View Full Version : Progressive Reconstruction: A Methodology for Stabilization and Reconstruction

05-31-2006, 08:50 PM
One of the joys of maintaining a military related web page / discussion board is when one of our "Iron Majors" e-mails his thesis from a PME program for inclusion on the sites.

The SWJ / SWC offers up Major Karl Rohr's Naval Postgraduate School thesis Progressive Reconstruction: A Methodology for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/rohr.pdf) for your consideration. This thesis has been added to the extensive Small Wars Journal Reference Library (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/reference.htm).


The purpose of this thesis is to assess the prospects of a “Progressive Reconstruction” methodology for state building during and after military intervention in failed, failing or rogue states. Progressive Reconstruction requires cooperative civil-military intervention and coordinated pre-intervention planning. It relies upon superior military force for rapid decisive operations, stabilization and sufficient resources for reconstruction in order to generate a stable peace. This is not peacekeeping, or even peace enforcement,; it is military - political intervention into the sovereign affairs of a targeted state. It is an extreme measure taken in response to catastrophic events or in pre-emption of catastrophic circumstances. In this regard, the argument as to why an intervention was initiated is not relevant to this discussion. What is relevant is that these operations are on going, and the United States will continue to play a significant role in them as long as it maintains its global leadership position. Therefore, the US must develop a strong and flexible doctrine for interventions and state building that both complements and supplements other national strategies for expeditionary operations.

The current doctrine espoused by the US is based on the concept of stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations (SSTR). SSTR operations encompass the military and civilian activities conducted across the spectrum from peace to conflict to establish or maintain order in states and regions. Military support to SSTR represents the US Department of Defense’s activities that support US Government plans for operations that lead to sustainable peace while advancing American interests. According to the Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 3000.05 of 28 November 2005, military support to SSTR means establishing a sustainable peace while advancing US interests. This is the new American intent, a policy of direct engagement.

Prior to DoDD 3000.05 establishment, theoretical end-state development lagged, even as the United States was heavily committed to massive, costly SSTR operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite a notable need for both unity of effort and unity of command, American strategic planners continued to approach military intervention separately from post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization. Conflict resolution theories have focused on civil wars rather than externally driven regime change. Currently, no methodology for state building integrates the missions of externally imposed stabilization and reconstruction into one cohesive and flexible program.

The goal of this thesis is to outline an organizational framework and methodology for SSTR and its desired end state—a stable peace—that will take full advantage of the window of opportunity created by rapid decisive military actions. Initially, this paper describes the implementation and activities of each part of the organization in theory and practice. Secondly, it will describe how the basic sequence of steps in the transition from element to element can be conducted via three programs: (1) the establishment of an interim government, (2) implementing the rule of law, and (3)providing, promoting, and sustaining civil security. An immediate requirement is for a strong implementing organization that is unified, immediately effective, and designed to facilitate long-term success. Additionally, this thesis will reference several interventions, wars, and colonial actions that occurred over a course of one hundred and sixty two years, from 1844 to the present. Conducting a comparative analysis of methods, the author intends to demonstrate how certain measures have been implemented historically and to identify necessary adjustments to programs for future application. The comparative analysis is necessary in order to find the relevant stabilization trends and determine their impact on the campaigns...

07-01-2006, 03:17 PM
In part or in total the programs outlined in this thesis could be applied to any proposed intervention on the South Lebanon border or in the effort to recapture the initiative in Baghdad. Of particular interest are the uses of martial law, the concept of reopening previously closed windows of opportunity through direct action and the relook at the value of unity of command.

Thoughtful, well researched, and timely thesis. The first chapter is a bit academic and the writing a little choppy. However, the subsequent chapters flow well in an engaging style. The thesis as a whole presents a viable common sense, unified, approach to military intervention, stability and reconstruction operations. It should prove useful to commanders in the field and future operations planners.

Of note the author presents one of the only concrete definitions of 'sustainable peace': "Sustainable peace is the decisive turning point where the target state is capable of providing its own security, maintaining the rule of law, and exercising free and independent democratic governance without extensive external military and civilian support."

12-09-2006, 05:18 PM
Having just read this thesis, off the Naval Post Grad website, I was impressed with the section entitled 'Re-opening Windows.' Here the author examines historical counterinsurgencies that struggled in the first few years to eventual achieve success if not outright victory. Basically snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. He calls it reopening a window of opportunity. Or creating your own opportunity through proper organization and deliberate well lead effort.

"Following this logic, Progressive Reconstruction can be used to stabilize regions of instability in a preexisting guerilla war through the employment of combined RDO-RDS [sic: rapid decisive operations-rapid decisive stabilization] in a surgical manner. An unstable province can be targeted for isolation and infiltration and domination by government forces. These forces operating under Martial Law would exercise all the restrictive controls necessary to protect the people and infrastructure of the RDZ [regional development zone]. The application of these restrictive measures, while onerous, if well organized with a clear, disciplined and coherent multi-faceted mission and command structure, such as the RDZ, will be able to secure the population and deny the insurgents the foothold they desire.

Simple principles, in theory, the counterinsurgent isolates the enemy and denys him access to the population, or he isolates the population and then deny's the enemy access. The author does not mention in this section the battle of Algiers but you pick up a hidden reference to that concept, that even a large city can be segmented and isolated provided the proper effort with the right organization is put forth.


Definetely worth reading. -D.Moines