Learning from Darfur: Building a Net-Capable African Force to Stop Mass Killing

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AUTHOR:
David C. Gompert, Courtney Richardson, Richard L. Kugler, and Clifford H. Bernath

SUMMARY:
The international community lacks a standing combat force to conduct decisive, forcible humanitarian interventions in such situations. Such a force must be capable of quickly reaching and establishing itself in a killing area with sufficient information and capability to stop the blood-letting and create an environment conducive to traditional peacekeeping, stabilization, and reconstruction. While the United States and several other Western nations have such capabilities, Darfur has shown once again that they lack sufficient incentive to intervene decisively—which, in any case, most Africans would not prefer. At the same time, although a number of African nations have the will to stop the killing, they lack the combat capabilities, especially for collective action.
The purpose of this report is to explore one particularly promising model of a combat force to intervene in Africa to stop mass killings and other atrocities. Its conclusion is that networking concepts and technologies, which proved effective in defeating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq can be applied by Africans with intensive external help to field a capability for forcible humanitarian intervention. This study explores (a) what capabilities are needed to stop killing in situations like Rwanda and Darfur; (b) whether selective African forces have the potential to become “net-capable”; and (c) what external support would be needed to this end. To be clear, although the study uses Darfur as an example, we are not advocating deployment of net-capable African force to Darfur because no such capability currently exists, and it could not be created in time to stop today’s killings.