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Improving U.S. Post-Conflict Capabilities: Report of an Independent Bipartisan Task Force

Speakers: Samuel R. Berger, co-chair; chairman, Stonebridge International, LLC, and former national security adviser [1997-2001], Brent Scowcroft, co-chair; president, the Scowcroft Group and former national security adviser [1975-77, 1989-93], Major General William L. Nash, General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention and director of the Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations, and Mona K. Sutphen, project deputy director, vice president, and managing director, Stonebridge International, LLC
Presider: Thomas D. Shanker, Pentagon correspondent, the New York Times
July 27, 2005
Council on Foreign Relations

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Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC


THOMAS SHANKER: All right, good morning. Thank you all for coming today. Just a couple of brief administrative remarks to start: I am Tom Shanker with the New York Times. Before we begin, may I ask everyone to please silence their cell phones? The only interruptions we are looking for are brilliant questions during that period, of course. We are gathered today for what I am sure will be a very thought-provoking discussion on a new Council on Foreign Relations Task Force report, Improving U.S. Post-Conflict Capabilities: Report of an Independent Task Force. The Task Force report, of course, was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, but the findings and recommendations of the report are those of the chairs and members of the Task Force, and the Council takes no institutional position on policy issues.

It is always a great honor to be asked to moderate these sessions, although I have to confess it is not because of any journalistic skills or abilities to ask questions, but because of two other personality points: I have very bad manners and I don't care what people think about me, which means there are certain rules that I will enforce with a martial discipline that will really impress even the retired generals here on the panel. We will end promptly at 10:00. For those who are here now, thank you for coming and I ask you to remain seated for the entire presentation rather than get up and leave and possibly disrupt. And during the ample time allowed for questions and answers, I will be looking for great questions and not speeches of any kind. The received wisdom will come from this side of the podium.

Our Task Force chairs who would be speaking today, of course, are people very well known to all of you, but just by very quick way of reference, we have Brent Scowcroft, who is a Task Force co-chairman. He is president of the Scowcroft Group and a former national security advisor. There is Samuel R. Berger, who is chairman of Stonebridge International LLC, and a former national security adviser. And William L. Nash, also a Task Force project director; he is the General John W. Vessey senior fellow and director of the Center for Preventive Action here at the Council on Foreign Relations, and someone--I know, having spent time with him in the Balkans--who knows a thing or two about peacekeeping and stabilization missions. So, General Scowcroft, sir?

BRENT SCOWCROFT: Thank you, Tom. It's very nice to be with you this morning and explain what I think it was we did in this study group; a very important topic, because it's one that, as I hope we will explain, we haven't always done very well. You know, traditionally, the United States has tended to look at military conflict as war-fighting and then other stuff, and especially since we developed the all-volunteer force, that has become more and more accentuated as we got a more professional force and honed their fighting skill to a fine edge. That was what we did and that--and we did it well and we got to the point where, you know, other people did this nation-building stuff.

We sort of evolved into that gradually and we tended to forget our big historical experience--the end of World War II and how we rebuilt the shattered Axis powers--but it sort of hasn't served as much of a model. The U.S. military was very different then. The Germans and Japanese were sophisticated societies--broken down completely, but sophisticated societies, and most of the world looked like each other. When the UN [United Nations] was founded, there were 52 countries. There are now 191. Now, many of those additional countries were at that time colonial appendages of one kind or another and so peacekeeping, nation-building, and so on belonged to the colonial powers and nobody thought about those kinds of things.

So we came upon this gradually and our own experiences after Vietnam--which was unique in itself and certainly not a model--we had things like, well, Afghanistan after the Soviet Union left and we played around with it for a while and found it so vexing that we just sort of gave up on it. There was Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo and they all left us with a reinforced notion that we didn't really want to do this sort of thing. We would fight the war, but maybe Europeans could do the peacekeeping. And what Iraq did for us was to produce a severe shock to this kind of implicit mind-set, and we came to realize what has always been true and that is that wars, by and large, don't solve problems; they just determine who gets to solve the problems.

And that's where we are now and the whole experience of Iraq is this kind of a learning process. We have been thinking about all this [for a while], but what you're trying to do is take a problem--when it's failing states, internal war, civil war, and so on--and build a new society out of it. That may involve conflict, but the goal is not the conflict; the goal is the end result.

Many of these 191 states now are only marginally equipped with governments able to protect their citizens, to give their citizens what we normally expect the role of the state to do and so we have another new phenomenon: the actual term is failing or failed states, the politically correct term is states in distress, but that's a kind of a new phenomenon. We have these many tiny little entities: poor, weak, simply without the resources to control and mobilize care for their people, and so they are on the verge of chaos all the time. And the whole process is: one state under stress, collapsing, can't cope with its problems, descends into conflict, it could be a long-term internal war, civil war and so on. Outside forces--whether the U.S. forces, UN forces, regional forces--go in, solve the conflict and then the problem is to put that state back on a sustainable path: reconstruction, stabilization, and development.

Now, there are really three distinct phases in this overall process: the failure part. Is there something we can do to prevent that? And we haven't even begun to figure out how you do that. Then, states in conflict and then states emerging from conflicts into reconstruction and stability. Now, this is a sort of seamless process as it actually happens on the ground, but it turns out it takes different skills at different times and this study focuses on the combat into reconstruction and stability part.

