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Thread: Military-led Development Efforts

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    Exclamation Military-led Development Efforts

    All -

    This is my first SWJ post so I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to read and respond as able.

    I am currently beginning an academic research project focusing on U.S. Military-led development efforts, the likes of which have become increasingly common in the Horn of Africa as led by AFRICOM and of course in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am primarily interested in activities engaged in by the military that traditionally have been associated, at least by the general public, with non-military aid and development organizations (both within and outside government).

    I have attempted to begin my research with a narrow focus in the hopes of analyzing the successes/failures of specific programs. I realize that these represent just a drop in the bucket and would certainly be open to suggestions for other efforts to focus on as the project proceeds. As of now, I am concentrating on:

    1) The Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP)
    2) DoD's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO)

    I would greatly appreciate any open source materials or information that SWJ readers or contributors might have to share. In addition, any suggestions and contact information for SMEs that might be willing to answer a few emails regarding these programs.

    Thank you very much.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-01-2010 at 10:34 PM. Reason: Personal email removed as per SWC policy and PM to author

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    Mike - have you seen the June 2010 report on the lessons learned by the TFBSO?

    http://tfbso.defense.gov/www/Lessons_Learned_Report.pdf

    VC

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    The two Inspector General sites have reports on development efforts, including CERP...just need to dig around a little:
    http://www.sigir.mil/
    http://www.sigar.mil/

    This paper is the first quality evaluation of CERP in Iraq:
    econ.ucsd.edu/~elib/ham.pdf

    Also, take a look at the "Expeditionary Economics" project lead by the Kaufman Foundation with the military. I'm just beginning some work for this project, so let me know if you have any other questions. And feel free to forward your work, I'm particularly interested in the TFBSO.
    http://www.kauffman.org/uploadedFile...edEcon0510.pdf
    http://sites.kauffman.org/eee/index.cfm
    http://sites.kauffman.org/eee/video.cfm

    Good Luck,
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-01-2010 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Personal email removed as per SWC policy and PM to author

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    VC - I have seen the CSIS report but thanks for the reply! Let me know if you have any more thoughts.

    Josh - Thanks for the leads. I actually was just reading the CERP paper which I found posted on Abu Muqawama, the CNAS blog. I'll take a look at the Kaufman pieces and get back to you. Greatly appreciate the help here.

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    Default Tough Study

    I have attempted to begin my research with a narrow focus in the hopes of analyzing the successes/failures of specific programs.
    MBJ I think your study will be helpful to the community and wish you the best. We have had several emotional debates in the SWJ concil on this topic, so if I can find them I'll send you a link or two.

    I pasted your comment above to point out one the biggest challenges in your study, and that is identifying the metrics to determine if the projects have been successful our not. I think you'll need data from a significant period of time to accurately determine if "development" versus humanitarian assistance (restoring essential services) was successful.

    Unfortunately, most U.S. government led (to include the military) development efforts are poorly executed and the classic "The Ugly American" is as true today as it was when it was written. Our economic development efforts with few examples are largely Kodak moments for the media, then we scurry back to our enclaves. This is true for the State Department and the Military. There have been exceptions to the rule, but the rule is pretty darned consistent.

    In a combat zone where we just occupied a country, CERP funds are and were essential to restore essential services, but that isn't development.

    What is development? How do you determine if there was development? How do you determine if our assistance was instrumental in any way in facilitating the development?

    Instead of looking at Iraq (pardon my negativism, but the friends of Chenny squandered billions of dollars with limited return on investment, so it doesn't prove that development efforts can or can't work, they were just poorly executed there), take a look at what we did at the end of WWII, at the end of the Korean conflict, and what we're doing now in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Bangladesh, Philippines, etc. to get a wider view where you may be able to identify some fairly constant variables that contributed to success or failure. We already know we haven't done well in the main two current fights, but I think we have made progress elsewhere.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default WHAM in Afghanistan: a report on development aid in COIN ops

    Maybe this thread, under above title can help:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=10084

    Found whilst looking for another topic.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    In a combat zone where we just occupied a country, CERP funds are and were essential to restore essential services, but that isn't development.
    Exactly! But I would go further to say that in a more mature combat zone where we have occupied terrain for some time, CERP still isn't development. It gets misconstrued as such, and then all sorts of bad things tend to happen when it is expected to be applied as such.

