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The Army and Multinational Peace Operations: Problems and Solutions

Authored by COL William J. Doll.

November 29, 1993

30 Pages

Brief Synopsis

Effectiveness in multinational peace operations has become an important issue for the Army. In addition to traditional peacekeeping to monitor cease-fires and truces, the Army is now involved in activities such as peace enforcement and the reconstruction of failed states. While the Army has well-established procedures for traditional peacekeeping, it clearly has much to analyze and learn about these new types of multinational peace operations.

As part of this process, the Strategic Studies Institute and the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute sponsored two roundtables at the Army War College in 1993. Both brought together diverse experts from within and outside the government, and sought to clarify key questions and problems rather than provide definitive answers. To encourage frank and open discussion, the roundtables operated on a nonattribution basis.

The first roundtable examined grand strategy and foreign policy. It dealt with issues such as the future of the United Nations and U.S. objectives in Third World conflict. The second was at the level of military strategy and operations, focusing on the concerns of regional combatant commands and U.S. components in multinational forces.

This is the report of the second roundtable. It is not a verbatim transcript of discussion at the roundtable, but an attempt to capture the essence of the debate and identify core issues which emerged.

Summary

Since current U.S. policy stresses multilateral peace operations, the military services are attempting to better understand this type of activity. To contribute to this process, the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army College and the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute sponsored two roundtables in late 1993 which brought together experts from the strategic community. The first examined grand strategic issues; the second, problems of a regional combatant commander and the commander of the U.S. contingent of a multinational force. This is the report of the second roundtable.

Recent peace operations suggest a number of persistent problems:

• Dual loyalties, ulterior motives, hidden agendas, dual chains of command, and constrained terms of reference among the contingents in a multinational force;
• Weak understanding of Third World conflicts and wavering commitment on the part of the United States;
• The tendency of the United States to dominate a coalition once it is committed.

The roundtable participants considered changes in attitudes the most pressing task for the Army. Leaders must understand and value peace operations. Most of the roundtable's recommendations for U.S. commanders in peace operations concern intellectual challenges:

• Seek clarity concerning endstates, capabilities, parameters, rules of engagement, procedures, and objectives.
• Coordinate and synchronize with other national military contingents, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and U.N. headquarters before and during a crisis. Encourage the development of combined doctrine, procedures, and training.
• Understand the conflict using new methods of conflict assessment and planning.
• Understand national contingent capabilities and leaders' personalities.
• Institutionalize staff experience with peace operations.

Roundtable participants encouraged further analysis of key issues:

• Profile of successful multinational force commanders;
• The process of force structuring used by the United Nations;
• The notion of "stand off" peace operations;
• Techniques to assess the resolvability of a conflict or its ripeness for resolution;
• Adequacy of the Joint Strategic Planning Process for multinational peace operations.

The roundtable focused on the concerns of a U.S. military commander anticipating near-term involvement in a peace operation. Full effectiveness, however, also depends on long-term changes. The ideas discussed at the roundtable suggest a program to improve Army support to multilateral peace operations. This would have four objectives:

• A healthy intellectual environment for improvements in understanding and capability;
• Assignment of top-quality personnel;
• Mature doctrine, planning procedures, and training;
• A holistic perspective.


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