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  1. #1
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    Default Chaplains as Liaisons with Religious Leaders: Lessons From Iraq and Afghanistan

    Just published, by USIP: Chaplains as Liaisons with Religious Leaders: Lessons From Iraq and Afghanistan
    In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in countless other hotspots around the world, religion has been a major factor in matters of war and peace. Since religion often plays a significant role in conflicts, it also needs to be one of the factors addressed in mediating conflicts. Yet, because the United States separates religion from political matters to a greater degree than many other areas of the world, Americans frequently have difficulty understanding the crucial role religion can play in conflict transformation.

    As this study demonstrates, military chaplains, as clergy and officers, occupy a unique space that blends a secular status and a religious one, making them well suited to serve as intermediaries between military and religious leaders in areas of conflict and postconflict stabilization. While chaplains are not positioned to take on such major conflict mediation tasks as healing historic wounds in ethnic and sectarian conflict, they are positioned to communicate with religious leaders in discrete areas of conflict and contribute toward improved dialogue, trust, coordination, problem solving, and localized violence reduction. By drawing on the experiences of fourteen chaplains who had substantial interaction with religious leaders in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, or who supervised other chaplains involved in such activities, the author provides an exploratory study of the important mediating role chaplains can play in overseas military operations.

    After briefly examining the military guidelines that provide the basis for chaplains to act as liaisons with religious leaders, the author examines the chaplain’s dual standing as a clergyperson and a military officer and the boundaries of the chaplain’s potential role as liaison. Specifically, the author unequivocally states that the primary mediating focus of chaplains should be on establishing communications and building relationships with local religious leaders on the ground—not on attempting to negotiate the resolution of broad historical problems. In harvesting the accounts of the fourteen chaplains whom he interviewed, the author next offers key peacebuilding principles and lessons that are informed by a sound reading of conflict resolution literature. For example, he finds that all chaplain outreach efforts must be balanced with security concerns to ensure not just the chaplains’ safety but also that of the local religious leaders with whom they meet. Further, he finds that chaplains who wish to serve in such a manner must have a willingness and ability to interact with religious leaders of other faiths and must not be theologically and personally inclined to view those of other faiths as enemies. Ultimately, the accounts he offers are meant to provide real-world examples of successful civil-military relations and to provide crucial guidance for chaplains to follow when serving as liaisons between the military and local religious leaders in overseas conflict zones.

    While the primary role of military chaplains is to minister to the troops, as this study powerfully illustrates, chaplains can do much to not only mediate conflict on the ground but also help win the hearts and minds of local populations in support of U.S. combat and postconflict stability operations throughout the world.

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    I haven't read more than the excerpt above, but I think it is a good idea.

    My dad is a bishop and from what I've heard and witnessed of/on many trips, that can open doors. Also, being a priest not only serves as a diplomatic authority that people will look to and see as our "front people" (bad wording, and whether or not they are can be discussed, but from an alien perspective) and who can show our side of the story of a very important part of their lives. It may, too, grant a way of connecting closely with the people, and that they see that coming from a higher level of society. It gives credence to good nature. (unless they believe you are satan...)

    Specifically thinking of Zimbabwe right now, although the situation should be similar in some other places: it's harder to twist statements of a priest. It's harder to touch him without angering the people. And people may tend to misinterpret positively rather than negatively.

    Just a few immediate thoughts...
    Martin

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    Default Military Professionalism in the Chaplain Corps

    I read the piece, and from the limited exposure I have to the Navy Chaplain Corps regarding military training and education, I think that the tone here may be too optimistic.

    To function in this unique role as a liaison for religious issues in the culture confronted in an operating environment, it seems to me that much education would be necessary. This would be an endeavor in which a well intended person could easily damage a force's access and the perception of that force in its operating area. I expect that there are exceptional individuals who would find the role within their capability. For instance, I've known a few chaplains who were serving line officers prior to becoming chaplains, and a subset of them may have the knowledge and perspective of the operating requirements for the force, the diverse cultural sensitivities in a particular area, and the role they can play. However, institutional solutions don't successfully leverage the exceptional individual. There are very real current issues confronting employment of chaplains that don't appear to be approching resolution without seeking this massive expansion of capability at an individual level.

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    Here's a rarity for those with AKO access - an interesting, substantive discussion on AKO:

    Religious Support in COIN Operations

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks. Interesting discussion.

    Particularly so as it was started by an NCO and has more Chap asst input than Chap input.

    Aloo interesting that the "save the Corps" statement appears...

    Sigh.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    This issue has been a continuing issue of debate in the Chaplain Corps and between it and the rest of the Army. You can find some on it at CALL.

    Tom

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    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    Default Short History of Religious Leader Engagements in Operation Iraqi Freedom PDF

    Its been a while since this thread was active, but since then I was asked to compile a Short History of Religious Leader Engagements in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The FOUO version is here (AKO/DKO password required.

    The open source version is being published in the Old Crows Association's IO Journal and the FOUO is published on the Center for Army Lessons Learned website. I'll add the link when it becomes available.

    John
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-24-2010 at 07:04 PM.
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi John,

    Thanks for posting the links it's appreciated!

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    Were you able to open it?
    Let me know - OK?
    jp
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG Proctor View Post
    Were you able to open it?
    Let me know - OK?
    jp
    No ako access, John . I'll have to wait wait for the IO Journal version to come out.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default It's alive....

    Hi John, hope all is well in the land of the morning sun
    Hacksaw
    Say hello to my 2 x 4

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