December 14, 2005


Nation-building elevated (Rowan Scarborough, December 14, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Pentagon yesterday announced a landmark change in the use of combat troops, elevating "stability missions" -- commonly called nation-building -- to an equal status with major combat operations.

The evolution in war-planning priorities underscores how the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terror network continue to fundamentally reshape how U.S. military commanders deploy the armed forces.

Not only are U.S. forces becoming more mobile to better counter Islamic terrorists, but the chain of command now will be trained in how to "build" nations by creating indigenous security forces, democratic institutions and free markets.

In reality it's a far more important mission than combat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2005 12:27 PM

Iraq today, tomorrow the world?

Posted by: AllenS at December 14, 2005 12:44 PM

Actually it's all of a piece. But recognizing how the part it plays in the continuum of conflict requires a rich understanding of warfare that goes beyond the application of physical force against an enemy.

Our armed forces have been hobbled by their immersion in materialist metaphysics. The Army, especially, has yet to break the bonds of Elihu Root; although this is changing. The Marines are further along.

A very wise man put it well: "Machines don't fight wars, people do and they use their minds." Perhaps we are learning.

Posted by: Luciferous at December 14, 2005 12:50 PM

Shouldn't there be a civilian agency to oversee any nation building? Why should the military be used for this task?

Posted by: Brandon at December 14, 2005 2:03 PM

Because the military seems to have a level of competence that many civilian agencies don't have. and they have the guns - which you really, really, need in that kind of operation.

Posted by: Mikey at December 14, 2005 2:19 PM

Obviously you need to have the military to implement the policy, or at least be a part of the implementation. But I don't think they should be in charge, nor the Defense Department either.

Posted by: Brandon at December 14, 2005 3:51 PM

Brandon, Why not?

Posted by: jdkelly at December 14, 2005 6:08 PM

Brandon: that would be more-or-less the Clinton Administration model, where the military is tasked to implement the policies favored by the State Department. Since State and Defense are deadly enemies the result tends to be less than full enthusiasm on the part of the troops.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 14, 2005 6:41 PM

I understand what Brandon is thinking about and I have a quick answer--Unity of Command.

The "nation-building" under discussion is taking place in a threat environment. Fighting is still going on.

Furthermore, the client state which is being brought on line to take over some of its own defense is still dependent on us militarily. Therefore, we and they must have focused, mission-oriented, clear objectives and clearly defined lines of authority and responsibility.

I am sorry, there will be no "Department of Peace" hiring GS-Whatevers for the nation-building mission.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 14, 2005 6:53 PM

There's no line-of-command role for the State Department -- all such roles should be held by natives. You have to get a native government, supported by the US military, from the beginning.

Posted by: pj at December 14, 2005 8:36 PM