As you look at a typical conflict, there is no sharp line between these. You start out and use--well, I'd rather not use Iraq as an example, but you start out with a combat force in there--solve the combat. Ideally, while the military is achieving the defeat of the enemy force you have political types saying, well, that strategy may be okay, but if you would do it just a little bit this way, you would produce a situation at the end of the conflict which would help us in doing this. So right in the military phase there needs to be thinking about how would you like to conduct your operations with military efficiency, but canted toward producing a situation which will enhance the reconstruction.

Then, as the conflict comes to an end, ordinarily it doesn't simply stop, but the organized conflict gets more rare, the insurgency kind of conflict gets more predominant, and gradually it goes into police power. Now, the military runs the organized conflict part. Then there is this kind of insurgency part which is partly a police power, partly gendarmerie, which the United States did not have, and partly the organized military as well. And as you move away from the active conflict, you get more into police power, less into the military, but it happens incrementally and at different parts of the society it goes at different rates until you end up with--you are looking for stabilization, you are looking for implanting the rule of law, you have court systems, you turn to the courts to establish law and order rather than the military, and you proceed with your reconstruction.

Now, that is sort of the nature of the problem. The real difficulty is the United States is not organized this way, we are organized functionally and we have executive departments and agencies that have functional responsibility and so when you ask them to do a job where the functions gradually morph from one to another over a period of time and depending on different factors for the rate at which they do--we don't have a system that is able to cope with that. Now, it's a general state which is fundamentally one of the reasons the National Security Council was set up after World War II, because World War II showed us we didn't know how to coordinate. Well, now Iraq has brought home to us that we still don't know how to coordinate, and so the purpose of this study was to take a look at this problem and say, okay, what can we do to this functionally oriented government which will make it better able to handle and provide leadership, management, and coordination across this changing spectrum of conflict and reconstruction.

Now, that's the problem and Sandy is going to tell us how to solve it. [Laughter]

SAMUEL BERGER: General Scowcroft, you always know how to delegate. [Laughter]

First of all, it was a pleasure for me to co-chair this Task Force with General Scowcroft and I want to also acknowledge the fine work that was done by General Nash as the director of Task Force; Mona Sutphen [vice president and managing director of Stonebridge International LLC, a Washington-based strategic advisory firm]; and Lee Feinstein, [senior fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and deputy director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations], who had a heavy hand in writing this.

Let me pick up from where Brent left off. During the nineties, as General Scowcroft has pointed out, we were involved in several peacekeeping operations. There were successes; there were set backs; but from Somalia to Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo, one result was a very contentious debate about the merits of responding to conflict or collapse of weak and failing states--call it nation-building. 9/11 transformed that debate. No longer were failing states and faraway conflicts seen merely as humanitarian issues. As President Bush aptly put it in 2002, weak states like Afghanistan could pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.

The Afghanistans of the world will remain national security challenges for the foreseeable future, and we should expect the demand for U.S. involvement will continue. But, as Brent has said, we are not well prepared or organized as a government to carry out this key mission. Though the magnitude of the Iraqi mission may be unique, the demand after the combat phase for properly trained and equipped military and civilian personnel with well-conceived planning is not, so we must get our own house in order before we can reasonably expect others to do the same.

First, we must realize that no matter how experienced or talented civilians may be, the military will always have the main responsibility for public order and security in an immediate post-conflict setting. This means making sure that we have a sufficient number of troops with the right skills and training for demanding post-conflict reconstruction missions. This can no longer be a stepchild for the military; it has to be a core mission that is embedded in our training and preparation. Peacekeeping needs to be a central task of our military, just like war-fighting. The military has tended in the past to resist such force-wide training on the theory that if we build it, they, the policymakers, will come. Well, we have done six of these missions in the last twelve years. This mission is not going away in the world that we are facing. We need to be better prepared.

Second, we must establish clear lines of civilian authority: who is in charge of what? At the highest level, this means empowering the National Security Council as the forum--as the process for resolving the inevitable divisions between the best and proper roles of the military and civilian agencies. At the next level down, we must move towards unified command for civilian activities so that one civilian entity is setting priorities and allocating resources rather than the patchwork of overlapping programs that we have today.

The Task Force concluded that the State Department, led by a new undersecretary for stabilization and reconstruction, is the best place to take on this management role, with USAID [United States Agency for International Development] responsible for the day-to-day operations on the ground. The question of which agency should take the lead was debated vigorously by the Task Force, as most questions about jurisdiction are in this town, and we recognized that both State and AID will need significant reform and resources to take down these roles successfully.

On the issue of resources, we need more than what could be dispensed quickly, targeted as efficiently as possible. In the early days of a post-conflict mission, every minute is precious and early progress or early setbacks can set the course for the entire enterprise. Accordingly, the U.S. and its allies need to be able to move more nimbly, which is why we have proposed a $500 million reserve fund for such missions at State instead of relying upon time-consuming [budget] supplementals.

Now, I would point out that State has set up an office--coordinator office for reconstruction and stabilization, but the funding of that office right now in the Congress is $7.7 million in the House and $48 million in the Senate. We need to have a standing fund, so that we can act quickly [and] well, before we go back to Congress for more long-term money.