    I have similar questions regarding what development is. I think that is as instrumental to finding solutions as defining what COIN is.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    This study of CJTF-HOA's efforts in Kenya's northeast may be of interest:

    Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship Between Aid and Security in Kenya

    The emphasis is on how small, local projects done without community input cannot turn perceptions of American foreign policy.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default The first word in CERP is commander's

    Exactly! But I would go further to say that in a more mature combat zone where we have occupied terrain for some time, CERP still isn't development. It gets misconstrued as such, and then all sorts of bad things tend to happen when it is expected to be applied as such.
    Absolutely correct. CERP is a shaping tool for the commander, spent to further the commander's goals, especially security. As that security improves, CERP can drift off target toward development, a shift encouraged by a vacum in real development planning and funding by interagency partners at State and USAID. One sometimes finds planning at State and USAID centered on how to gain control of and then use CERP funds. This tendency grows when you jump from embedded PRTs working with and within a BCT's battlespace to PRTs according to province. The first word in CERP is commander's, not ambassador, director, or even counsellor-minister.

    Best
    Tom

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    One sometimes finds planning at State and USAID centered on how to gain control of and then use CERP funds. This tendency grows when you jump from embedded PRTs working with and within a BCT's battlespace to PRTs according to province. The first word in CERP is commander's, not ambassador, director, or even counsellor-minister.
    True story from my last deployment...

    A representative from the Mosul-based PRT pays a visit to our unit at its location SW of Tal Afar, and with a Cheshire Cat grin when describing his ideas and how he only needs some backing through the use of CERP money.

    My boss could see right through the smokescreen, and politely asked him why he thought CERP money should be used against projects if he, from the PRT on high, could not source the funding stream to do it. Mr. Cat lost his smirk after that and went out on the next blackhawk available.

    Look, CERP is part of the whole money as a weapon system paradigm, and frankly, it isn't as transparent and happy and cute as some would make it seem. It is about influence to support security aims, among other things. When doing things for the sake of security, and heaven forbid, capture/kill, it lends itself to exasperation on many front, though you know exactly what you want to to and who you intend to influence.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    True story from my last deployment...

    A representative from the Mosul-based PRT pays a visit to our unit at its location SW of Tal Afar, and with a Cheshire Cat grin when describing his ideas and how he only needs some backing through the use of CERP money.

    My boss could see right through the smokescreen, and politely asked him why he thought CERP money should be used against projects if he, from the PRT on high, could not source the funding stream to do it. Mr. Cat lost his smirk after that and went out on the next blackhawk available.

    Look, CERP is part of the whole money as a weapon system paradigm, and frankly, it isn't as transparent and happy and cute as some would make it seem. It is about influence to support security aims, among other things. When doing things for the sake of security, and heaven forbid, capture/kill, it lends itself to exasperation on many front, though you know exactly what you want to to and who you intend to influence.
    Pretty much matches my experiences in this arena, albeit writ on a larger stage

    My favorite guidance on CERP was "think Chicago ward politics"


    Best
    Tom

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    Tom:

    Right. CERP is for emergencies---I always think of it as the necessary emergency relief services we otherwise had no format for.

    MBJ:

    Most of it is grain of salt stuff. Somebody thought they were doing good, and wrote glowing reports afterwards---ask an Iraqi, and their views might have been very different, or, as custis's example---somebody's at a PRT's "big idea" for their weekly sitrep.

    I was actually more intrigued by your reference to military going around africa, etc., doing non-military things. Bear in mind that our USACE does bridges, dams, hydropower, emergency relief.

    A friend just "dodged a bullet" on a tumor, finally ruled non-malignant by the highest authority for cancer cells---Army Pathology Lab.

    As a senior DoS advisor in N. Iraq, I came only with a DoS laptop---not a toughbook, no GIS, etc... just report-writing software.

    The folks I worked with who were doing the heavy lifting were the mil folks with the D9 Earth Movers, mobility, and security. They made it happen, I advised.

    Interestingly, when we were pushing the Mabe Johnson temporary bridges across the Tigris, the company's guy pointed out that Iraq, and arab counties in general were always his biggest customers---mostly through their military Corps of Engineers-equivalents.

    Before 2003, Taji was the home of the Iraqi CoE, and they stockpiled all the bridges there. After a flood or an Iranian bombing, they could re-open a bridge in three days (or so I am told).

    There is a lot that a military civil engineering, big project, and emergency relief-side almost universally does, and does well---all over the World.

