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Black Box Magic: Whole of Government Coordination Made Easy!

Author: Laura A. Hall, International Affairs Fellow, 2009-2010
September 2, 2010
The Will and the Wallet


The continuing quest for answers to how the United States can do a better job in operations like Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in a lot of bureaucratic soul searching, some actual changes and improvements, and lots of spilled ink.  The QDDR and QDR continue to deal with the challenges of civ-mil coordination and interagency operations.  It seems, sometimes, there's nothing new left to be said.  However, an article in Forbes online manages to demonstrate that absent leadership and real decisions on future structures and resources, there are still many bad ideas to be had.

It's Big Business

The first head-scratcher is why an article like this appears in Forbes.  But perhaps this makes sense as contracts  have sustained many institutions as this cottage industry has developed.  Training, analysis, research, and even direct implementation of reconstruction and stabilization assistance have been a boon for contractors and academics.  The year-old program to train civilian deployers to Afghanistan alongside the Indiana National Guard – with which the authors' university is associated – is a welcome advancement.  However much this provides interesting work for local Afghan role players and for academic contractors, this narrowly focused effort to train deployers for a specific conflict should not be extrapolated to the management of all operations in the future.

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