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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It's a big job...

...but someone has to do it.

And according to the Defense Science Board, the State Department needs to play a much larger role in nation-building. The DSB also criticizes the Pentagon's efforts to date, in Iraq and elsewhere. From today's Boston Globe (sorry for the length of the excerpt, but it's great to be reading a very good paper on a daily basis):
'The Department of State will need substantially more resources, both people and funds, to fulfill its proper role in stabilization and reconstruction operations," the report states, saying that State Department diplomats can help rebuild civic institutions and win over local populations in ways the military cannot.

It also says nation-building efforts depend upon a ''stronger partnership and working relationship" between Defense and State, which have had a rocky interaction while headed by Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

The study, prepared under the aegis of scores of military and foreign policy specialists, concludes that US forces remain ill-prepared to take on nation-building efforts despite the fact that such missions -- both large and small -- have been undertaken at least once every 18 to 24 months since the end of the Cold War. Each of the six missions, according to the report, was ''more ambitious than the last."

Instead of treating postwar rebuilding as a key tenet of defense planning, the Defense Department does not regard it as a core mission, according to the 170-page report.

The Defense Department ''has not yet embraced stabilization and reconstruction operations as an explicit mission with same seriousness as combat operations," according to the study. ''This mind-set must be changed."

...The US government ''needs a strong and adequately resourced Department of State to lead nonmilitary aspects of stabilization and reconstruction and partner with the Defense Department to plan and execute these operations," the report says. This ''will require extraordinarily close working relationships to successfully accomplish these crucial tasks -- relationships that do not currently exist."

The report urges passage of the so-called Lugar-Biden bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana and Democratic Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. The bill calls for establishing a new office in the State Department to coordinate nation-building efforts, a civilian Readiness Response Corps, and a $100 million contingency fund to provide a quicker response in the aftermath of future conflicts.
The report implicitly critizes the Bush administration for failing to develop adequate advance plans for the mission in post-war Iraq. It also says the US should have had a LOT more troops in Iraq: 20 occupation troops for every 1000 people. In Iraq, that would have meant 500,000 troops rather than 150,000.

In the future, DSB says that the Pentagon will have to train soldiers as much for nation-building as for combat.

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