We also need to leverage the power we have through multilateral peacekeeping. There currently are 17 ongoing UN-led deployments. U.S. is responsible for about $1.2 billion of the $4 billion spent yearly. Compared to the $50 million we spent in Iraq, it's a relative national security bargain. But multilateral peacekeeping is straining at the seams, too, with the burden increasingly unevenly distributed among UN members. As the Task Force member Jim Dobbins points out, of the 58,000 UN troops deployed overseas, only 10 are American. We need to be prepared to play a larger a role to the extent that our force posture permits.

This fall at its 60th anniversary, the UN member states will be considering many constructive proposals that are on the table to reform UN peacekeeping. They need to be put into practice. We need to get this right. The UN will only be as strong as the time and energy committed by the member states.

I hope you all will read this report carefully and consider the recommendations we have made. In today's world of failed states, terrorism, weapons proliferation, and civilian conflict, ad hoc responses to such crises will no longer suffice. We need to make improving America's peacekeeping and peacemaking capabilities a top priority.

Thank you.

SCOWCROFT: Tom, could I just add one point? I was remiss in not saying a word or two about the Task Force, very ably led by Bill Nash, Lee Feinstein, and Mona Sutphen. We had a fantastic Task Force. We had experts from all over the government who had worked in these various areas and a lot of strong views. It took us a long time to do this report and I don't think anybody would say we have a perfect solution, because most of the time there is no perfect solution to problems like this. And one can say, no, this one should be strong, or, no, you ought to house it here and elsewhere, and we went to all of these things and what we ended up with was [a] great all-American way of kind of muddling through, but we need to get started and something is better than nothing, and we would be interested in your views about what we've done as well.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM NASH: Well, I too want to begin with a list of thanks, and thanks to the Task Force members. Congresswoman Jane Harman [D.-Ca], who is sitting up here, is representing a great number of people who just did this wonderful work. Mona Sutphen was the brains of the whole operation and her hard work and wisdom and wit are much appreciated. Obviously, though, the opportunity for me to work with the co-chairs and profit from their experience and wisdom was a great experience.

I would tell you, both of them have had a personal impact on my career--my military career. One of them, General Scowcroft, sent me to war and the guy that I had the most trouble with is Mr. Berger, who sent me to a peace, and that's kind of the point of what we dealt with on this Task Force. As a first American commander in Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords, my single greatest frustration was not having a civilian counterpart to work with me on the political and economic issues that we were faced with literally as we crossed this Sava River. And it was that inability to understand the dynamics in the political, economic, and--I would add--social arenas that made the task so difficult.

And then a couple of years later, I went to Kosovo as a UN civil administrator, and the greatest frustration there was not having a structural framework for the civil-military aspects of the work we were doing and a coherent parallel plan at the strategic, regional, and local level to work the issues. And so when given the opportunity to work on this Task Force, those were the main challenges that I wanted to try to contribute to. And as General Scowcroft said, our report is not perfect. As I tell my students at Georgetown and Princeton, this is not about perfection; it's about policy.

And so, we are trying to push this big rock down the road and make some improvements on both the military side--and the report addresses a number of issues on the military side--but it most importantly does not call for specialty reports. It calls for a proper doctrine, training, and organization and making sure that we have enough of what we need when the job comes about. And on the civilian side, trying to build a parallel capacity and a leadership element that we can [use to] address the all-important political, economic, and social aspects, as well as the security part.

And as also was said--Mr. Berger made the point--there is opportunity right now to make improvements because the president's 2006 budget that is in the House and the Senate dealing with [inaudible] has not received the appropriate support for the Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction that's currently in the State Department. And, you know, amazing things happen in our days. We even have a proposal to give money from the Department of Defense to the Department of State to support this effort. You know, what will they think of next? And so we really strongly encourage that type of proposal in order to improve this capacity.

Thank you, Tom.

SHANKER: As General Nash said, we're honored to have one of the Task Force members in the audience today. Congresswoman Harman, I hope I can impose upon to you to give a few comments, especially drawing on your expertise in the intelligence community.

REPRESENTATIVE JANE HARMAN: Well, thank you. I appreciate that and I especially appreciate the things that Brent and Sandy do. They are dear friends and they have written an excellent report with a lot of help from Bill Nash and a crack staff. I was just pleased to have a reprieve from Congress for a few hours to come down here to the CFR, which I actually belong to, and to try to contribute a bit of wisdom. When I just heard Brent talk about states under stress, he might have been talking about Congress. [Laughter] It has dissolved into constant fighting and it needs a reconstruction and stabilization plan. The president is up there now; maybe that's what he is doing.

But at any rate, let me make a few comments about this report. First of all, we don't learn lessons well in America. It is terribly sad, but there was enough information around and the right communicators before we ventured into Iraq to help us know what we would face at the end of a very successful military phase, and we didn't listen. I blame myself as one of the people who should have been listening. I certainly understood the material. I voted on the resolution. I voted for the resolution, but if I am typical, and maybe I am of the people who are up there, I gave almost no thought to what would happen after the military phase, and shame on me and shame on all of us because as we all know, this military--the post-military phase is much harder--much, much harder and dicey still than the military phase was. This report is [a] road map for how to do it better and we should learn our lessons now.

