On August 13, panelists from various agencies and organizations met at the Stimson Center to discuss possible reform for future post-conflict situations. The panelists included Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Stimson Center; Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; James Schear, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations; and Leanne Smith, Chief of the United Nations Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit. Among the topics discussed were ways to improve transitional and reconstruction efforts in post-conflict countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Mali.
During the panel discussion, Bowen suggested establishing a U.S. Office for Contingency Operations (USOCO) that would prevent fraud, waste, and lack of coordination in future conflicts. In his remarks, Bowen stressed the importance of planning, stating “Serendipity is not a strategy.” Bowen also cited the need for a leading agency and the stove-piped nature of the U.S. agencies currently involved in post-conflict reconstruction efforts, saying “There are five different offices in five different stove-piped agencies. Yet there is no one bringing this together.”
While Schear agreed that the proposed USOCO would “relieve pressure” on agencies involved in post-conflict situations, he described himself as a “sympathetic skeptic” in terms of Bowen’s proposal. Schear discussed his hesitation for fully supporting USOCO, stating that such an office may make operations more complex, rather than less.
Other issues addressed by the panel included lessons learned from past peacekeeping missions, contingency planning, and exit strategies.
For more information about the Stimson Center’s panel discussion, please follow the links below.
Experts Disagree on How to Prevent Fraud in Post-War Reconstruction Efforts, The Washington Free Beacon
Transitions Between War and Peace, C-SPAN
Report Identifies Lessons Learned for Stability, Reconstruction Operations, Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation