and capacity-building without introducing major combat forces. After providing examples of recent integrated SC operations, a review of the current National Security Strategy and other USG policy documents shows that a new combatant command responsible for SC is relevant today. This article also illustrates how an SC command would serve to complement the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Lastly, it addresses recommendations and lessons learned that should be incorporated into a new SC functional combatant command.
Provincial Reconstruction Teams
The PRT concept was introduced in Afghanistan in 2002 to expand the reach and effectiveness of the Afghan central government without introducing significantly more troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) area of responsibility (AOR). As explained in U.S. Army Field Manual (FM) 3–24, Counterinsurgency Operations, “PRTs were conceived as a means to extend the reach and enhance the legitimacy of the central government.”4 By 2003, PRTs were deployed in the ISAF AOR and comprised up to 100 Servicemembers and civilians with members of the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of Agriculture.5 Their mixture of members from DOD and other agencies was intended to provide unique capabilities and resources that could improve conditions throughout Afghanistan and enhance the effectiveness of the central government. Since they were first introduced, PRTs in Afghanistan have been under the direct control of the U.S. military and ISAF commanders.6 Although the Afghan government has successfully held elections, and conditions in the country have generally improved since the introduction of PRTs, the legitimacy of the national government is fragile, and violence and corruption remain.7 As a result, the capabilities PRTs offer will be needed well into the future.
PRTs were adopted in Iraq in 2005 and may be credited for much of the progress seen throughout the country. After major combat operations ended and a full-blown insurgency erupted, coalition forces recognized the need to employ PRTs to enhance security, stability, and governance in Iraq. PRTs in Iraq and Afghanistan are similar, but their composition and command and control vary. Unlike their counterparts in Afghanistan, which are directly controlled by the military with guidance from the PRT Executive Steering Committee in Kabul, PRTs in Iraq were led by the Department of State. Like PRTs in Afghanistan, the teams in Iraq consisted of military and civilian personnel with members from the Departments of State, Justice, and Agriculture, and USAID. Iraq PRTs were assigned military officers, including civil affairs and Army Corps of Engineers personnel, as deputy leaders and liaison officers. Embedded PRTs were also created in Iraq and were smaller than normal PRTs with only 8 to 12 Servicemembers and civilians per team.8
Although different in composition and command structure, PRTs share the common goal of improving security, stability, and governance. They are also similar in that they require close integration of multiple USG agencies in order to be effective. Even though PRTs have been recently introduced in Afghanistan and Iraq, the concept is not Vietnam as well as recent SOF operations in the Philippines are also examples of operations that integrate civilian and military resources to build partner capacity and improve stability, security, and governance. Each example proves that when military and civilian operations are conducted in conjunction with each other, the results can be substantial.
Proactive Approach to Integrated Security Cooperation
Ongoing COIN and SC operations conducted by SOF in the Philippines can be compared to PRT operations since their aim is also to improve security, stability, and governance through multiple agencies in coordination with the host nation. Operation Enduring Freedom−Philippines (OEF−P) began in 2002 as one of the main fronts in the war on terror.9 What makes OEF−P operations different from those of PRTs is that they were initiated before major combat forces were needed and were conducted by highly specialized SOF. Their success reinforces the importance of proactive PRT-like SC operations that integrate military and civilian capabilities and are designed to counter conditions that lead to insurgent or terrorist activity.