Just two comments: first of all, I think it was Brent who was talking about Congress as usual appropriating too little money. We do too much by supplemental appropriation, which is something that everybody should understand. All of the Iraq funding goes through supplementals and I was shocked to learn a few years back that almost all of the counterterrorism funding for our intelligence budget goes through supplementals. This is not a good way to budget. The supplementals come up on an ad hoc basis. People can't plan for the year and there is virtual no congressional oversight possible. So the goal here would be, I would think, to put this in the regular budget, to put enough money in the regular budget, and to get the organization right.

Last comment on the intelligence piece: there is a section on intelligence in this report. It's of course very brilliant. They must have called on just the right people. But it says in there that we have to do a much better job of committing intelligence resources to the reconstruction phase and we, in fact, suggest that Diana Negroponte's husband [John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] might have some role in this, and that is the logical place to put this. But our intel piece, post-military conflict in Iraq has been spotty and inadequate. I would argue that our intel piece going into Iraq also was spotty and inadequate, but nonetheless this failure is very significant. There has been a huge of loss life as a consequence and we still don't really have a handle on insurgency.

I don't blame all of this--of course I don't--on the very capable intelligence people who were trying to solve the problem, but better organization, which is what we are talking about here, would help them succeed. This is just an extremely important thing that Sandy and Brent and others have contributed to and I really appreciate a little time in a civilized, bipartisan place away from my day job, so thank you. [Laughter]

SHANKER: Thank you very much.

Before I open the floor to questions, I covered Don Rumsfeld [U.S. Secretary of Defense] and have sort of no control at all over the Question and Answer process, I am going to exert a little control of my own here. In reading Tommy Franks' autobiography, in which he gives hundreds of pages to the planning and execution of the war, he gives only a page and a half to phase four: the stability operations. And in that section he says, very briefly, that he received neither the policy guidance nor the funding to adequately plan for phase four. Now, putting aside my views on whether a four-star officer given the strategic questions of the world should get away with the functional equivalent of the New York waiter who says, "Sorry, not my table," I am just curious if you could help us understand in your report--drill in how future combatant commanders will never again be able to say, "Don't have the policy guidance; don't have the money." How would that work?

SCOWCROFT: Well, the combat commanders, first of all, are not trained for this and the report goes into that at some length. Secondly, they obey their political masters, and that gets back to the whole notion of what we thought we were about in Iraq and--well, I wasn't in the government. I think the assumption was that you had a pretty well-functioning state, but at the top of it you had a bunch of criminals. And you just wipe out the criminals and underneath that you have a state which will pick up and run and is rich in oil and can fund its own reconstruction, development, and so on. And when that didn't work, we had no fallback.

BERGER: Well, I would say two things. Number one, there was actually a great deal of work that was done before the war with respect to what post-conflict Iraq should look like and the challenges that we would face. It was done by the State Department, not by the Defense Department, and a decision was made--I think an incorrect decision--to leave the Defense Department in charge of the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase, which is not something I think the Pentagon or the military is well equipped to do.

What this report would say is, General Franks, win the war. You're also going to have continuing responsibility for the security situation, but the State Department is going to have responsibility for the civilian reconstruction part of this and the NSC [National Security Council] back in Washington is going to make sure that as one ramps down the other ramps up, so there is [a] brain--in the sense [of] a central nervous system--that tries to coordinate these two pieces.

SHANKER: General Nash?

NASH: Well, I would just say the specifics of the report that addressed the issue--what Sandy just mentioned, that within the Department of State this undersecretary of state that we recommend would have a purview of that, but within the Department of Defense we've recommended positions both in the secretary of defense staff and the Joint [Chiefs of] Staff that would be concerned with these issues and the associated doctrine to deal with it. And then most importantly--and this is [where] the expertise of the two gentlemen between us, Tom, comes into play--the National Security Council staff would have the appropriate people to deal with that issue at the executive level and the highest levels of the government in supporting the president.

BERGER: If I could add one thing, Tom. Because we weren't speaking [about] post-conflict challenge[s] as we were doing pre-conflict planning, we didn't, in my judgment, right-size the force. Ironically, the efficiency and the extraordinary capacity of our military means that we achieve the collapse of the regime before we've destroyed the enemy and therefore we need, often, more people there for the post-conflict period than we did to win the war. And so we had enough people to win the war in three weeks, but we didn't have enough people to stabilize or win the peace.

SHANKER: Well, the general who raised that concern was certainly ostracized and marginalized after he did so before Congress. One other very important thing; I would love to hear a few more comments. Mr. Berger, you mentioned the reluctance of the military to take peacekeeping as a specified military occupational specialty. At a time when the military is so stretched it's having problems meeting recruiting goals, when there is truly an inertia in the military to focus on high-end capacity, saying you can then fall back for the lower end. How can one break down that resistance? And Congresswoman, should [this] be legislated? Should you put forward legislation? Should someone require[e] the military to create peacekeeping and stabilization brigades?

BERGER: Well, I think the attitude in the military is beginning to change, not least because Iraq is the sixth one of these missions in twelve years, and [at] some point we've got to realize this is what we are going to be doing for the foreseeable future. The kind of conventional combat we have become actually so superb at now is not necessarily the number one activity in which our military is being engaged. And we talked about this in the Task Force. You could obviously set up two divisions of peacekeeping [troops] and leave the rest to the military to simply be war-fighters. I think our judgment was--and 138,000 troops in Iraq established--that this has to be a core mission for which we train, starting at basic training through AIT [advanced individual training, where soldiers learn mission-specific skills] and all the other stages of training.

