Nov 012012

Stability Operations Magazine
Volume 8, Number 3- November-December, 2012

Mali arrests alleged Al-Qaeda informants.

Islamic jihadists affiliated with AQIM, the Al-Qaeda franchise in North Africa and the Sahel region, are in control of northern Mali. Their intention is to spread their control to the rest of Mali and then on to neighboring Mauritania and Niger. Everyone agrees on what needs to be done.  There must be a military intervention to defeat the insurgents, known as Ansar Dine, who control the key towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuctu. Negotiations are neither possible nor desirable.

Nov 012012

Stability Operations Magazine
Volume 8, Number 3- November-December, 2012

Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

Although the Stability Operations Industry is best known for the services it provides in support of international operations in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, the DR Congo and East Timor, our industry provides invaluable services for disaster relief operations as well.  The Haiti earthquake, tsunami in Japan, floods in Pakistan, and – most recently – Hurricane Sandy in the United States.

Many people would be amazed at the number of services and the range of capability the private sector has available to address disasters.  Generators, heavy construction equipment, modular housing, water purification services – a million and one services that are as useful addressing domestic catastrophes as they are serving war refugees and supporting peacekeeping operations around the world.

Sep 012012

Stability Operations magazine
Volume 8, Number 2- September- October, 2012

USAID is a governmental giant in the international development community and it is served by a number of ISOA member organizations, both directly and indirectly.  USAID programs address the long-term problems necessary to truly bring conflicts to an end in the stability operations in which our industry focuses.  The agency has a remarkably difficult mission, even in more benign environments, and yet dollar for dollar no U.S. agency receives the level of oversight, criticism and sometimes downright hostility from policy makers and the pundit community.  Too often, USAID’s impressive accomplishments are ignored by media and analysts, yet the agency has quietly achieved some astonishing successes over the years.  These successes are reflective of the agency’s staff who boast remarkable talents and the most diverse backgrounds of any agency in the federal government.  Which is why it is particularly troubling that parts of their current policy, USAID FORWARD – based on the premise of providing aid directly to local governments to implement their projects – could prove so detrimental to USAID’s future.

Sep 012012

Stability Operations magazine
Volume 8, Number 2- September-October, 2012

South Sudan celebrates first anniversary.

The independent Republic of South Sudan has just had its first birthday.  Instead of celebration, what we are hearing now from Monday morning quarterbacks is a lot of whining.  South Sudan was totally unprepared for independence, they argue. So, all of the lobbying during the past few years in favor of splitting Sudan into two separate countries was a mistake. In South Sudan, we are observing a new country that was born a failed state. Those who brought this about should be ashamed of themselves.

It is true that South Sudan has had the least preparation for independence of any previously colonized nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which received very little preparation from Belgium in terms of human resources, inherited a strong infrastructure, productive export agriculture and huge mineral resources under exploitation. South Sudan had neither trained managers nor infrastructure, nor very much investment. The nation is literally starting at zero.

Jul 012012

Stability Operations Magazine
Volume 8, Number 1- July-August, 2012

Congolese Army

THE far eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, have been suffering from various forms of sustained armed violence since the first military incursions from Uganda and Rwanda in 1996.  The catastrophic human impact of these sixteen years of lawlessness, pillage and attacks on civilians has been described in great detail by different organizations, including the seminal work by the International Committee on Migration.

Jul 012012

Stability Operations Magazine
Volume 8, Number 1- July-August, 2012

AMISOM troop in Mogadishu, Somalia

BY most accounts, the African Union efforts in Mogadishu, Somalia are successfully stabilizing the city and region, and doing so at a fraction of the cost were it a typical international effort– especially a Western-led operation, such as those conducted by NATO.  Although not without rough moments, particularly in the early days, the mission is breaking new ground and providing a glimpse of the future conduct of peace operations by the international community: militaries from less developed states complemented by robust, specialized private sector services.

