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US Army stability operations manual: Govt approach to security planning

By John Amoda
A colleague of mine who taught in South Africa informed me that President Nelson Mandela had regular meetings with the heads of departments of political science. Mandela’s practice would, therefore, appear as a validation of Colonel Sir William F. Butler’s recollection of the following opinion of Charles Gordon:

“It is needless to say that Charles Gordon held a totally different view of the soldier’s proper sphere of action and with him the building part of the soldier’s profession was far more important than the breaking part…

The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards” (Chapter I FM 3- 07 Pp. 1-i)

This quote is an effective way of bringing to the table of the Nigerian security discourse: “The US Army Stability Operations Field Manual N0 3-07″, the 2009 University of Michigan Press edition. It is an unrestricted publication released for dissemination to the constituencies with intellectual interest in how the United States Army is preparing for its international commitments.

In the foreword to the University of Michigan Press edition, Michele Flournoy and Shawn Brimley described as follows in broad terms the three components of the US Army’s international security mission:

“Ensuring that the world’s oceans, cyberspace, common airspace, and orbital space remain relatively free and open for travel, commerce, and communication should constitute core missions for America’s military, and those missions are fundamental to the maintenance of US interests.

America’s military forces are likely to be utilized for two other core missions directly countering those state or non-state actors who attack US interests at home and abroad: and engaging in pre- or post-conflict stability operation to prevent or redress state failure and the resulting adverse regional and global consequences.

Most of these tasks will be cross-cutting and joint by nature, and all agencies of government need to be prepared to act in support of national objectives.

Placed within America’s broader strategic context, stability operations clearly constitute an extremely important pillar of a likely 21st century national security agenda, and ensuring that the US military is able to perform these operations effectively will remain a central task of uniformed and civilian defense leaders”.

The above description of US Army’s 21st century security agenda preparation clearly shows that the US Government has evolved a happy balanced team of its fighting and thinking men who together can ensure that security agenda setting remain “a central task of the uniformed and civilian defense leaders”.

A principal aim of my Tuesday Column is to contribute to the development of the capability of Nigerian political leadership to see the importance of building an integrated team of uniformed and civilian leaders whose central task is to set the nation’s security agenda.

A leaf can be borrowed from the work that has produced this US Army Field Manual N0 3- 07. This manual is only possible because the US Army itself is led by a team of thinking fighting men and fighting thinking men. It is noteworthy how many civilians were brought into their maturity within the ranks of the US Armed Forces, prior to branching out to develop civilian careers.

How to accomplish this blend of intellect and soldiering in Nigeria is a daunting task given the institutional gulf between government and society in the first place; and given the consequent differentiation of institutions based on professional specialisation.

Thinking and fighting have been assigned as a function of office to office holders, whether so prepared before for the office.

The difficulties arising therefore from this bureaucratisation of responsibility should be partially addressed by the educational institutions. But even this remedial avenue is also constrained by the same phenomenon of bureaucratization.

The education that Nigeria’s fighting and security leaders receive from the universities is when not “text-bookish” often not based on lessons learnt from participant involvement in security operations.

The costs of this bureaucratic formalisation of roles and assignment of tasks in the Nigerian setting are on public display in the present security setting. The Saturday Vanguard July 14, 2012 carries the comment of the Attorney General of the Federation:

“The Federal Government, yesterday expressed its concern over the increasing spate of violence across the country, saying it is “working hard to stem the gradual descent into anarchy by diligently prosecuting all those indicted for civil disturbances to serve as deterrence”.

The story may be an overly parsimonious summary of what the AGF said. However, what is summarised suggest that the measure to stem this sliding into anarchy is to make the task that of the Nigeria Police. What analysis of the security condition of Nigeria has led to this idea? The F.M 3 – 07 shows such an answer could be derived within the framework of stability operations.

“FM 3 -07 stability operations reflects a long journey by the American Military and a series of hard operational lessons learned by the post-Cold War generation. It underscores recognition that in addition to fighting and winning our national battles, the military will continue to be called on to bring peace and order to societies under stress.

As doctrine, FM 3- 07 fills a profound intellectual void by describing the complex 21st century landscape and articulating the military’s unique role in bringing order to chaos” (Ibid Pp. XV).

The issue of who does what effectively is described in the above, especially in the strategic task of “bringing order to chaos”. Bringing order to chaos is pre and post- conflict peace building task premised on fighting and winning our national battles.

The US Army fought and lost the Vietnam War and as a result it was not in a position as part of its post-conflict peace-building to bring “order to chaos in post-war Vietnam”.

The Libyan on the tail of the US and NATO aerial bombing of Ghaddafi’s government toppled the Ghaddafi regime. Whether the anti-Libyan Ghaddafi forces can bring order to chaos in Libya is the challenging question!


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.