On June 17, the American Security Project in conjunction with Development Transformations hosted “The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan,” a panel discussion addressing the challenges faced during U.S. stability operations. Panelists included Nick Lockwood, Development Transformation’s Director of International Operations and ASP adjunct fellow; Eythan Sontag of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO); Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney III, USMC (Ret.) and President of Inside Solutions LLC.; Howard Clark, former Marine, intelligence officer at Homeland Security, and author; and moderator BGen. Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.) and ASP CEO.
Lockwood began the discussion by examining how various U.S. agencies define stability, and noted that none of the agencies’ definitions correctly captured “stability” as each agency had a separate focus. Sontag went on to outline recent U.S. policy carried out by the CSO, which focuses on breaking cycles of violence in relatively short spans of time. Sontag spoke about CSO’s focus on planning, and stressed that similar focus would be beneficial when creatingrapidly deployable field teams.
Lt. Gen. Kearney likened Afghanistan to Vietnam, and admitted that “we really don’t have a national strategy to address this case,” and that officials had crafted no coherent campaign plan for Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009. While Kearney emphasized the growth of interagency cooperation, he admits that planning is still lacking.
Clark spoke about the importance of generating local resistance to extremism, and highlighted four key problems in existing stability operation strategies: 1) western presence alone causes instability and motivates extremism; 2) money from U.S. contracts ends up in Taliban hands and fuels perceptions of corruption; 3) foreign agencies cannot truly understand what local stability means; and 4) stability has never been a proven solution to preventing extremism, as terrorists emerge from both stable and unstable environments.
Panel members also discussed the future of stability operations, with Kearney emphasizing the importance of “planning together.”
For more information about “The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan,” please follow the link below.
Event Recap – The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan, American Security Project