Small Wars Journal

Review Essay: Peacekeeping & The Consolidation of Gains

Fri, 05/20/2022 - 10:31pm

Review Essay: Peacekeeping & The Consolidation of Gains

James J. Torrence

Power Cover

Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019 [ISBN: 9781108557689, E-book, 268 pages]                                   


Operations to consolidate gains require the dynamic execution of area security and stability tasks based on the desired operational end state that supports the strategic objective of the campaign. Consolidate gains activities include the relocation of displaced civilians, reestablishment of law and order, providence of humanitarian assistance, and restoration of key infrastructure. Concurrently, Army forces must be able to accomplish such activities while sustaining, repositioning, and reorganizing forces for ongoing or future operations. Commanders make a conscious shift in emphasis from defeat of enemy forces in the field to those measures that address the long-term security and stability of a particular nation or area and its population. The goal is to transition control over territory and populations to legitimate authorities in a way that allows US forces to make the strategic position of relative advantage gained during combat operations enduring.

―Army Field Manual 3-0, Operations

I was a member of the Combined Arms Center (CAC) in 2017 when Field Manual (FM) 3-0 was released. The commander at the time, Lieutenant General Mike Lundy, talked to CAC members on multiple occasions to discuss the importance of FM 3-0 and its changes. During his talks on FM 3-0, Lieutenant General Lundy often emphasized the importance of consolidating gains both during and at the conclusion of Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCO). Lieutenant General Lundy also co-authored an article at Military Review titled “Three Perspectives on Consolidating Gains”  in which he and his fellow authors asserted that “how we plan for, execute, and follow through with consolidating gains in our generation will determine not just the strategic advantages of the Nation but define the way history judges our actions.”[1] This paper discusses the doctrinal linkage between consolidation of gains and peace operations, lessons from power in peacekeeping, the employment of persuasion in Namibia, and the use of inducement strategies in Lebanon (post-2006). As such, peace operations have an important role in consolidation of gains.

Doctrinal Linkage between Consolidation of Gains and Peace Operations

FM 3-0 defines the consolidation of gains as the “activities to make enduring any temporary operational success and set the conditions for a stable environment allowing for a transition of control to legitimate authorities.”[2] Consolidating gains are “an integral part of winning armed conflict and achieving success across the range of military operations.”[3] Additionally, FM 3-0 says the consolidation of gains may include “the establishment of public security temporarily by using the military as a transitional force, the relocation of displaced civilians, reestablishment of law and order, performance of humanitarian assistance, and restoration of key infrastructure.”[4] The definition of possible activities included in the consolidation of gains nearly mirrors the doctrinal definition and explanation for peacebuilding found in the Multi-service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (MTTP) for Peace Operations, which is doctrine applicable to Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

MTTP for Peace Operations describes peacebuilding as “the long-term, post-conflict process of creating conditions for a lasting peace.”[5] MTTP also says that peacebuilding “strengthens host nation (HN) capacities to address the root causes of conflict; rebuilds institutions, infrastructure, and civic life; and maintains effective and harmonious political and societal order.”[6] Additionally, MTTP states that peacebuilding forces must “understand how to integrate information-related capabilities to generate desired effects in the information environment, and consolidate security-related gains to achieve political-military objectives.”[7] Both FM 3-0 and the MTTP emphasize that consolidating gains is essential to achieving political and military objectives. Furthermore, FM 3-0 and the MTTP emphasize the importance of stabilizing the security environment for eventual re-establishment of legitimate civil control.

Though there is overlap (and some duplication) between tasks involved in consolidating gains and peacebuilding, they are not the same. Consolidation of gains involves “offensive, defensive, and stability tasks” to “set the conditions for a stable environment allowing for a transition of control to legitimate authorities.”[8] In the article Lieutenant General Lundy co-authored on consolidation of gains, there was a focus on offensive and defensive tasks to set the conditions for stability operations, but there was no specific discussion of how to conduct stability operations in the article.[9] The stability tasks in consolidation of gains “seek to stabilize the environment enough so that the host nation [or provisional government] can begin to resolve the root causes of conflict and state failure.”[10] The stability tasks in consolidation of gains are: establish civil security, establish civil control, restore essential services, support governance, support economic and infrastructure development, and conduct security cooperation.[11] Each of the stability tasks in consolidation of gains is directly analogous to activities performed in peacekeeping.