    But they are very different missions, approaches. My tank company always travelled with an M88 and mechanics. Their job was not the same as a tank crew's, but they were all interdependent. What's new?

    Steve

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Interesting to note that there are those in US AID that are not such a big fan of CERP and its impact on development efforts. Certainly it has disrupted unity of effort in development as an arm of policy.

    I'll be attending an AID conference of the role of Development in COIN next week, and it should be interesting. I'm very familiar with how CERP is employed; and am also a fan of US AID, both as an organization and of the type of committed professionals they attract to their ranks. If anyone has any keen insights, concerns, opinions, etc please feel free to pass along for me to consider as I weigh in on this topic.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Default Academic cloister may help

    Maybe worth trawling the website of the UK Institute of Development Studies, at Sussex University:http://www.ids.ac.uk/ Notably the Security & Conflict part.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Usaid

    USAID appears to be somewhat effective (for a USG organization) in nations that are not experiencing serious conflict, but I haven't seen much success (despite herculean efforts) in hostile areas like Afghanistan and Iraq. I think the failures in Iraq are due to internal corruption and corruption in the U.S. contracting process (primarily the last administration).

    USAID simply lacks capacity to resusitate a corpse, borrowing a phrase from Dayuhan from another post.

    There are several studies that indicate that our aid (not just USAID) prolongs problems and stiffles needed structural changes. Is aid really developmental or is it life support for a system/government/organization that needs to die?

    I would like to see a list of USAID successes that actually mattered? Was it simply a temporary local job program, or did they do something that actually resulted in continued development?

    The same caution I suggested for MBJ, carefully deleniate between development and aid.

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    Default They did well

    Quote Originally Posted by Global Scout View Post
    USAID appears to be somewhat effective (for a USG organization) in nations that are not experiencing serious conflict, but I haven't seen much success (despite herculean efforts) in hostile areas like Afghanistan and Iraq.
    in Viet Nam, Laos and other places before Clinton and Albright destroyed the agency by rolling it into State. The Aid folks in Nam did not engage in combat but they had no qualms getting right in the middle of it to do their thing.

    I saw them operate in half dozen nations and they really were competent. So was the USIA before the same crew fouled them up in one fell swoop in 1998...

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    Default Power Play

    Yep, and I think over time Madalene will go down as one of our worst Secretary's of State. That move was nothing more than an incompetent power play, and beyond that morale in State was rock bottom before Collin Powell stepped in. I think USAID still has great people, and they seem to be coming into their own again, but it will take to build the skilled capacity they need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Global Scout View Post
    USAID simply lacks capacity to resusitate a corpse, borrowing a phrase from Dayuhan from another post.
    Thanks for the credit... but in Afghanistan we didn't even start with a corpse. We tried to create a government from, essentially, nothing. I'm not at all surprised that it's bloody difficult; what surprises me is that anyone expected it to be anything but bloody difficult.

    A lot of people from the military side approach the development issue without realizing that this is a challenge at least as difficult as COIN, likely more so. There's been decades of study, hundreds of billions spent, an extensive leterature, tons of controversy... and nobody, anywhere, has any clear answers or reliable recipes.

    First, three kinds of aid, not to be confused: relief, reconstruction, development.

    Relief is keeping people alive after natural or man made disasters. It's a logistic challenge first and foremost: water, food, toilets, blankets, tents, doctors, medicines. And, please, trucks. I've never met a relief aid manager who ever had enough trucks or fuel. Relief aid is very difficult, but we do it reasonably well, because the goals are clear, immediate, and defined.

    Reconstruction is rebuilding what's broken. Again, we're good at this: build a bridge, fix a road, repair an irrigation system... stuff we know how to do.

    Development is a totally different animal. After all these years, even in the development community there is no clear definition of what it is, let alone how to get there. At the end of the day what it is and how to get there are different in every environment. There have also been legions of well intentioned "development" projects that have made things worse: the potential for unintended adverse consequences is huge.

    [rant]

    My own opinion, after observing it for way too many years, is that there's a fundamental dissonance in our approach to development aid. We treat it as a problem of money and expertise, when in reality the primary obstacles to development are political. Fact of life: real development is almost always going to piss someone off, usually someone powerful. Primitive neo-feudal economies don't exist by accident, they exist because somebody finds them very profitable. Local power brokers in underdeveloped areas don't want rural entrepreneurship. They don't want livelihood opportunities, cottage industries, agricultural modernization. They may say they want these things, if it brings foreign money, but behind the scenes they will try to derail any effort that threatens them. They fight these things because to them real development is an existential threat: their power, prosperity, and ability to avoid being hung from a lamp-post depends on personal control of resources and economic opportunities.

