InterAgency Essay 11-01, April 2011
by Rick Swain
In 2010, at a conference held by the Cornwallis Group, an international organization interested in peace operations and whole-of-government approaches, Dr. Cynthia Irmer, Senior Conflict Prevention Officer for the Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/CRS), described the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF), as a means of assisting participants in an interagency process “in jointly examining a complex, adaptive system from a complex, non- linear, systems perspective.” The State Department’s on-line handbook describes ICAF as “a tool that enables a team comprised of a variety of U.S. government agency representatives (interagency) to assess conflict situations systematically and collaboratively and prepare for interagency planning for conflict prevention, mitigation and stabilization.” Dr. Irmer was followed by Colonel Ellen L. Haring, a U.S. Army Civil Affairs officer. Colonel Haring criticized current joint doctrine and offered that the ICAF was a tool that, “if used properly by military planners, will significantly improve operational design and center of gravity identification and help the military community conduct operations that will lead to durable and sustainable peace.”
This paper argues that USAID and military problem-solving approaches are converging, and broadly understood techniques of design offer the best synthesis for achieving unity of effort in whole-of-government operations.
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