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Key U.S. Security Policy Issues

Coping With Strains on Department of Defense Resources
Defining the Circumstances Under which the U.S. may Intervene
Adressing Difficulties with Command and Control
Improving Headquarters Operations
Encouraging a Constructive Rule for Regional Organizations
Establishing a Basis for Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of Soverign States

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Coping with Strains on Department of Defense Resources

The growing demand for military intervention in the internal conflicts of other nations has raised concerns in Washington that peace operations are placing a heavy burden on some U.S. forces. For example, Marine and Naval units were operating at a high tempo in 1994 in order to meet the demands of various peace operations. In addition, concerns have been raised about budgetary strains and the possible adverse consequences of excessive attention to peace operations on training, morale, and combat force readiness.

Furthermore, peacekeeping requires the development of new skills. Traditional combat training has proved in many cases inappropriate for the current genre of missions. Training forces to exercise restraint and to negotiate, as well as to maintain crowd control and engage hostile forces, is a growing need. New doctrines and techniques are being incorporated in U.S. military training programs to meet this need.

On the other hand, some peace missions do provide opportunities for units performing support functions, such as logistics and medical aid, to hone skills that they will need in the case of a major regional conflict. Still, assuming continued growth in international peace operation demands, decisions will have to be made with respect to priorities, funding, and training needs associated with non-traditional military activities.

U.S. spending on peace operations has soared in recent years. As new crises develop, special funding is needed. Congress initially appropriated $50 million in FY 1994 for refugee relief work in Rwanda, while actual expenditure was substantially higher. An additional $170 million was in the FY 1995 Department of Defense appropriations bill. In the Caribbean, the Cuban and Haitian refugee problems are expected to generate funding needs in the range of $1-3 billion between fiscal years 1994 and 1995.

The U.S. government faces two major funding issues:

For FY 1995, the Administration requested $300 million in DOD appropriations to pay for U.N. assessments. However, Congress refused to approve this request. While the U.S. struggles to catch up on arrears and to secure a major reduction in its percentile contribution to U.N. peace operations, there is little prospect at present--given rising costs associated with existing operations and future contingencies--that either matter will be quickly brought to satisfactory conclusion. Indeed, by the end of 1994, Congress was contemplating a 50 percent reduction in the U.S. share of the $1.6 billion peace operations budget.

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Defining the Circumstances Under Which the U.S. May Intervene

In 1993, President Clinton initiated a wide-ranging review of factors to be considered in supporting U.N. operations, including circumstances under which American forces are to be provided and the issue of command authority over these forces. The extended review resulted in Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25), Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations, signed on May 3, 1994, which provides a policy framework to guide U.S. support for and involvement in U.N. and other multinational peace operations (see chart). Factors to be considered include the following:

The Directive offers as a primary consideration for U.S involvement in peace operations the question of whether "there is a threat to or breach of international peace and security," defined as international aggression, a humanitarian disaster within a violent conflict, the interruption of an established democratic system, or gross violations of human rights within a violent conflict. Additional considerations are:

The Directive has not settled the debate over the circumstances and conditions under which U.S. forces should be committed to peace operations. The Rwanda crisis exposed the complex forces that drive intervention in such crisis situations. Huge refugee flows resulting from a campaign of genocide impelled Washington to deploy logistics personnel on an emergency basis prior to a decision by the National Command Authority concerning the objectives of the mission and the issue of whether the guidelines laid down in PDD-25 had been met.

The ABLE SENTRY II mission in Macedonia could become a model for some future U.S. military involvement in peace operations under U.N. auspices. Authorized by a 1993 Security Council resolution as an extension of UNPROFOR, the Macedonia mission has a special mandate--to maintain a military presence on the Macedonia side of the border with Serbia and Albania and to report "any developments" that could threaten stability or the territorial integrity of Macedonia. A U.S. force of 525 men is deployed along the eastern half of an undemarcated sector, while a Nordic battalion covers the west. Their mission is to provide comfort for a strained Macedonian government, an informal demarcation zone where none currently exists, an indication to regional neighbors that the U.N. seeks to preserve an independent Macedonia, and a symbolic deterrent against Serbian military incursions. Several factors could threaten the existing stable situation, notably political-military upheavals in neighboring Kosovo that generate uncontrolled inflows to Macedonia, political turmoil in Macedonia due to Greece's economic embargo, and the low training level of Serb units in the border sector. If it can be sustained while the U.N. and other organizations seek to develop effective strategies to contain potential upheavals in the southern Balkans, ABLE SENTRY II would provide an enduring standard for comparable missions in the future. The failure of ABLE SENTRY, on the other hand, might well generate widening conflict in the southern Balkans and adjoining regions.

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Addressing Difficulties With Command and Control

The participation of U.S. forces in peace operations has also led to debate within the national security community about whether U.S. troops should serve under the command of foreign officers. PDD-25 notes that while the United States will not place U.S. troops under the "command" of foreign officers, it may cede "operational control" on a case-by-case basis. This means that U.S. forces may serve under a foreign commander--as has indeed been the case in places such as Macedonia and the Sinai--but only on a temporary and tightly circumscribed basis, for the purpose of accomplishing a specific mission.

The issue of unity of command in U.N. and regional organization peace operations has proven difficult to resolve. Washington's reluctance to place its forces under a foreign commander is shared by other nations with regard to their forces. The question of command is less likely to cause difficulties if the purposes of the overall mission are clear and mutually agreed-upon--as when they are directly derived from Security Council resolutions--and when there is adequate coordination among national militaries.