In February 2002, Joint Task Force (JTF) 510 was established in the Southern Philippines in support of OEF−P to quell a growing insurgency. The Southern Philippines was “notorious for civil unrest, lawlessness, terrorist activity, and Muslim separatist movements” and required a comprehensive approach to COIN without the introduction of major combat forces.10 Using a mix of civilian, military, and host nation resources, JTF 510 employed what is known as the indirect approach to COIN. By acting “by, with, and through” the host nation, the JTF supported the Philippine government’s efforts to defeat new and has been seen in other forms over the years. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) during the insurgency. Their approach called for “interactions between the host-nation government, the insurgents, the local populace, and international actors or sponsors.”11 Unlike the PRTs discussed above, JTF 510 focused heavily on the employment of SOF to work with indigenous forces in order to establish security. Once the security situation improved, civil affairs units were introduced and the U.S. Navy construction task group commenced infrastructure projects. The key to the entire operation was the close coordination with the Department of State country team to “facilitate interagency planning and synchronization.”12
Like PRTs, JTF 510 was successful using relatively small joint, interagency teams, which shows how synchronized SC operations can be effective in improving partner capacity to fight an insurgency. With a task force that consisted of only about 1,300 U.S. troops, JTF 510 achieved significant results. By focusing on building the capacity of the Philippine armed forces and emphasizing host nation, military, and USG agency cooperation, an insurgency has been mitigated. The fact that there is no functional combatant command to coordinate similar activities throughout the globe represents a shortfall in Washington’s capacity to achieve its operational and strategic objectives of improving stability and security and building partner capacity.
Compelling Need to Institutionalize Security Cooperation
In the post-9/11 era, irregular threats facing the United States require a wholeof-government approach to prevent the emergence of unstable environments like the one in Afghanistan before 9/11. The best strategy in the 21st century is to keep terroristfriendly environments from surfacing by building partner capacity without introducing significant numbers of ground forces. The 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) establishes the foundation for this approach and states that “our military will continue strengthening its capacity to partner with foreign counterparts, train and assist security forces, and pursue military-to-military ties with a broad range of governments.”13 The National Defense Strategy captures the intent of the NSS by stating that “by helping others to police themselves and their regions, we will collectively address threats to the broader international system.”14 The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report reinforces this point and explains that “building the capacity of partner nations can help prevent conflict from beginning or escalating, reducing the possibility that large and enduring deployments of U.S. or allied forces would be required.”15
The Secretary of Defense, CCDRs, and other Government agencies such as the Department of State and USAID have committed themselves to conducting SC with governments around the world to combat insurgencies and terrorist networks. A review of the National Security and National Defense Strategies and CCDR mission and posture statements ref lects a focus of effort in this regard. For instance, in the National Defense Strategy, the Secretary of Defense emphasized that “our forces have stepped up to the task of long-term reconstruction, development and governance.”16 It further states that the “U.S. Armed Forces will need to institutionalize and retain these capabilities, but this is no replacement for civilian involvement and expertise [and] we will continue to work with other U.S. Departments and Agencies, state and local governments, partners and allies, and international and multilateral organizations to achieve our objectives.”17 This statement highlights the importance of multi-agency PRT-like or SOF units capable of building partner capacity through integrated SC.
Marine instructs Phillippine police inspector on use of Mossberg 500 shotgun during exercise Balikatan 2011
U.S. Air Force (Cohen A. Young)
Combatant commands have focused on capacity-building and SC. In the 2010 U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Posture Statement, General William Ward emphasized the importance of working “in concert with our interagency partners, such as the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development, to ensure our plans and activities directly support U.S. foreign policy objectives.”18 He went on to stress that in order to meet our national defense challenges, a “holistic view of security” is needed that incorporates a whole-of-government approach. USAFRICOM applied this approach with the Department of State in the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. This program is funded by the Department of State and supported by USAFRICOM and helps selected militaries in Africa to improve their capacity to respond to crises.19 U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) also incorporates a whole-of-government approach to address security challenges in its AOR. As stated in USSOUTHCOM’s 2010 posture statement, “security will depend upon expanding cooperative engagement with multinational, multi-agency and public-private partners.”20
U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Strategy 2010 also underscored the importance of a “fully-integrated approach to security.” In what it calls the “3-D Construct,” USSOCOM aims to synchronize diplomacy, defense, and development in coordination with other instruments of national power. Their approach stresses “the integration and collaboration of each element [of national power] toward defined purposes . . . [and] requires all government departments and agencies to operate and collaborate in concert in order to produce an effective approach to national security.”21 Admiral Eric T. Olson, then commander of USSOCOM, explained to the House Armed Services Committee that SOF “are conducting a wide range of activities in dozens of countries around the world on any given day—at the request of the host government, with the approval of the U.S. Ambassador and under the operational control of the [United States].”22 SOF are clearly dedicated to meeting today’s security and stability challenges as proven by the success of JTF 510. Similar operations that integrate and synchronize military and civilian capabilities are necessary to respond to threats worldwide. Unfortunately, SOF lacks the resources to conduct operations on the scale necessary in the future security environment.
