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Military Shapes Conditions for Peace

May 15, 2008
by Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

While most military planning focuses on how to win wars, a concept developed by forward-thinkers in the joint world is honing methods to prevent them. Dubbed cooperative security, the plan aims at helping countries with struggling governments and economies so they do not fall victim to internal conflict or become tempted to open their doors to terrorists.

The formalized document, titled “The Military Contribution to Cooperative Security,” is the brainchild of the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (JFCOM’s) Joint Innovation and Experimentation Directorate (J-9), Suffolk, Virginia, and the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), Stuttgart, Germany. Originally called “shaping,” the approach is now commonly referred to as cooperative security.

Rear Adm. Dan W. Davenport, USN, director, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Directorate (J-9), JFCOM, explains that nearly two years ago, the U.S. Defense Department recognized that it lacked a concept that covers its geographic combatant commanders’ day-to-day efforts that lead to a more stable security environment. The department sought concept proposals describing these activities, and JFCOM and EUCOM offerings were so similar that the Joint Staff directed the two to partner to create the final concept. In many ways, the joint operating concept essentially documents and institutionalizes what the military services have been doing for quite some time, the admiral allows.

The concept focuses on steps a joint force commander might take as part of a unified action to advance U.S. interests: increasing the number of nation-partners, influencing non-partners and potential adversaries, and mitigating the underlying causes for conflict and extremism. In addition, cooperative security sets the conditions that would enable the military to respond quickly when necessary.

The concept centers on mobilization, sustainment and cooperation across a range of security actions.

By helping bring about more order and stability in a country, it is less likely that extremist organizations would be welcome, he offers. “What we find is that in countries that have poor governance and poor economic conditions, there are a lot of discontented populations that are going to be more inclined to be influenced by extremists’ ideologies,” Adm. Davenport relates.

Cooperative security comprises five objectives that are broken down into essential capabilities and effects. The first is to strengthen the United States’ posture in the region. Advancing constructive security initiatives and building transnational and host-nation capacity and capabilities in the region is the second objective. According to the concept, the third goal is impeding the emergence of security threats in the region. The concept’s fourth objective focuses primarily on the work that a host nation must do to support cooperative security. This includes contributing to U.S. initiatives to address the underlying conditions, motivators and enablers of radical Islamist extremism, militancy and terrorism. Forging and enabling cooperative security arrangements to improve multinational operating performance is the concept’s final objective.

Adm. Davenport readily admits that while the objectives laid out in this document focus on the military, achieving them will require support not only from other nations but also from other departments within the U.S. government. “There's no way the military can do this by ourselves, and we should not even try. The fact is this is going to be a whole-of-government kind of approach. So the actual title of this document is ‘The Military Contribution to Cooperative Security.’ This is designed to help our commanders better understand how we need to work with other country teams—a complete inter-agency partnership—in order to contribute to the development of cooperative security. In most cases, the military will not even be the lead for our cooperative security efforts,” he states.

The admiral points to JFCOM’s multinational experiment series as an example of the comprehensive approach the cooperative security concept embraces. The series involves a group of 19 nations and NATO and focuses on a comprehensive approach to bringing about security.

Although he acknowledges that the military and other government agencies actually have been engaged for some time in many of the activities the concept puts forth, Adm. Davenport believes that current conditions around the world necessitate a more formalized methodology. “This document is not so much about a bunch of new ideas. It's really an effort to collect all the best practices that we've applied over the years, include them in a document and institutionalize them.”

Technology is not likely to play a large role during the initial stages of concept implementation. “This concept is really less about technology and more about the organizations, processes, authorities and leadership personnel development so that we have the right skill sets for this as well,” the admiral notes.

Industry also may have expertise to contribute in the future. Although the current concept speaks primarily to military and inter-agency activities, the lessons companies with international ties have learned could be very valuable, the admiral allows.

At the forefront of the challenges the military may face as it implements this concept are cultural issues. Adm. Davenport explains that it will involve re-evaluating and perhaps changing the way the services operate and train their personnel, particularly in developing the right skill sets.

The full version of this article is published in the June 2008 issue of SIGNAL Magazine, in the mail to AFCEA members and subscribers June 2, 2008. For information about purchasing this issue, joining AFCEA or subscribing to SIGNAL, contact AFCEA Member Services.