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In a nation-building operation, outside states invest much of their resources in establishing and maintaining the host country’s police, internal security forces, and justice system. Strengthening all these elements is crucial for achieving sustainable law and order. This book examines in detail the post-Cold War reconstruction efforts of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, three major cases in which the United States and its allies have attempted to reconstruct security institutions. It then compares them with similar but smaller projects in Panama, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and East Timor. In doing so, the authors make three main arguments. First, establishing security during the “golden hour” — the period immediately following major combat operations — should be the most significant concern of policymakers. Second, building a functioning justice system is a critical and often overlooked task of rebuilding security. Third, the authors provide rough guidelines for successfully reconstructing security after a major combat operation, including recommended force-to-population ratios, financial assistance, and duration of reconstruction. For future policy recommendations, the authors encourage decisionmakers to consider such principal elements as negotiating formal peace treaties or surrenders, establishing of comprehensive post-conflict doctrine, and using outcome-based metrics to measure success.

"Postintervention reconstruction and democratization are highly topical these days, and this RAND Corporation study poses policy and case study conclusions about 'best practice' in establishing stability and security… The triple emphasis on policy inputs, outputs, and outcomes are comprehensive and worthwhile. Recommended. General readers through practitioners."

- CHOICE Magazine

The research described in this report results from the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated research was conducted by RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE). Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

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