All of us in PSYOP are painfully aware of the fact that many of our assignments have been and are likely to be in future support of reconstructing the civilian infrastructure of nations that have suffered conflict or national disaster. We recognize that if these operations are to be successful they need civilian expertise. Often the vacuum of available and needed talent is filled by our brothers and sisters in Civil Affairs. However, it’s clear that the military is not the optimal resource for this mission.
Senator Richard Lugar (R) Indiana and Secretary of State Condolezza Rice have proposed the creation of a Civilian Reconstruction Reserve. While you can check out the details in 17 December’s Washington Post, the essence of their proposal is to organize a volunteer civilian force that can be rapidly deployed to address these tasks which they acknowledge in the quote below:
“But the truth is, no diplomatic service in the world has within its ranks all the experts or expertise needed for this kind of work. As a result, from Somalia and Haiti to Bosnia and Kosovo, and now to Afghanistan and Iraq, our government has increasingly depended on our men and women in uniform to perform civilian responsibilities. The military has filled this void admirably, but it is a task that others can and should take up. The primary responsibility for post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction should not fall to our fighting men and women but to volunteer, civilian experts.”
The concept is also supported by President Bush and by a bipartisan majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Lugar has been a long time observer of soft power and how it should be applied and with the President, DoD and DoS in favor you it will be interesting to see if the idea moves beyond the concept phase.
What’s the point of this post for the PSYOP community?
The point is we need to be politically aware and conscious, if you’re from Indiana, write the good Senator and offer your views. Don’t be concerned that he won’t read it, a staffer will and constituent voices are the currency of Congress.
I’d like to hear about your experiences with ‘reconstruction’ and your thoughts on who and how to best accomplish these types of missions.