Small Wars Journal

GAO Report: Stability Operations Approach & Interagency Planning

Sat, 10/27/2007 - 4:41am
May 2007 General Accounting Office Report: Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Stability Operations Approach and Interagency Planning

What GAO Found:

DOD has taken several steps to improve planning for stability operations, but faces challenges in developing capabilities and measures of effectiveness, integrating the contributions of non-DOD agencies into military contingency plans, and incorporating lessons learned into future plans. These challenges may hinder DOD's ability to develop sound plans. Since November 2005, the department issued a new policy, expanded its military planning guidance, and defined a joint operating concept to help guide DOD planning for the next 15--20 years. These steps reflect a fundamental shift in DOD's policy because they elevate stability operations as a core mission comparable to combat operations and emphasize that military and civilian efforts must be integrated. However, DOD has yet to identify and prioritize the full range of capabilities needed for stability operations because DOD has not provided clear guidance on how and when to accomplish this task. As a result, the services are pursuing initiatives to address capability shortfalls that may not reflect the comprehensive set of capabilities that will be needed by combatant commanders to effectively accomplish stability operations in the future. Similarly, DOD has made limited progress in developing measures of effectiveness because of weaknesses in DOD's guidance.

DOD is taking steps to develop more comprehensive military plans related to stability operations, but it has not established adequate mechanisms to facilitate and encourage interagency participation in its planning efforts. At the combatant commands, DOD has established working groups with representatives from several key organizations, but these groups and other outreach efforts by the commanders have had limited effect. Three factors cause this limited and inconsistent interagency participation in DOD's planning process: (1) DOD has not provided specific guidance to commanders on how to integrate planning with non-DOD organizations, (2) DOD practices inhibit sharing of planning information, and (3) DOD and non-DOD organizations lack a full understanding of each other's planning processes, and non-DOD organizations have had a limited capacity to participate in DOD's full range of planning activities.

Although DOD collects lessons learned from past operations, planners are not consistently using this information as they develop future contingency plans. At all levels within the department, GAO found that information from current and past operations are being captured and incorporated into various databases. However, planners are not consistently using this information because (1) DOD's guidance for incorporating lessons into its plans is outdated and does not specifically require planners to take this step, (2) accessing lessons-learned databases is cumbersome, and (3) the review process does not evaluate the extent to which lessons learned are incorporated into specific plans...

Background / Reference Links:

DoD Directive 3000.05: "Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations", November 28, 2005

NSPD-44: Mananagement of Interagency Efforts Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization

Joint Publication (JP) 3-0: Joint Operations

JP 3-07.3: Peace Operations

JP 3-08: Interagency, Intergovernmental Organization, and Nongovernmental Organization Coordination During Joint Operations Vol I

JP 3-08: Interagency, Intergovernmental Organization, and Nongovernmental Organization Coordination During Joint Operations Vol II

JP 3-57: Joint Doctrine for Civil-Military Operations

Joint Operating Concept (JOC): Military Support to Stabilization, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations (Version 2.0)