Civilian Surge: Key to Complex Operations

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Hans Binnendijk and Patrick M. Cronin

The United States today manifestly lacks adequate civilian capacity to conduct complex operations—those operations that require close civil-military planning and cooperation in the field. Examples of complex operations abound and include operations for stabilization and reconstruction, humanitarian and disaster relief, and irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. Troubled operations in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans underscore that point. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates both focused attention on this need and transferred defense dollars into civilian programs. The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review dedicated a chapter to “building partner capacity.” At least two dozen recent studies document aspects of the civilian capacity problem and recommend remedies. Various directives and statutes have been issued in the past few years that begin to provide partial solutions. And yet there has been no comprehensive review of all elements of this national need. This book is intended to fill that gap. Its main conclusion is that current efforts to build a civilian response capacity for complex operations are unfinished and that the Obama administration needs to dedicate additional attention and resources to complete the task.