A trained American soldier is going to have to understand not only how to use the bayonet, but also how to interact with the civilian population in a post-conflict situation, and I think the military should be commended for how well they have done this in Iraq at the individual unit level, but it's a patchwork. It doesn't have--it doesn't really have a clear plan associated with it.

SHANKER: General Scowcroft?

SCOWCROFT: We spent a lot of time on this issue. Many European states have gendarmerie forces, and that is forces between the military and the police, and we've talked about this a lot. And from the military standpoint, in honing this high military machine, they want to focus on their primary mission. You know, the term that was the "shock and awe" and so on: ruthless force, overwhelming. And we don't want to train paratroops to escort kids to kindergarten.

Well, those are slogans and the fact is if you look at the likely nature of conflict over the next generation, it's going to be much more this mixed kind of conflict [than] the "shock and awe" sort of conflict. And to step up a gendarmerie [when] we're already short of military in general--we just got rid of forces in Bosnia; we still have them in Kosovo and so on and so forth--we thought it was much more efficient to extend the training of the military to handle these mixed kinds of operations than it was to create a force which would not be available at the upper end, and be superfluous at the lower end.

SHANKER: Yes, Congresswoman?

HARMAN: I would just add one thing and that is about the nature of leadership. The secretary of defense and the president have to make winning the peace a part of their vocabulary, and this report says leadership starts at the top and I would certainly reinforce that. I don't think it's a question of legislating new boxes. I think it's a question of making certain that our leaders understand the nature of the problem. And I would just note that, as of I think yesterday, the global war on terror has been renamed the global struggle against violent extremism and -

SHANKER: [Off mike]--New York Times.

HARMAN: Oh, that was in the New York Times? Well, there you go--which I--so you're welcome. But my point is war doesn't cut it anymore. It's a much more complicated deal and so clearly the old strategies don't cut it either.

SHANKER: Please wait for the microphones and if you would stand, identify yourself, and your organizations. Sir, microphone.

QUESTIONER: Jerry Thompson. I'd like to just follow on your question if I could. You were asking about if we need legislation to direct the department to form brigades for this purpose. General Nash has mentioned the requirement for organization, doctrine, training. We've talk about the fact that senior leaders themselves in fact are not training for this type of operation. The parallels between the things I'm hearing and the discussion we had back in middle eighties that led to Goldwater-Nichols [legislation of 1986 that gave acquisition powers to the civilian leadership of the military branches]--the military reform, you know, right in front of your nose--do we need a Goldwater-Nichols for the interagency?

UNKNOWN: Well, there is a bill that is in the--[that] has been introduced by Senator Lugar and Senator Biden, which includes many of the elements of our report. It's not completely congruous, but it's not inconsistent. I do think we need legislation for some aspect of this; just, for example, to create a new undersecretary position at the State Department, who would be the point person for reconstruction and redevelopment, would require congressional action. So some of these and certainly the appropriation would require congressional action. So I don't think there is an overarching Goldwater-Nichols kind of bill that's necessary. This can be done largely by the president through executive order and reorganization, but some aspects of it will require legislation.

SHANKER: Yes, please.

QUESTIONER: Good morning. My name is Reuben Brigety. I'm a professor at George Mason University. Gentlemen, thank you for your time and for the report. I have a question regarding the jurisdictional issues. Did the Task Force consider rather than making an undersecretary of state--a new undersecretary of state responsible for this topic, did the Task Force consider elevating USAID to a cabinet level agency, which in my mind would have a couple of advantages? First, it would give the responsibility to [a] more operational agency. It would elevate this--elevate USAID and development assistance to the same level of cabinet authority that both diplomacy and military force have in the national security strategy. It would also to some extent emulate our partners like U.K. [UnitedKingdom], which have a cabinet-level military development. Can you talk about whether that's considered there, and what the arguments were, both pro and con, against that particular issue.

UNKNOWN: Yes, we did, actually. This was one of the issues that probably was most discussed by the commission and its members. I think ultimately we decided that AID should be the feet on the ground, not the boots on the grounds--the sandals on the ground or whatever folks from AID wear--[laughter]--but that really in order to wield the kind of influence in interagency structure [the] State Department was more suited to do that, with AID operating [as a] subsidiary to State. Obviously, the day-to-day development work should be by AID. That's what they do. They do crisis response, they do refugees, they do most of the reconstruction work that we [support] around the world, but a lot of this is also working with other nations to form coalitions. It is diplomacy. It is [holding] donors' conferences to raise money, and these are really functions that are embedded in State and I think we felt overall that State would wield more authority in the interagency process than AID. But there were those in the commission, I think, who probably better preferred the suggestion that you have made, but the majority were in favor of this structure.

SCOWCROFT: There were a number of compromises made across the board in what we came up with. One could argue that this responsibility ought to be housed in the NSC, which does have the authority, but that would tend to turn the NSC into an operational organization, which we have tried not to do. And the NSC is already becoming overwhelmed with the extent of the reach [of the problems] because this government is not structured to do these interagency problems.