Fig 1

Figure 1. Overlay of Notional Large-Scale Combat Joint Phasing Model (FM 3-0, pp. 1-12) and excerpt from FM 3-0 logic chart (FM 3-0, p. x) to highlight where consolidation of gains occurs in the five phases of operations.

After a review of FM 3-0 with a focus on the consolidation of gains, German Lieutenant Colonel Dominik Schellenberger argues: “the central conclusion is that the US Army—at all levels of war—has to prepare itself not just to preserve and support the existing host nation civil administration, but to temporarily establish military government or parts thereof.”[12] Schellenberger then made an important point that the preservation and support of host-nation governments and the potential establishment of temporary military governments necessitates the “close coordination and cooperation with international organizations, such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations operating in the theater of operations.”[13] The United Nations is not discussed in FM 3-0, but it is an organization US military leaders should understand because of the lessons identified in peacekeeping missions that relate to consolidating gains in regions during and following conflict.

Most worldwide peacekeeping operations (and peacekeeping research) “are conducted under the sponsorship of the United Nations.”[14] There are myriad lessons peacekeeping can teach leaders. One must also understand where peacekeeping differs from military operations.  United Nations Peacekeepers have three doctrinal rules by which they abide: “(1) impartiality, (2) consent of the warring parties, and (3) the use of force only in self-defense.”[15] As Dr. Lise Morjé Howard argues, “These principles of impartiality, consent, and the limited use of force are precisely what distinguish peacekeeping from other forms of military intervention.”[16] Though peacekeeping differs from traditional military operations, there are decades worth of peacekeeping lessons from multiple operating environments that can inform military leaders.

If the consolidation of gains is “an integral part of winning armed conflict” and “how history judges our actions,” what resources are available for leaders to understand how to conduct stability operations in support of consolidating gains?[17] It is important to study the effectiveness (and lack thereof) of United Nations peacekeeping operations to identify lessons that apply to the stability tasks that make up consolidating gains during and following LSCO. There are many books on military professional lists reading focused on LSCO and counterinsurgency, but there are currently no books on peacekeeping on any service chief’s professional reading list. It is understandable that peacekeeping is not on the forefront of military reading lists, but we must ensure our leaders have exposure to the successes and failures of peacekeeping operations so there is a foundation to understand different approaches (other than military compellent force) to consolidating gains and achieving stability

Lieutenant General (ret.) H.R. McMaster reinforces the need for the study of consolidating gains. He argues that “failure to consider what was required to turn military gains into ambitious political objectives led to many of the difficulties encountered after the invasion of both Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.[18] Additionally, McMaster argues that:

A post-Vietnam emotional aversion to long-term military commitments combined with faith in America’s technological military prowess had overwhelmed historical experience, suggesting that the consolidation of military gains was optional, not an essential part of the war.[19]

McMaster described the United States’ inability to consolidate gains in Iraq and Afghanistan as “strategic narcissism” that “resulted in a lack of preparation” and “poor adaptation to an evolving conflict.”[20] Military leaders must study examples of consolidating gains in complex, evolving operational environments. Professional reading lists should be more comprehensive by including best practices from peacekeeping experiences. Accordingly, Dr. Lise Howard’s Power in Peacekeeping serves as an excellent primer to understand peacekeeping operations and how they can inform approaches to the consolidation of gains.

