Friday, October 28, 2005

Mission Focused

The US military is often pilloried for its desire to focus on warfighting and not get involved too much in other civilian-oriented missions.

Well, this is hardly an attiude unique to the US military. In discussing the failure of NGOs to adapt to doing things that would help in Pakistan in response to the earthquake, Strategypage notes that the UN called a conference to get them working for the overall objective.:

Unfortunately, most relief groups tend to focus on very narrow problems; so, for example, an NGO or government-sponsored relief agency that’s “mandated” to provide pre-natal care to women in remote regions is usually unwilling to use its resources to help anyone with different problems.

It is not surprising that a group that trains and equips for providing clean water may balk at delivering tents. Nor is it surprising that the US military prefers to concentrate on killing people and breaking things (the ones needing killing, of course--and their things broken).

And I do stand with the military in resisting non-military priorities for the military.

Send troops in emergencies to help fight forest fires? Sure. But don't distract from military training to prepare for the mission.

Nation-building? When it is in our national interest, absolutely. And when our military isn't engaged in war, we can even do optional missions without harming our military. But don't ever create forces designed just for humanitarian missions that would be outclassed in war. If we want peacekeepers, don't create a dedicated peacekeepingor constabulary corp. Add Military Police that can do wartime and peacekeeping missions.

Do humanitarian missions? Of course. But again, it should be something they can do because of their military training and not instead of military training. And for sure don't make our military the lead agency for domestic hurrican relief.

Too many countries have problems with militaries that see a large civilian role. I do not want that to happen here. That would harm our democracy and cripple our military.

But remember, too, that the US military will do the things it is ordered to do without a big conference to remind them of the need for flexibility.