You have the same kind of problem though: you give it to State, which is in a sense a policy organization rather than an operational organization, so the natural thing to do is give it to AID. We looked at making the director of AID the undersecretary of state as well, which is--would be sort of what you did, but AID has a lot of different kinds of responsibilities and that didn't work as well. So we sort [of] get a little bit of everything. Now you have AID and in effect the operational arm of the undersecretary of state, which gives you a command and control problem [in] some respects. You have the undersecretary of state in effect running an interagency organization, which is another anomaly. So is this perfect? No. This is--after long arguments about how [and] where to house different parts of this, this is what we came up with. It may not be the optimal organization, but we ought to try it. If it doesn't work, you can adjust it.

BERGER: If I could just--one last thing. This may not be optimal, but I think it's coherent and I think what we have now is incoherent.

SHANKER: General Nash?

NASH: I was just going to say, had we not considered that issue we would have had this meeting last January. [Laughter]

SHANKER: Yes, sir? Right here.

QUESTIONER: Hello. Bill Pryce, a retired professional diplomat [and former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras]. I can hardly wait to read the report, but I wondered--you talked about resources to a great degree and I wonder, did you consider the possibility of having reserve corps or individual training for people that we'll need to do this job when the job comes up, so that you have people to call on immediately.

NASH: You want me to take that?

SCOWCROFT: Yeah, go ahead.

NASH: Absolutely, there is a--first of all, the Senator Lugar-Senator Biden bill that was referred to earlier has a provision for a civilian reserve corps which we endorse. Our report expands it. There is also a discussion from the commissioner of police of New York about the police issue that’s in the thing, so there [are] a lot of comments about that and it’s not only a reserve capacity of people, but training those people over time and the preparation stage before you need them. And next to people you need a pot of money that you are able to react with and that’s part of the proposal as well. So there is--you have got--you know, one of the reasons the military is successful is they train--you know, they organize, they equip, they train, and they plan for these things. We’re trying to build up, over time, a similar capacity. [It] may mean a number of educational institutions, cooperation between State and Defense and the like, and then the creation of this personnel pool in a variety of categories.

SHANKER: I’m curious, General, the civilian reserve has been described as a peace corps for professionals. It’s a good idea. I’m wondering if there is a second order effect; that is, many in the military have a sense that while the political leadership describes a nation at war we are really a nation with just a military at war. Do you think the civilian reserve could go a little further in tying the general public to national defense and what the implications of that might be?

NASH: I do. I very strongly do and I think that if properly presented and organized as part of a larger policy, I think there would be great receptivity on the part of the citizens of the United States to participate in it. At the same time, it’s a very difficult situation because you are taking the policeman off of his beat, you are taking the fire chief off of his duty position, you are taking the city manager away from his town. So there has to be a coherent plan, but there is tremendous potential there throughout the country.

UNKNOWN: If you all haven’t read it, I would recommend you read an excellent piece that Tom wrote I think in Sunday’sNew York Times about the disconnect between our war-fighting and our society. We now have a voluntary army that we send to Iraq and we go shopping and put yellow ribbons on our car and that is a very troubling situation, I think, as that article points out. And I think--I know that the troops in Iraq are aware of this--that we’re not really making sacrifices here at home, while they are risking their lives every day and they deserve our gratitude and prayers. And I think that having a civilian reserve ready to surge, to come and fill in as the combat phase ramps down, to be in country very quickly, would be a bridge towards bringing the society more intimately into this mission.

QUESTIONER: Margaret Daly, Hayes EBR Associates. The military is already protesting they don’t have enough time to meet all of the demands for training. What are the implications of these recommendations adding a new corps mission to--requiring all soldiers to become linguists and so forth. Do we need to substantially increase the size of the armed forces in order to accommodate this?

SCOWCROFT: No, I don’t think we do. I think we need to adjust the nature of the priorities somewhat, I think, because one of the things we have done is build a military that is superbly equipped to fight the kind of war which we’re probably not going to see very much of over the next generation, and so we need to adjust the importance that we give to different kinds of missions. That doesn’t mean you have to build a bigger force, but maybe a somewhat smaller portion focuses on this, a somewhat bigger portion there.

We need to think about this in the military more than we have. How should the military organize to do this? And don’t think they haven’t learned a lot from being in Iraq, and that’s a part of the overall adjustment that we as a nation need on the military side this way, on the reserve corps, a judicial corp. We’ve got--for example, we’ve got retired business executives sitting around who could do a wonderful job out rebuilding the economies and the business structure of some of these countries. We have all kinds of resources if we can focus on it, and hopefully this will be a beginning to look at what we can do and how we [can] do better.

SHANKER: Yes, back in the fourth row.

QUESTIONER: Hi. I’m Julian Barnes with U.S. News [and World Report]. [The] State Department has had the lead role in reconstruction for the last year, and there are certainly a lot of voices who say it hasn’t gone that much better than the DOD/Pentagon experience for the previous year in Iraq. How would your recommendations, had they been in place before the invasion of Iraq, [have] made the situation there better or more coherent?

UNKNOWN: Well, I think we lost a lot of valuable time in Iraq and I think the situation on the ground in the immediate aftermath of the military victory lent itself to far more--it was a far more advantageous situation than the one that’s deteriorated over the last two years. So in a sense as this transfer took place from Defense to State, State was inheriting something that had gone through two years where not much progress was made, but they--you know we didn’t have enough troops on the ground in the beginning; we had looting; we had disorder; we had criminal activity; we had what was originally a small insurgency, which has grown into a large insurgency; and now Iraq, obviously, is a great challenge for both the military and civilians there and we are pretty much holed up in the Green Zone without the capacity to really operate--certainly in Baghdad, if not in much of the country. So the security situation really deteriorated in that period of time, making the civilian task much more difficult.