Lessons from Power in Peacekeeping

Power in Peacekeeping posits that “United Nations peacekeepers have enjoyed remarkable success by relying primarily on nonviolent means–persuasion, inducement, and coercion short of [military compellent force]–as their main forms of power.”[21] She observes that, following the closure of operations, “the UN’s record is remarkably successful. Since the end of the Cold War, the UN has concluded 18 mandates in internal conflicts. Of those, two-thirds were successful at mandate implementation.”[22] Her focus on the employment of power other than military compellent force is important to military leaders whose professional education has focused on using force as the primary means of power projection.

Howard makes an important point that “what is uncommon about power relations exercised here [in peacekeeping]” is that the long-term goal of the peacekeepers is not to gain more power over the host-nation or its people.[23] Instead, the goal of peacekeepers is to increase the power of the host-nation and its people.[24] Howard’s examples of how United Nations peacekeepers succeeded and failed using “persuasion, inducement, and coercion short of [military compellent force]” are important lessons for military leaders to understand as they study methods to consolidate gains.[25] This paper focuses on persuasion and inducement since a broader discussion of coercion is not germane.


Howard defines persuasion “as a social process of interaction wherein one entity changes behavior in another, in the absence of overt material inducement or coercion.”[26] She further posits that “mediation, shaming, outreach, symbolic displays, and training/education–are some of the key tools of persuasion in peacekeeping.”[27] For persuasion to be successful, Howard says that “three essential factors must be met: centralized messaging, a deep understanding of the peacekept, and aligning the basic messages of the peacekeeping mission with peacekeeper behavior.”[28] It is important to understand that “dissonance between word and action, however, can also lead to significant problems, such as when peacekeepers proactively use their weapons, or in the domain of sexual abuse and exploitation.”[29] Howard makes it clear that “all forms of power, even when employed expertly, do not necessarily change behavior as intended. In the case of Namibia, however, the UN’s power of persuasion proved effective.”[30]

The United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) was established in Namibia in 1989 with a mandate that included: “oversee a ceasefire…overseeing the repeal of all discriminatory legislation…facilitate the return of refugees in a timely manner,” and to “oversee free and fair elections.”[31] Howard goes into great depth on how UNTAG overcame its initial challenges and succeeded in Namibia. In particular, she showed how UNTAG “had a unified message, exhibited respect for and understanding of Namibian culture and politics, and aligned peacekeeper message, action, and behavior.”[32] To take control of the information narrative in Namibia, the “UNTAG staff resorted to diverse and creative methods. For example, staff would attend church services and afterward discuss their operations with thousands of Namibians on a weekly basis.”[33]

Because UNTAG created the conditions to speak with one voice, it was able to develop a “combination of well-structured, widely disbursed offices with flexible guidelines [which] provided an efficient and effective means of exercising the power of persuasion through outreach.”[34] UNTAG even created a campaign to inspire trust in the population for elections:

A concrete manifestation of UNTAG’s outreach and public information efforts came in the form of material items as symbolic displays. Staff printed T-shirts, pins, and posters to relay their messages, producing and distributing approximately 600,000 visual articles. Many items included slogans such as “Namibia: Free and Fair Elections,” “Your Vote Is Secret,” and “It’s Your Chance to Choose for Namibia.”[35]

Howard makes it clear that “the mission’s use of persuasive means to change behavior set an example for ongoing political processes in Namibia.”[36]

Consolidating gains both during and in the aftermath of LSCO is a major challenge. There will be political considerations, misinformation, competing priorities, and a population that is dealing with considerable damage to both its nation and its people. Commanders could be tasked with anything from establishing local elections to temporarily serving as a police force to re-establish public order. FM 3-0 also accounts for potential challenges associated with consolidation of gains and states: “in extreme cases where civil government or community organizations are dysfunctional or absent, international law requires military forces to provide basic civil administration.”[37]

The success of UNTAG in Namibia makes it clear that developing and propagating a shared narrative to the local population is critical for success. Military leaders must seek to counter misinformation and have a clear message. Without a clear message, they create the opportunities for malicious actors to inject a competing narrative that can impede the US chance of success. FM 3-0 reinforces the need for military commanders to “establish and maintain communications with the population” and makes it clear that “a civilian population’s perception of legitimacy may influence how it reacts to military forces.”[38] FM 3-0 also identifies that “threat forces will exploit any lack of cultural understanding displayed by US Forces” and that “threat forces will conduct information campaigns that portray a United States bent on political and economic global domination.”[39] The enemy will then “seek recruits from populations alienated by US Forces.”[40] Military leaders must study the success and failure of United Nations missions like UNTAG in Namibia that focus on using persuasion to develop a relationship with the host-nation and reinforce a positive narrative.


