Command Arrangements for Peace Operations


Military forces are blunt instruments. Peace operations involve subtle missions. This fundamental mismatch between the classic functions of military force and those required for successful peace operations makes careful design of command arrangements an essential step if effectiveness is to be achieved.

This paper has reviewed (a) the unique demands and requirements for successful command arrangements in peace operations, (b) a range of US experience in recent coalition warfare and peace operations, (c)the state-of-the-art knowledge of alternative approaches to command arrangements, and (d) the approaches necessary to assess alternative command arrangements. A variety of important, cross-cutting conclusions emerge from these analyses.

Guidelines for Future Peace Operations

At the most general level, a few key guidelines emerge. First, military plans and operations need to be segregated from, but informed by, the other activities associated with the peace operations - political activities, humanitarian activities, etc. Hence, the rich set of command arrangements needed are in addition to the military C2 system required.

Second, the use of military force needs to be controlled at the adaptive level - that is, the set of actions to be taken needs to be thought through and coordinated (politically as well as militarily) in the form of contingency plans to be triggered by recognizable actions or patterns of action. While this implies considerable C2 capacity and prior planning, it is the only realistic way to take timely military actions in peace operations. Whenever possible, standards for equipment and doctrine should be created to facilitate "real time" interactions.

Third, the command arrangements must be connected effectively to the military C2, which means functional communications systems, opportunities for exchange of information, and exchanges of liaison personnel. Wherever possible, open meetings of the broad set of entities associated with the peace operation should be encouraged. The value of information and the importance of exchanging it need to be stressed when dealing with NGOs and PVOs.

Fourth, time-tested techniques and approaches should be used to simplify the command arrangements in coalition operations. Assignment of missions based on capability, assignment of separate physical space to different commands, use of coordination teams, and exchange of liaison officers should be coupled with the creation of networks that permit informal communications among the coalition members and those working with them. Mission-type orders will be necessary because of the diverse nature of the forces involved and the inherent decentralization of their tactical organization.

Fifth, the principles of peace operations are fundamentally different from those of war-fighting. They include:

Balance among these principles is needed at all levels (strategic, operational, and tactical) and in all types of command arrangements(political as well as military, coordinated as well as hierarchical, etc.).

Sixth, adequate capacity needs to be created and functions separated so that each level of command has a clear role and the necessary personnel, experience, linkages, information, and information-handling capacity to succeed. Where needed, this implies communications systems, computers, command transportation, translators, and liaison personnel.

Seventh, because of the inherently decentralized, slow, and reactive command arrangements in coalition peace operations, commanders must use mission-oriented directives, and military command structures should limit the number of subordinate organizations reporting to key commanders. Prior investments are needed to facilitate these inter-actions, including:

Failure to deal with these issues before deploying forces greatly increases the risks of mission failure and unnecessary casualties among peace forces and those they are trying to protect.

Eighth, except when US military presence is considered essential for symbolic reasons (e.g. Golan Heights or Macedonia), US forces are far better employed in peace enforcement and peace imposition missions than peacekeeping. US forces are trained for combat and must be retrained for any peace operation. They are best used where the possibility of their employing overwhelming force is realistic. Moreover, the powerful symbolism associated with the US in general and the US military in particular often makes it difficult for parties to a conflict to perceive US forces as impartial. Finally, US policy and US force activities are subject to micro-analysis in the media, which can complicate peacekeeping and sometimes requires constructive ambiguity and selective "non-perceptions."

Finally, valid and reliable assessment of command arrangements is essential if they are to be improved. This means taking the time and trouble to apply existing methodology and measurement systems both to the past experience with peace operations and to the most realistic set of war games, laboratory experiments, simulations, and exercises available. Measurement needs to be made not only at the level of system performance and information attributes, but also at the higher-order levels of indicators of decision process quality and overall performance. Key dimensions such as value added, life-cycle costs, and system adaptability must be assessed across a range of relevant scenarios.

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