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by Colonel Michael F. Scotto and Jason S. Alexander
Small Wars Journal
The role of the PRT on the Iraqi battlefield and in the immediate post-conflict phase is an interesting topic. As insurgency warfare took hold in the 20th century, the battlefield transformed from a strictly military-based operation focused on geographical terrain to one that employs civilians in the human terrain, for reasons of political expediency, economics, and tactics 'other than war'. This transformation has been challenging, not just for reasons derived from enemy actions, but also due to the challenges of various agencies' cultures and the bureaucracy of the US government. The article in the Foreign Service Journal by Captain Sean P. Walsh, Improving the PRT-Military Professional Relationship delves into the issue of how to make this interagency process work more effectively. Captain Walsh makes two very important points—that the PRT must closely coordinate with the military "battle-space" owners, and secondly, that PRT members must better understand DoD culture and lingo. Without these two points being closely adhered to, PRT members will be lost and unable to find their way. It is the purpose of this essay, which is directed at young military officers, is to discuss from the PRT perspective the value of civilians in modern conflict zones, using Captain Walsh's article as a jumping-off point. Small wars and counterinsurgencies are the way many wars are likely to be fought for the foreseeable future, and it is up to the DoD and DoS to arrive at solutions on how best to cooperate and coordinate efforts to stabilize struggling nations. Furthermore, it is critically important to prepare today's young leaders to meet the challenges of interagency operations for both today's and tomorrow's battlefields.