USSOCOM may serve as the most compelling example for creating a functional combatant command dedicated to SC. The founding of USSOCOM can be traced back to the April 24, 1980, failed attempt to rescue 53 American hostages held by Iran. The operation, known as Desert One, revealed DOD’s lack of jointness in handling such difficult missions and highlighted weaknesses in SOF. The event also highlighted the need for a dedicated command capable of responding to complex scenarios such as terrorist threats and low-intensity conf licts. Subsequent events and congressional initiatives reinforced this requirement since some felt “strongly that the DOD was not preparing adequately for future threats . . . [and] needed a clearer organizational focus and chain of command for special operations.”23 USSOCOM was created in 1987 in response to these concerns. In addition to its Title 10 responsibilities and authorities, the 2004 Unified Command Plan required USSOCOM to synchronize DOD plans against terrorist networks and conduct global operations as necessary.24 Considering it took just one event to serve as the catalyst for establishing USSOCOM, it stands to reason that the last decade of COIN operations and thousands of casualties warrant the creation of a command devoted to building partner capacity through integrated SC operations. Our failure to do so after the tough lessons in Vietnam reinforces this point.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has emphasized the requirement to integrate DOD, the Department of State, USAID, and other USG agencies to meet the demands of the long war. Like the CCDRs described above, he fully recognized the requirement to integrate multiple agencies to be effective. He also recognized that the civilian and military instruments of national power were not designed to handle the complex threats faced by the United States today. As he put it, the “military was designed to defeat other armies, navies, and air forces, not to advise, train, and equip them [and] . . . the United States’ civilian instruments of power were designed primarily to manage relationships between states, rather than to help build states from within.”25 In order to adapt to the most likely security environment, it is time to institutionalize integrated SC in DOD.
Unity of Effort without Unity of Command
While there may be unity of effort to integrate military and civilian capabilities at the tactical and operational levels, DOD does not have a command dedicated to that effort with the capacity to respond to SC demands facing the United States and its allies. In other words, DOD lacks unity of command in integrated SC and capacity-building operations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates articulated this problem by stating that the “institutional challenge we face at the Pentagon is that the various functions for building partner capacity are scattered across different parts of the military [and] there has not been enough attention paid to building the institutional capacity (such as defense ministries) or the human capital (including leadership skills and attitudes) needed to sustain security over the long term.”26 The solution may lie in a new command dedicated to facing the threats of the 21st century that synchronizes joint, interagency SC, and capacity-building operations.
The need for capacity-building and joint, interagency SC efforts is clearly understood. Unfortunately, DOD has not structured itself to meet current and future SC and capacity-building demands. PRTs have been immersed in operations that combine DOD and other USG agencies to enhance stability, security, and governance in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they are only dedicated to those theaters and are relatively small. USSOCOM also has tremendous experience in the SC and capacity-building arena but lacks the capacity to address requirements worldwide. Considering the widespread emphasis on SC and capacity-building, it appears there is unity of effort. However, since there is no central command authority within DOD to maintain and coordinate operations like those conducted by PRTs and SOF, there is no unity of command.