    The bottom line for me is that in places where the political conditions to support development exist, and where development is already happening, we can support and accelerate it. Pouring money into projects in places where these conditions do not exist may be an admirable salve for the Western conscience, but it doesn't accomplish anything.

    [/rant]

    To get back on topic, my advice to a military commander with a bit of money and a desire to start development would be... don't. Focus on relief and reconstruction, where goals are clear and accomplishments evident.

    Trying to go into "development" is a good way to make temporary friends and permanent enemies.

    If it's really, truly, needed, I'd say try to bring in another organization with development expertise, and try to keep their efforts distinct from your effort to provide security. That way when they #@%$ up, less of it flies in your direction. If the security situation is too bad for a development organization to be in the field, it's probably too bad for any meaningful development work as well.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-04-2010 at 02:16 AM.

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    Default Great points

    First, three kinds of aid, not to be confused: relief, reconstruction, development.
    This is helpful for me, and your points about the first two being somewhat clear cut and short term objective focused help me shape my thoughts on this topic, and your points on development merit more discussion.

    We treat it as a problem of money and expertise, when in reality the primary obstacles to development are political. Fact of life: real development is almost always going to piss someone off, usually someone powerful.
    Since we're all being politically correct (factual versus idealistic), I think development would be better partnered with something that looks more like like political operatons than COIN. Before any serious attempt at providing assistance for development, we promote (for example, through political advice to grass roots movements) a political revolution of sorts that sets the conditions for development efforts to work. I'm not necessarily talking about having an underground make bad politicians disappear, as that would go awry very quickly (a true pandora's box), but rather use tools like twitter to create movements to discredit and pressure the status quo leaders to change their behavior or risk undesirable consequences. Also find means to separate the bad politicians from their sources of power (money, security forces, etc.). Obviously rough thoughts, but if you look at what happened in Poland with the Solidarity movement that removed the old system (at least enough of it) to allow economic development to flurish, there may be opportunities in the world to do similiar activities (not so much in Afghanistan or Iraq).

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Global Scout View Post
    Since we're all being politically correct (factual versus idealistic), I think development would be better partnered with something that looks more like like political operatons than COIN. Before any serious attempt at providing assistance for development, we promote (for example, through political advice to grass roots movements) a political revolution of sorts that sets the conditions for development efforts to work. I'm not necessarily talking about having an underground make bad politicians disappear, as that would go awry very quickly (a true pandora's box), but rather use tools like twitter to create movements to discredit and pressure the status quo leaders to change their behavior or risk undesirable consequences. Also find means to separate the bad politicians from their sources of power (money, security forces, etc.). Obviously rough thoughts, but if you look at what happened in Poland with the Solidarity movement that removed the old system (at least enough of it) to allow economic development to flurish, there may be opportunities in the world to do similiar activities (not so much in Afghanistan or Iraq).
    Possible... but I think we tread on very thin ice when we try to promote political change in other countries. When we're caught at it (as we will be) we can actually discredit the very movements we hope to support: many despots are eager to paint reform movements with the "agents of western imperialism" brush.

    We cannot create these movements, and we are likely to step on our dicks if we try. Where they exist we may be able to help them, but we have to be very very careful and very very subtle... and it's usually best if we keep our distance. We do need to make sure we're not helping the other side, or actively assisting them to suppress reform movements, that's utterly counter-productive, even when the reform movements are not necessarily on our side.

    In short... we should not support despots against their own population. We should, to the extent that we can and through multilateral pressure if possible, discourage them from violent repression of reform movements. We should (and must) accept that opposition to reform is likely to come less from central government than from regional power brokers, and that central governments are often unable to control regional power brokers... especially in nominal democracies, where regional power brokers control votes.

    Taking it to the other extreme and jumping into the fight on the side of reform movements... sounds good, but I have doubts. Can get very messy and generate all kinds of unintended consequences.

    If we're looking at political reform as a tool for military leaders in stability ops, I'd say don't expect much. It's a process, it has to be locally initiated and locally led, it takes a long, long time, and its a process that we cannot direct or control without destroying it. It happens, it's vital, and we need to work with it... but it's not a tool that we can pull out of our kit and apply to our purposes.

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