May 012012

Journal of International Peace Operations
Volume 7, Number 6 – May-June, 2012

U.S. Congress

Translating Policy Initiatives in to Successful Compliance

THE U.S. Congress’s new found interest in addressing the problem of labor trafficking is certainly welcome, given that the issue has long plagued U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Although hardly a new problem by any means, the issue may have been lost in the midst of so many other more immediate mission-related crises.  Some well thought-out laws and regulations already on the books have been under-enforced for years by the governmental entities running the missions.  Nevertheless, in the current enthusiasm to address labor trafficking, we should always keep in mind that international employees are gaining opportunities for well-paying jobs and careers, otherwise beyond their reach.  More to the point, they bring enormous efficiencies, skills and capabilities to stability operations around the world – resources that we should not hamstring.
Mar 012012

Journal of International Peace Operations
Volume 7, Number 5 – March-April, 2012

IED explosion in Balkh Province, Afghanistan.

Heavy burden falls on the Stability Operations Industry

PREDICTING the future is tricky, but the policy community has no shortage of those willing to share their dire perspectives on upcoming stability operations.  It is always safer to warn of failure, collapse and disaster, and only a few brave souls predict a rosy future of honored peace agreements, declining violence, or a fall in the numbers of international missions.  If the horrible events forecasted come to pass, the pundits look like geniuses; if they are wrong and things go well, no one calls them on their error.
Unfortunately, in the near future the predictors of doom may actually get more right than wrong.  All too many volatile places – some more obvious than others – could deteriorate quickly over the next few months.
Afghanistan may be closer to the brink than previously assumed.  Setting aside the occasional hyper-violent disturbance such as that after the Koran-burning incident, NATO members have been withdrawing or advancing their departures at an alarming rate, leaving an increasingly complex and difficult mission.  The United States has hinted at a more rapid pace of withdrawal as well after the death of Osama bin Laden which ended much of the support for Afghanistan operations in the U.S. Congress.  While real, substantive successes in reconstruction and development have been achieved, an accelerated withdrawal could embolden the Taliban and create even more violence and humanitarian displacement.
Nov 012011

Journal of International Peace Operations
Volume 7, Number 3 – November-December, 2011

I think we get the message on how Libyans feel about Qadaffi

WHO isn’t pleased that Qadaffi’s regime in Libya is no more? But be careful what you wish for: A number of governments in sub-Saharan Africa may have mixed feelings about Libya’s overwhelmingly popular participation in the Arab Spring wave of revolutions.

Within a few years of his coming to power in 1969, Moamar Qadaffi began interfering in Africa’s internal affairs on a large scale. The period of 1975 to 1988 was marked by Qadaffi’s support of revolution around the world. If Libya could have a successful revolution that overthrew a reactionary monarchy, then the people of every other country that yearned for a revolution deserved support and encouragement. So thought the “beloved leader” of the Libyan people.

Qadaffi’s revolutionary vision was combined with an intense hatred for the state of Israel, as well as a tremendous distrust of the United States, Israel’s main source of support. Thus, Qadaffi’s support for revolution overlapped with his financing of anti-Israel and anti-American terrorism. The best examples of Qadaffi’s revolutionary activities outside of the Middle East and Africa were in Northern Ireland, where the anti-British Irish Republican Army (IRA) received money and supplies from Libya, and in the southern Philippines, where Islamist rebels received Libyan help to sustain an insurgency against the national government.

Nov 012011

Journal of International Peace Operations
Volume 7, Number 3 – November-December, 2011

Where will the sun rise for the next stability operation?

TEN years ago, private firms specializing in stability operations were not recognized as part of a larger, established industry.  Nevertheless, hundreds of contractors were working in the field supporting various UN and West African peacekeeping operations with logistics, aviation, construction, and security.  Other companies were professionalizing militaries, training police, building refugee camps, and providing large scale logistics in the Balkans.  With endless examples over the ages, the role of the private sector in these kinds of operations is hardly new, but increased international reliance on such services necessitated a united consortium to address issues arising in the industry.  Several compelling factors spurred the coalescing of the industry to the point where an association became an increasingly useful resource.

Perhaps the most compelling factor was an interest expressed by the more seasoned and professional companies within the nascent industry in differentiating their experience and quality from the rest. Clients, especially governments, are notorious for ignoring quality, professionalism, and capability, instead focusing solely on lowest price.  Vital international policies, particularly those related to humanitarian concerns, should be important enough to emphasize experience and quality over short-term costs to ensure that these missions succeed.  The reality is that nonsensical short-term savings efforts undermine better companies and proposals, and are the bane of our industry — and of successful missions. ISOA addresses that issue and educates governments and other clients on the value of quality in contingency operations.

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