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
DSCA provides even more relevance for an SC functional combatant command. DSCA exists to synchronize “global security cooperation programs, funding and efforts across OSD, Joint Staff, State Department, COCOMs [combatant commands], the services and U.S. Industry [and] is responsible for the effective policy, processes, training, and financial management necessary to execute security cooperation within the DOD.”27 The agency oversees funding and education programs such as foreign military sales, foreign military financing, foreign internal defense, international military education and training, and humanitarian and civic assistance projects. With only 670 DSCA personnel worldwide focused mainly on military training, education, and financing, an SC command would serve as the operational arm of SC within DOD capable of supporting the global security cooperation effort.28
An SC command would provide DSCA a link among the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of SC operations and could deliver integrated interagency and military teams to conduct SC activities. As a source of funding and connection among key agencies, DSCA would be a key enabler for an integrated SC functional command. What an SC command could provide DOD and DSCA are tactical and operational SC capabilities with force employment options. In the same manner as USSOCOM provides highly trained forces to conduct special operations, an SC command could organize and train forces ready to conduct integrated SC operations and provide those forces to geographic CCDRs to execute their theater security cooperation plans. The command could maintain PRT-like SC forces capable of supporting DOD and DSCA strategic objectives. Several of USSOCOM’s Title 10 authorities and responsibilities might apply to an SC command. For instance, an SC command could develop SC operations strategy and tactics, conduct specialized courses of instruction, validate requirements, and ensure SC force readiness.29
Recommendations and Lessons Learned
Recognizing the importance of institutionalizing SC and capacity-building capabilities within DOD, it follows that the recent lessons learned must be captured in order to provide DOD a responsive and capable command ready to employ SC forces in joint, interagency, and multinational operations. Three primary recommendations must be considered if a new SC functional combatant command is to be successful. First, integrated SC operations require a central coordinating authority. Second, experiences have shown that joint, interagency doctrine must be created to guide SC operations. Finally, USG agencies supporting SC and capacity-building operations must be fully incorporated into the new command.
As explained above, the lack of a central coordinating authority to orchestrate SC operations for DOD represents a significant gap in the USG’s ability to promote security and stability and build partner capacity. Although CCDRS, DOD, DSCA, and the Department of State all emphasize the need to conduct joint, interagency operations, a dedicated command structure has yet to be created. This has caused problems in recent operations. For instance, the diversity of PRTs “created challenges in maintaining a common mission and coordinating an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders.”30 Although USSOCOM conducts integrated SC operations, it lacks the size and resources necessary to respond to the current and future security environment. A dedicated command would boost DOD’s capability to employ SC forces and synchronize joint, interagency efforts.
Given the limited size of and high demand for SOF forces, Andrew Krepinevich proposed that:
the Army and its sister services must be prepared to conduct training and advising of host nation militaries and, where necessary, allied and partner militaries. If the Army’s partners in the U.S. Government’s interagency element—e.g., the State Department, intelligence community, USAID—prove unable to meet their obligations as partners in restoring stability, the Army must also be prepared to engage in operations to help restore the threatened state’s governance, infrastructure, and the rule of law.31
He went on to explain that the Army should maintain a standing training and advisory force that is institutionalized in the Army through training and doctrine.32 On the other hand, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Peter W. Chiarelli believes that a separate low-intensity force is not required but that the United States “should consider increasing the number and adjusting the proportion of specialized units such as civil affairs, engineers, information operations, and others that play critical roles in stability operations.”33 In each case, the importance of increasing U.S. capacity to meet global SC and capacity-building requirements is clear. A command to orchestrate those efforts makes sense.
New doctrine must be created to implement an SC functional combatant command that incorporates lessons learned throughout DOD and USG agencies. Since SC operations around the globe will entail “the proliferation of partner countries and growing diversity in areas of operations, there is an ever-greater need for central direction, coordination, and standardization.”34
Operations conducted by PRTs are one example of what new SC doctrine must address. Joint Publication (JP) 3–24, Counterinsurgency, states that:
a PRT is an interim interagency organization designed to improve stability in a given area by helping build the legitimacy and effectiveness of a HN [host nation] local or provincial government in providing security to its citizens and delivering essential government services.
. . . While the PRTs are primarily concerned with addressing local conditions, they also work on building and improving communication and linkages among the central government, regional, and local agencies.
