The traditional division of labor between the military and the civilian instruments of national power is blurring. Majors and colonels who have trained to command tank battalions are also tasked with commanding the affairs of a small town or province in Afghanistan or Iraq. Ideally, civilian specialists and reconstruction teams would be the first units into postconflict environments to lead the so-called phase IV, or stability operations in the wake of major conflict.
In reality, however, there are situations in which the military is the only U.S. organization able to operate effectively in such environments due to their enormous budget, personnel base, and independent lift and security capacity. This means we must accept that the military will take the lead in phase IV operations in the short-term. Yet this also means that we must launch a serious effort to build-up civilian capacity for these missions. As articulated by General Anthony Zinni, civilian agencies can and should plug in with their military counterparts in order to provide expertise and a smooth transition to civilian authority once a permissive security environment allows for such a changeover. The State Department and the Defense Department should conduct regular simulation exercises in order to facilitate a smooth transition.
For more information, please see: