USAID, DOD Plan: Preemptive War Prevention

We’ve talked a lot in this space about Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ advocacy of “strengthening [the United States’] capacity to use ‘soft’ power and for better integrating it with ‘hard’ power,” as he put it in his landmark November 2007 speech at Kansas State University. WPR contributor Sam Brannen wrote of the speech at the time that “Secretary Gates may have written the first chapter in the next Quadrennial Defense Review, due in 2009.” Indeed, it’s a good bet that soft power capabilities will be a major focus of the next version of the every-four-years strategy document that is designed to shape the transformation of the Defense Department.

But it appears the Pentagon is already beginning the process of better integrating military hard power with the capabilities of civilian agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Inside the Pentagon reports this week that USAID and DOD have launched a pilot program in five countries around the world to “to enhance and formalize civilian-military cooperation that could prevent crises around the world.”:

USAID has discussed the plan with U.S. Southern Command, U.S.Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command, tentatively selecting acountry that falls under the domain of each, said Dayton Maxwell, anagency official who until recently served as a senior adviser to theJoint Staff’s Global Strategic Affairs’ (J-5) directorate. Followinghis interview this month with Inside the Pentagon, he shifted to another position.

Decliningto name the countries involved, Maxwell said he received “a verypositive reaction” about the plan from the three COCOMs.

USAID issued a new civilian-military cooperation policy in July which had been in the works for more than three years, he added.

According to the Inside the Pentagon report by Fawzia Sheikh, the pilot program focuses on “phase zero” planning by country teams made up of State Department, USAID and military officials. “Phase zero refers to actions that can be taken to prevent a conflict from starting in the first place,” Sheikh writes.

Take advantage of a rare freebie from the top-notch defense trade publication and read the whole thing here.

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