While this definition may be useful, it does not establish sufficient doctrine for PRTs or similar integrated SC forces. As expressed by one scholar, “The recent accomplishments of PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq deem them relevant, and future successes may depend on clearly delineated concepts relating to the broad scope of capabilities that PRTs bring to the table.”35
Fortunately, the foundation for joint integrated SC doctrine can be found in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) PRT Handbook and the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) PRTs in Iraq, as well as the CALL PRT Playbook.36 U.S. Army FM 3–07.1, Security Assistance Operations, provides another source to create doctrine applicable to a new SC command. The 2007 U.S. Army International Security Cooperation Policy will provide yet another reference for SC command doctrine. Using these and other sources, DOD can establish the doctrine necessary to consolidate SC training, force employment, and interagency coordination. In addition to key elements of the sources mentioned above, the doctrine must specifically address interagency cooperation so that DOD can institutionalize relationships and lessons learned in recent SC and capacity-building operations.
Special Forces Soldiers demonstrate Immediate Action Drills to Phillippine Infantrymen, Operation Enduring Freedom - Phillippines
U.S. Navy (Stacy Young)
One of the most critical lessons learned after years of operating in the SC environment is the need to fully incorporate civilian agencies to accomplish the mission. Robert Perrito, Coordinator of the Afghanistan Experience Project at the U.S. Institute of Peace, stressed that the United States must “match PRT military capabilities with a robust component of specially trained, adequately resourced, and logistically supported civilian representatives.” Perrito compared the PRT effort with that of the Vietnam-era CORDS program, a civilian-military organization led by USAID and consisting mostly of civilians. The Department of State assigned hundreds of Foreign Service Officers to CORDS in an effort to improve conditions in Vietnam.37 A new SC command should maintain the ability “to field, on short notice, CORDS [type] groups capable of providing advice, mentoring, and support to the host nation’s non-security institutions (including its civil administration and its legal, economic, and healthcare sectors).”38 Like PRTs, “CORDS groups would vary in size depending on the circumstances, but they should include military personnel, civilians made available from the interagency and expert personal services contractors.”39 This ability will depend heavily on the involvement of civilian agencies. The emphasis on civilian involvement will be essential to the success of future SC operations and must be an integral part of a new SC functional combatant command.
Some might argue that USSOCOM exists to address the SC and capacity-building efforts described in this article. Others may argue that existing commands and the current DOD DSCA structure can meet SC demands. For instance, some say that current geographic CCDRs can apply the PRT concept or tap into SOF assets in response to SC or capacity-building requirements. However, as mentioned, USSOCOM lacks the size to conduct SC and capacity-building on the scale necessary today and in the future. Additionally, the PRT concept has yet to be institutionalized as ref lected by the lack of doctrine and a central command to train, equip, and deploy PRT-like forces that are integrated with necessary civilian agencies. Although conventional forces may be capable of temporarily handling the SC and capacitybuilding role, they lack a central command authority to coordinate joint, interagency efforts necessary to meet SC demands. An SC functional combatant command could overcome these challenges.
In a RAND Corporation counterinsurgency study, Daniel Byman wrote, “The most obvious action for the United States to take in its COIN campaign is to anticipate the possibility of an insurgency developing before it materializes. Many of the recommended steps are relatively low cost and easy to implement, especially when compared with fighting a full-blown insurgency.”40
That statement emphasizes the necessity for the United States to be proactive in pursuing its National Security Strategy, and a new security cooperation functional combatant command may be one of the first steps to implement at relatively low cost yet have a tremendous impact. In what has been referred to as “persistent conf lict,” the United States and its allies will likely face the continuous complex challenges of failed or failing states that have the potential to become safe havens for insurgents or terrorist networks. In such an environment, the United States essentially finds itself in phase zero shaping operations, which are intended “to enhance international legitimacy and gain multinational cooperation in support of defined military and national strategic objectives.”41 A new SC functional combatant command would focus on this phase of operations. A command dedicated to integrated SC could ensure that efforts throughout DOD and the USG are aligned with the strategic and operational SC objectives expressed in U.S. national security policy documents. A new SC command could also ensure that SC at the tactical level is conducted with forces that have the appropriate doctrine, training, and readiness necessary to succeed. Instead of introducing SC and capacity-building forces after major ground combat operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new SC command could orchestrate DOD and interagency efforts before conf lict begins and before conditions arise that lead to terrorist activity or full-blown insurgencies.