As part of peacekeeping efforts, stability operations—post-conflict military efforts to bring peace and security to a region or country—represent an ongoing challenge for both military planners and civilian policymakers. RAND research has provided effective strategic recommendations in many such operations, helping those involved in unified stabilization, peacekeeping and security, transition, and reconstruction.
Future U.S. efforts should focus on finding areas of agreement with partner nations and possibly convening networks of people in those nations who can implement changes and then providing the necessary resources and technical expertise.
Policymakers and military commanders should use the lessons derived from the final years of U.S. involvement in Iraq to inform critical decisions and timelines required to successfully end large-scale military operations, including the one in Afghanistan. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” template to follow.
While al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks has been drastically reduced and the organization seriously weakened, the United States can expect to continue its battle with the terrorist group for many years to come.
A sustained focus on Afghanistan at all levels of the U.S. government is needed for the United States to make the most of its limited influence on the complex Afghan peace process.
The "Americanization" of NATO's mission in Afghanistan may prove crucial to the future of Afghanistan, but the alliance could suffer long-term harm by being relegated to the position of junior partner to the United States.
The rising number of terrorist plots in the United States with links to Pakistan – most recently the failed car-bombing in New York City – is partly a result of an unsuccessful strategy by Pakistan and the U.S. to weaken the range of militant groups operating in Pakistan.
From the lessons of the Vietnam War to the recent downfall of the Tamil Tigers in Southeast Asia, conflicts between insurgencies and governments tend to follow certain patterns as they arc toward their endings.
The record of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein compares favorably to that of many other U.S. efforts at post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the areas of economic and public reforms. However, these achievements were undermined and overshadowed by the U.S. failure to protect the Iraqi population from the criminals and extremists among them who pulled Iraq into civil war.
Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work.
By better managing environmental issues during deployments, U.S. Army units can gain tactical and strategic advantages that will help in combat and post-conflict operations, and boost overall mission success.
Former Ambassador James F. Dobbins has written the first “insider's account” of the Bush administration's post-9/11 diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan after the Taliban had been toppled.
Over the past few years, the European Union has demonstrated the capacity to deploy and employ armed force outside its borders in support of broader common policy objectives, creating a new player in nation-building operations.
Efforts to adequately plan for the post-combat period in Iraq were thwarted by overly optimistic views held by top civilian leaders and a belief among military leaders that civilian authorities would be responsible for postwar operations.
RAND Recommends U.S. Military Adopt Consumer Marketing Strategies to Reach Iraqi and Afghan Civilians.
May 17, 2007 news release: New Security Threats Beyond Iraq Will Require Changes in Military Deployments and Structure, RAND Study Says.
June 24, 2006 News Release: Former Swedish Prime Minister Discusses Building Of Nation States At Pardee RAND Graduate School Commencement.
April 19, 2006 News Release: Study Finds Nation-Building Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan Hampered By Failures to Address Health Problems
RAND news release: RAND Study Says International Peace-Enabling Force Could Enhance Security of Israel and a Palestinian Statey