The issue of command and control is most likely to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. When the United States is the lead nation, as in the 1991 Gulf War, it will assume primary responsibility for planning and coordinating operations with military representatives from other nations. In such situations, negotiating skills and appreciation of differing military traditions are crucial. In circumstances where the U.S. is not the leading partner, however, planning and command-and-control arrangements may prove more contentious from the point of view of the U.S. military. That is not to say, however, that the U.S. will always seek to assume the leading role.

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Improving Headquarters Operations

There is general agreement that the U.N. management system for peace operations requires strengthening. Currently, the organization does not have the capacity to direct peace and humanitarian operations in a coordinated fashion. Nor has the U.N. demonstrated that it can provide effective guidance for NATO, WEU, or similar entities. A number of measures have been proposed to improve performance, including:

Such measures will require leadership and willingness to alter traditional bureaucratic roles. This may be difficult; most agency heads are resistant to efforts to redirect their goals and operations. Further, it is not clear how much financial and other types of support U.N. member states regard as appropriate. At present, there is little support in Washington, or in the U.N. membership generally, for the creation of a standing brigade-sized U.N. rapid deployment force. Nor has the Secretary General achieved much success in securing members' agreement to earmark some of their forces for future peace operations.

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Encouraging a Constructive Role for Regional Organizations

An issue of mounting importance is the intention of the Secretary General to delegate responsibility for peace operations to regional organizations under the terms of Chapter VIII of the Charter. He called a meeting of representative regional organization on this subject in August 1994, and is slated to present a paper (and possibly proposals) to the Security Council in January 1995. The intent of the founders of the United Nations was fairly clear with respect to Chapter VIII--regional organizations are to serve as "courts of first instance" for conflict resolution. However, several obstacles stand in the way of the Secretary General's intentions:

Some specialists believe that the Secretary General cannot on his own fully delegate authority to regional organizations, since Chapter VIII makes clear that no enforcement action should be initiated by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council, and that the Council is to be kept informed of peace operations undertaken or contemplated by regional agencies. The force of these provisions, however, is being de facto diluted as a result of the welter of international crises. For example, Russia is already involved in operations in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Moldova, and Georgia under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and hardly appears inclined to provide comprehensive reports on its actions for the approval of the Security Council.

The most likely area for meaningful involvement of regional organizations is at the low end of the scale, that is, preventive diplomacy and small-scale U.N. peacekeeping operations. Nevertheless, the practical limitations of regional organizations remain a major obstacle. In Africa, for example, the OAU has limited trained manpower, equipment, and money at its disposal. Washington is providing modest assistance to the Organization to strengthen its mediation capabilities but, as the Rwanda crisis amply demonstrated, the OAU cannot rapidly mobilize, equip, transport, and supply large numbers of troops for crisis intervention. There has been talk of making equipment available for a brigade-sized force under the terms of the U.S. security assistance program. For the present, however, regional organizations in the less affluent parts of the globe are limited in their capabilities and often dependent on material support from the industrial nations.

A debate is looming on the horizon about whether Washington should accept the emerging reality of a "spheres of influence" approach to peace operations. This would mean, for example, acknowledging a Russian sphere of influence in several of the republics of the former Soviet Union.

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Establishing a Basis for Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of Sovereign States

Over the past several years, the U.N. has expanded the legal basis for military intervention in local crises. Civil wars, the failure of governments to protect populations from large-scale violence, and the collapse of governing institutions have generated humanitarian concerns that cry out for intervention. Prominent examples include the protection of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, the provision of protection and relief to Somalis caught in the anarchy of that country's famine and civil wars, and efforts to reign in contending forces in Liberia and to bring that civil war to a negotiated settlement.

Legal warrant for intervention has been found in Chapter VII of the U.N. charter. U.N. Security Council Resolution 940, which was adopted in July 1994 and authorizes the use of force to restore democracy and order in Haiti, provides a good illustration of this doctrine in action. When authorizing this action under Chapter VII, the Council noted that it was to be regarded as an extraordinary situation. Nevertheless, such situations are multiplying rapidly.

Resolution 940 also authorized a second stage of multilateral action in Haiti, following removal of the dictatorial regime and the reestablishment of the democratically elected president. This called for a follow-on U.N. force charged with sustaining a secure and stable environment; professionalizing the Haitian armed forces and creating a separate police force; and ensuring an environment conducive to the "organization of fair and free legislative elections." The resolution does not specify which states will participate, nor does it bind the restored president to observe all standards associated with participatory democracy. Such nebulous mandates raise a number of issues:

Washington confronts three vexing challenges when faced with Haiti-type intervention situations. The first relates to consistency. In late 1994, there were eighteen civil wars in progress, all with numerous civilian casualties and little immediate prospect of conclusion through a negotiated settlement. It does not seem likely that either the international community or the U.S. will intervene in all these conflicts. What are to be the criteria for selecting where to intervene?

A second problem is the likelihood that armed intervention will be viewed by one or more of the contending parties as lacking legitimacy or prejudicial to their interests--as in Somalia and Bosnia. In due course, the intervening forces become targets for local militias. Time and casualties frequently erode the will to continue such a U.N. mission.

Finally, there are no quick fixes for the overwhelming majority of internal conflicts. Once armed intervention occurs, the challenge becomes one of avoiding interminable entanglement in the conflict, protecting peacekeeping forces, and ensuring a modicum of stability and order. The latter requirement, however, may lead to the temptation for intervening powers to try their hand at institution-building, particularly when dealing with failed states--a process often dubbed "mission creep."

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