Changes Needed in Way the United States Conducts Military Interventions

In preparing for possible future military interventions, the United States needs to shift substantial resources to the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and military-civilian efforts must be integrated from top to bottom, according to a new report issued today by a group of veteran government and private-sector leaders.

The report also recommends delegating spending authority to the field level and requiring that civilians and military officers gain extensive cross-agency experience in one another’s disciplines.

The report was developed to provide a set of national security recommendations to the incoming presidential administration and new Congress. The effort was led by the RAND Corporation and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

“These recommendations offer practical guidelines for the nation’s next administration to deal effectively with the kinds of U.S. military interventions — and their aftermath — that have become prevalent,” said Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, the report’s lead author and a senior advisor at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Hunter said the report also serves as a blueprint for implementing proposals made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to have “robust civilian capabilities available [that] could make it less likely that military force will have to be used in the first place.”

The report, “Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence: Lessons Learned and Best Practices,” was prepared by a high-level panel of 67 U.S. and European senior practitioners from both civilian and military posts. The report draws lessons both for the U.S. government and NATO from experience in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sponsors say the panel’s recommendations can be implemented without changing the National Security Act and without major legislation — except to increase funding for non-military national security activities. Recommendations are meant to be practical and able to be implemented rapidly by an administration and Congress that will take office in January 2009.

Some of the Report’s key conclusions include:

* The United States success in interventions abroad, notably counterinsurgencies and counterterrorism, requires more direct coordination and integration of military and non-military efforts, activities, agencies, and personnel than ever before. Arms-length relationships between key departments like the Defense Department and State Department are no longer acceptable.
* A major increase is needed in U.S. resources for non-military activities — where the ratio between military and non-military national security spending is now 17 to 1. This should include adding at least 6,600 Foreign Service officers for the State Department, 2000 for USAID, and recreating a separate “United States Information Agency-like” agency.
* Building success must begin with career-wide training and education in modern techniques of military and non-military activities. There needs to be a reorganization of the civilian agencies to promote cross-agency, career-enhancing experience for military and non-military personnel, similar to the practice adopted by the military services under the Goldwater-Nichols Act passed in 1986.
* Training in foreign cultures, history, and languages must be radically enhanced for both military and civilian personnel. Tours in conflict zones need to be extended for key personnel engaged in day-to-day relations with local officials and populations. The military need to enhance long-term relationships with local counterparts.
* Both long-term and short-term planning for interventions must be systematic and centered at the National Security Council level; planning must involve all relevant U.S. government agencies, plus the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
* As much military-civilian coordination as possible must be delegated to the operational level. This must include authority for U.S. ambassadors and military commanders to move money flexibly across tasks and agencies.
* Responsibility for tasks should be assigned to those U.S. agencies and personnel — military or civilian — best able to carry them out. U.S. personnel in the field must stop “stove-piping” to their separate agencies in Washington. Departments like Agriculture, Justice, HHS, and Education must deploy personnel to the field. More money and effort need to be put into imaginative techniques like provincial reconstruction teams.
* Personnel deployed by the United States must build international partnerships with NATO, the European Union and the UN. Barriers to cooperation between NATO and the EU also must be broken down. Allied command transformation should be given a broad mandate to help make this happen.
* Presidential leadership is key; Congress must also play its part, including the delegation of more flexible funding authority to the field. The Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office need to provide integrated “national security budgets” to guide policymakers. Congress needs a joint “national security committee” to advise on integrated policies.

In addition to Hunter, other co-chairmen of the effort were Edward Gnehm, former U.S. ambassador to Jordon and now with George Washington University, and retired Gen. George Joulwan, former supreme allied commander Europe and commander-in-chief, U.S. Southern Command. Christopher Chivvis of RAND was project rapporteur. The report is available at

The report was prepared by the RAND National Security Research Division, which conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combat Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps and the U.S. intelligence community.

Substack subscription form sign up
The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

Comments are closed.