SCOWCROFT: I think the term that you use tells a lot. State has the mission now. What we are trying to say is this is not a State mission; it is housed in State. It is a government mission. And if you make it a State mission then the other departments [think], that’s not our problem. We don’t have anything to do with it. That’s why we house it all under the NSC. The NSC deputies committee will ensure that everybody--Treasury, Justice--everybody will feel that they are invested in this; that it’s not just a State mission. That’s what we have to get away from if this is going to work.

SHANKER: Yes?

QUESTIONER: Harriet Hentges and I chair two working groups on post-conflict reconstruction for the U.S. Institute of Peace. Your recommendation for a multilateral reconstruction trust fund makes a lot of sense. Given the difficulties there are in raising funds for peacekeeping operations, that our army funding comes from supplementals, what in your discussion led you to believe that this is a realistic goal that could be enacted?

UNKNOWN: I think Iraq has changed, I think, [a lot] of people’s perspective. I don’t think this administration came to office believing much in nation-building, and yet after 9/11 the president has been very clear that the weakness of state[s] like Afghanistan can directly affect our security. Now, we can do that alone largely, as we did in Iraq, or we can do it multilaterally through the UN where it’s possible. And where we can do it multilaterally through [the] UN, as we are [doing in] seventeen different missions around the world, that’s a good deal for the United States. Whether it’s Sudan or Liberia or Haiti, these are difficult missions and the UN is undertaking them. So I think this can sold as part of not just humanitarian policy, or not just part of international organization budgets, but as part of our national security budget.

SCOWCROFT: One of the things we need to do is look at the UN and multilateral efforts differently. They are really a way to leverage the United States and its influence, and when we can use the United Nations, when we can use the G8 and so on, that maximizes our power. It doesn’t minimize it, but that’s a kind of a mind-set that we’ve developed: unless we do it ourselves, it doesn’t get done right now.

SHANKER: Let’s go to the back of the room. Yes, the lady with your hand raised there. Please.

QUESTIONER: Hi. I am Mary--[off mike]--and I worked with Senator [Richard] Lugar [(R-IN)]. We’re sort of--[off mike]--and I can tell you that the situation is fairly bleak. On the Senate side we cut the 150 account in the budget process by a billion dollars. On the House side we cut it by some $3 billion. It meant that the House found no money--well, about $7 million for this office. On the Senate side we were able to find more money. There are two kinds of funding: one is for the office, and one is for the emergency complex contingency funds. We were able to fully fund the office at the president’s request--$24 million and then I think it was $74 million out of a hundred for the emergency funds.

But what happened on the floor last week--we had the bill up and there was an amendment on the Senate by Senator [Mike] DeWine [(R.-Ohio)] and some other very well-meaning Senators to take money out of the complex contingency fund--$50 million--and allocate it to AU [African Union] peacekeeping training for Sudan. So it’s a situation where a current emergency trumps future emergency and this--we come up against it constantly.

Now, I think that there is--oh, there is another provision--$200 million--Bill mentioned it--that the Defense Department wants to have the authority to transfer to State in an emergency. The SASC--Senate Arms Services Committee--denied that authority. We have an amendment to try to strike that provision that denies the authority, but anyway, the situation is--

SHANKER: I will invoke the power of the chair here. The question is--

QUESTIONER: The question is, [is] there is a consensus in the foreign policy community among the think tanks, the thinkers. There is not a consensus on the Hill. How do we move some of the good ideas and some of the serious thinking to the Hill?

SCOWCROFT: I would say it’s called presidential leadership. [Laughter, applause]

SHANKER: Yes, the gentleman here. Yes, in the red tie.

NASH: If I could just add on very quickly -

UNKNOWN: Leave it alone, Bill. [Laughter]

SHANKER: On to the next question. The general spoke eloquently.

QUESTIONER: My name is Brian Katulis. I’m with the Center for American Progress. I had a question about the challenges of establishing national and local governance in post-conflict situations and whether the Task Force considered those challenges. I ask based on my experiences working for NDI [National Democratic Institute for International Affairs] in Iraq in 2003 and seeing General [David] Petraeus and several individuals dealing with this challenge. In my quick read of the report I think there is a strong emphasis and a right emphasis on rule of law and public security, but did the Task Force consider the challenges related to democratic governance, given that the president has elevated democracy and freedom as a core national security objective in situations like Iraq?

NASH: We did not directly address a number of the bottoms-up issues that need to be addressed, and your example of General Petraeus is a very good one when he was in command of the division in Mosul. There is an interesting comment in our report and an additional comment by Tony Chase [ph], that talks about the issue of planning. I would call your attention to that and Tony and her late husband Abe have written extensively on the issue of planned decentralization and building democracy, amongst a variety of other issues from the ground up, but the level of our Task Force did not address a lot of those very specific issues. Mona, did I leave anything out? Okay.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Joe Klein from Time magazine. I want to go back to beating the dead horse of specialization again. It seems to me that we’re not in a post-conflict phase in Iraq; we’re in a post-invasion phase, and given the fact that [there] are like three distinct functions that I can think of--one is invasion forces, another is counterinsurgency forces, and another is peacekeeping forces--and there’s a need for counterinsurgency forces in some parts of the country and peacekeeping forces in another part of the country. What’s the argument against specialization other than the military’s recalcitrance?

