View Full Version : JCISFA Conference Musing

02-01-2008, 08:30 PM
JCISFA Conference Musing (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/02/jcisfa-conference-musing/) by Dr. Jack (Dr. Jack Kem) at SWJ Blog.

The recent Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance (JCISFA) Symposium at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (29-31 Jan 2008) addressed the issue of Security Force Assistance and the way forward. The Symposium was entitled “Key Security Force Assistance Issues in an Age of Persistent Conflict.” Here are some observations from the conference:

There are a number of issues and assumptions that received general agreement. These included that we are in an era of “persistent conflict” and that there will be a requirement for some level of security force assistance (train, advise, and assist, or TAA) to be provided for at least the next decade and beyond. There was also an acknowledgement that “stability operations” are a core mission of the military on par with offensive and defensive operations – a concept from DOD 3000.05 and incorporated in the new FM 3-0 that will roll out in February 2008. The importance of joint and multinational operations and interagency participation in a “whole of government” was also embraced, although there are huge issues in the capacity and ability of the non-DOD agencies to make this happen in the near term...

Rob Thornton
02-02-2008, 03:27 PM
Lots of stuff going on the community at large related to Small Wars Community of Interest. Along with the symposium that JCISFA (the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance) there were a couple of other noteworthy events. There was some significant work and thinking done on TMAAG (Theater Military Advisory and Assistance Group), and the JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) and PKSOI (the Peace Keeping Stability Operations Institute out of the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks) hosted a conference at Gettysburg, PA in a shared effort with CALL (Center for Army Lessons Learned) to produce a Rule of Law Handbook for COCOM and JTF commanders and planners – but could also be used by those who must consider military support to Rule of Law (RoL) in their operations and planning.

I was fortunate enough to be the JCISFA representative and I was very impressed at the level of representation and participation from across the Joint & broader Inter-Agency communities. There was also some representation from the ICRC (Red Cross), and a presentation by a law professor from Indiana University who’d spent some time with his students tackling a Rule of Law scenario. I walked away far more literate in the broader scope of how important the issue of Rule of Law is in achieving our foreign policy objectives in terms of the pieces, parts and roles of the many agencies, organizations, commander and staffs play in addressing military support to Rule of Law; and how military operations and legal authorities are increasingly integrated with other legal authorities within the Inter-Agency, Host Nation, and broad Inter-National community.

The conference provided a nice balance between panel discussions and smaller work groups. The discussions were led by panels who are either currently dealing with or recently dealt with RoL issues with focuses on places like Afghanistan, Columbia, Horn of Africa – the panel compositions reflected the Inter-Agency requirements of dealing with RoL – given both the practical and legal consideration of the challenge – and offered the opportunities to ask questions to the people who’d actually had to work through the difficult issues they faced in pursuit of foreign policy objectives.

The small group work was broken out to give each small group cross cutting capabilities from the Inter-Agency and a senior mentor to guide the work toward producing thinking on what efforts (in this case we used the idea of Logical Lines of Operations) might be pursued to accomplish the effects that provide support to the RoL. We also tackled what tasks might be fleshed out under those LLOOs to help commander’s and planners dealing with the Rule of Law to allocate resources (money, time, people, units, etc.), and what other agencies and organizations might be coordinated with to accomplish military support to RoL. The overarching guidance was to strike a balance between universality and specificity in order to provide the work greater utility and longevity, in other words, try and focus more on a menu those working RoL could use to consider the conditions they face, not just the ones faced by others in the past.

The goal is to get something out to practitioners as quickly as possible that is both relevant and has utility so that we can better achieve unified effort on Rule of Law issues – the type of key planning requirements that help commanders, planners and staffs consider the problems and conditions they face.
I think JFCOM & PKSOI did a fantastic job on arranging and synchronizing the conference to address a difficult challenge we face in accomplishing our foreign policy objectives. This is one of those things that show the willingness of those working at the grass roots level to tackle tough Inter-Agency issues based on the guidance from some of the more senior leaders who understand the requirements we face now and ahead.

As a planner type at JCISFA, I came away with a much better understanding of how Security Force Assistance plays a role in the broader and more encompassing areas of Security Sector Reform and Rule of Law. This is an ongoing effort, and JFCOM has plans to continue the work to support the staffs and commanders who deal with RoL on both a sustained day to day basis through engagement with our partner states, and within the framework on achieving large scale/effort support to RoL such as we see in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A huge hat tip to them and the many agencies who participated in tackling tough issues to produce something that both lays the basis for considering and framing tough issues, and will produce something practical 04s and 05s can use to support the intent of their 06 through Flag Officer leadership. They did a great job, and I think exceeded even their own expectations – I came away bettered prepared to both work in my area, and provide better support to the larger effort.

Best, Rob

02-04-2008, 12:49 PM
It sounds like a great conference, Rob. Any idea when the RoL handbook will be coming out?


Rob Thornton
02-04-2008, 04:27 PM
Hi Marc,
JFCOM has a pretty good plan. See if I can articulate their plan without butchering it. They are going to spiral chapters out as they are finished - they understand that perfect is the enemy of good enough - there is a demand for this as CDRs and Staffs wrestle with the "whats" and "hows" of RoL issues and specifically with Military Support to Rule of Law.
I beleive the goal is to have a complete handbook out by the Fall - hopefully incorporated will be feedback from user on the spiraled chpaters.

Marc (and others) - does everybody understand the differences between say a handbook and doctrine?
Best, Rob

02-04-2008, 09:50 PM
Hi Rob,

Marc (and others) - does everybody understand the differences between say a handbook and doctrine?

I would assume that "handbook" means preliminary thoughts towards doctrine. Is that close to it?


Rob Thornton
02-04-2008, 10:15 PM
Marc - that can be true, but its not always true. Getting something codified into doctrine and into the hands of the user can be a long process where the final product can become divorced of what spawned it, or can wind up being watered down, depending on the interests and the players it represents - sort of like legislation - but without the penalties of enforcement. I'd say we are getting much better and faster for a number of reasons - IT, the war, etc but its still a condition. You'll often find the services putting something together on their own - that is both faster and more focused then waiting on a Joint Consensus. You'll also find some of the Joint doctrine picks up on existing service doctrine, then applies the Joint add-ons or take-aways - ex. they are working on a Joint 3-24.

This is an intersting one given not only the internal discussions it generated within the Army and Marines, but also the external ones - like USAF's MG Dunlap and some from the reitired community who still have a public life. In some cases you can wind up having to satisfice, or include things, omit things etc. in order to get something staffed and approved by all the services. I'm not sure if they do, but I think JFCOM should get a "Joint" Line Item Veto to expedite Joint doctrine and to keep it on track.

Hand Books and TTP type manuals don't have to get staffed like doctrine - they often are - in kind of an informal way - peer review type efforts, but the document does not have to get "stuck in court" while the lawyers argue for their lobby groups and constiuents. Now - don't get me wrong, sometimes things need to go to "court" but certainly not everything. I'm more of a fan of expressions like "perfect is the enemy of good enough" and of "descriptive" vs. "presrciptive" - however, some of the services, and some folks prefer or need it different - goes back to their service cultures.

So while JFCOM can have a reasonably short flash to bang on handbook, the tail for getting it into doctrine could grow far into future.

Does that help?

Best, Rob