UNKNOWN: I think the argument, Joe, is that these things--the force moves back and forth across your three categories. It may be initially an invasion force, but then it becomes stabilization--a counterinsurgency force and at the same time it’s a stabilization force. And you’re not going to have three separate armies that you rotate in during various phases. The nature of these conflict is that you’re doing at least the last two simultaneously as you’re doing civilian construction, and so our view is we need the soldier or the marine or the other military force to be able to move back and forth seamlessly between these functions and they need to be trained for it. Right now they are getting on-the-job training the hard way.

SCOWCROFT: I think, Joe, you make a good point, but manpower is a scarce resource in this country and right now we pay for our military and so on, and I think when you have that kind of a situation it is easier to train a paratrooper to escort kids to kindergarten than it is to train a crossing guard to be a paratrooper. And so I think in a perfect world, sure, we have all these forces, but you would have--in a practical world, you would have a gendarmerie force competing--trying to compete with the glamour of the military and it’s not a police force and it’s not military; it’s somewhere in between. Would you get the kind of quality you needed and so on and so forth? So, again, it’s like most everything else we do: it’s a compromise and you look--you know, don’t let best be the enemy of the good.

SHANKER: General Nash, do you want to comment?

NASH: No, that’s fine. Hit it right on the head.

SHANKER: Yes, gentleman in the blue shirt.

QUESTIONER: Thanks. Gary Mitchell from the Mitchell Report. I want to ask a question that really is about scenario planning, and it has two component parts. The first is, it seems to me that your recommendations are driven by a vision of the future that looks a lot like the past. It rests on the assumption that because we’ve done six of these, we need to organize so that we can do six more. And my question was, in your discussions did you do any sort of scenario planning? Did you say what--do we have a sense of what conflicts of the future might look like? Will they look--that’s the first part of the question.

The second part of the question is, it really has to do with size more than structure in force and that is whether one looks at the conflict or the post-conflict, the military or the civil side of this equation, do we have enough people at work and on payrolls today to make your strategic recommendations effective?

UNKNOWN: I would say on the second question the answer is no, which is why we have called for establishment, as the Lugar-Biden bill does, of a reserve force of judges and businessmen and former city administrators and others who could surge into a country very rapidly after the combat phase was over.

I think, as to your first question, we didn’t game the future in saying--go through a rigorous analytical process which said we can expect these future conflicts, but I think it was the conviction of the people on the Task Force that this last decade is not an anomaly; it’s a reflection of a post-Cold War world war in which things are no longer organized in terms of two blocks; that the cover has been lifted--heavy burden has been lifted from the former Soviet union and its satellite countries and there [are] going to be more and more situations in which we have failed or failing states, humanitarian crises that we can’t turn away from, and we are going to be called upon to be involved in some way or another, perhaps through our UN multi-lateral presence or through a green-helmeted presence.

The last thing I would say is that it is possible--and I think what you suggest is very important. We did work in the '90s with the CIA in trying to look forward to how do you predict what the failed states are going to be and I don’t know whether that work continues today, but we began to correlate--CIA began to correlate environmental factors, economic factors, civil society factors to try to project forward where crises might be looming so that we can get into the crisis-prevention business rather than the crisis-solution business.

SHANKER: I wanted to--the magic hour is arrived, but I wanted [to give] the panel members an opportunity for any concluding valedictory remarks. Yes, General Scowcroft?

SCOWCROFT: Well, no. I’ll just add to that last question. That’s a very good one and I think we’re--it's not so much looking at the past, it is looking at how our attitudes towards warfare and what it is, towards conflict and what it is, that [are] maturing; that almost regardless of the nature of future of warfare, warfare itself--war-fighting--does not solve the problems. War-fighting may decide who has to solve the problems, but after the major shooting stops, then you have the problem of what you do after that happens and how you put that political entity, whatever it is, back on a course of reform, stability, reconstruction to make it a useful member of the international community rather than a running sore. And that, I think, is going to be with us regardless of whether failed states becomes the wave [of] the future or whether we're back to more traditional conflict.

SHANKER: General Nash?

NASH: The penultimate paragraph of the report recognizes that stabilization and peacekeeping could [be seen] as conflict prevention done light. And we recognize, as General Scowcroft said in his introductory remarks, that the prevention and mitigation aspects that are a result of diplomacy and development and the like can prevent not only the war, but also the necessary expense and effort to go into a post-conflict environment. So I think, again, we took [a] piece of pie that has to do with the post-conflict, but it was in the context of a much larger issue of the future and a potential [framework].

SHANKER: I thank the panel members for sharing their very thought-provoking wisdom today. I thank the Council on Foreign Relations and Lee Feinstein for hosting this.

Those of us in the journalist community here, our challenge is to reduce all this to 700 words by deadline tonight. Far more important is for all of you--

UNKNOWN: [Off mike]

SHANKER: That's right. [Laughter] More important, I thank all of you for coming today because there is no more important topic that we as American citizens could be thinking about and talking about and writing to our congresspersons about.

Thank you for coming.

[Applause]

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