Howard argues that “inducement is the main mechanism of UN power in Lebanon.”[41] Many military leaders have been exposed to inducement during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Howard contends that:

Types of inducement may include: (1) providing carrots and other incentives such as Quick Impact Projects (QIPs, usually at the battalion level) , trust funds (often geared toward DDR [Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration]), and development and humanitarian aid; (2) sanctions or market restrictions (such as on weapons trade and conflict minerals); (3) the creation or rebuilding of state institutions (often electoral, municipal, legal, and security sector); and (4) local employment and the unintentional peacekeeping economy.[42]

The types of inducement Howard describes directly correlate to the efforts that FM 3-0 includes in the consolidation of gains.[43] Howard’s discussion of the use of inducement in Lebanon by United Nations personnel (in a mission that is still ongoing) generates lessons that directly apply to stability tasks associated with consolidating gains.

Howard argues that United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), primarily through inducement, “has proven effective at reducing violence and restoring peace and security in areas where it is deployed.”[44] UNIFIL’s mandate has undergone revisions, but it was initially established to “confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.”[45] Howard makes it clear that “it is impossible to argue decisively that UNIFIL has been either a success or a failure.”[46] She contends that, “on the whole, the evidence indicates important positive effects, but with significant caveats.”[47] Though it is unclear if UNIFIL has been a success or failure, the mission contains lessons on the effective use of inducement in a complex environment with multiple actors and a looming threat of violence.

Among several examples, her discussion of UNIFIL’s rebuilding of state institutions and the assistance provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) stand out. Howard describes how, “after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, citizens in the south had little if any experience with the principles or realities of a functioning municipal government that would collect taxes and provide services.”[48] Depending on the duration of LSCO, a military commander could face a similar circumstance of a town, region, state, etc. struggles to participate in and implement a functioning municipal government. FM 3-0 states: “Army units [may] focus on implementing temporary or interim capabilities to lay the foundation for host-nation or inter-organizational development of judicial systems” which directly correlates to some of the actions taken in UNIFIL to establish a basic municipal government.[49]

UNIFIL, to this day, “works to help establish official municipal governing structures” in support of the Lebanese who have been isolated in the south of the country.[50] Additionally, “after 2006, UNIFIL began training and equipping the LAF as a means to extend state authority to the south.”[51] UNIFIL’s training of the LAF directly applies to language in FM 3-0, which says security cooperation “enhances military engagement and builds the security capacity of partner states.”[52] Howard’s work directly applies to stability tasks in consolidation of gains. Her research showed that “UNIFIL engages in inducement as a means of conflict management by assisting in bringing both municipal and security institutions of the Lebanese state to the south” which are challenges the US Army may also face when consolidating gains.[53] The consolidation of gains may require military forces to help restore local institutions, legitimize host-nation security forces, or interact with populations that have been neglected or isolated from the central government due to the impact of LSCO. For example, UNIFIL “not only provides services that communities need–such as health, veterinary, and dental clinics–it has become the south’s largest formal sector employer.”[54] McMaster pointed out that in recent conflicts, “establishing rule of law, providing basic services, and building local governance fell into the military purview.”[55] Intra and post-conflict consolidation could include many tasks for which leaders may be untrained.  Leaders must understand examples like Howard’s nuanced discussion of UNIFIL to understand what may be required of them when using inducement to exert power. The scenario in Lebanon is not completely analogous to consolidating gains following LSCO, but the existence of armed groups, regional conflict, and people caught in between create conditions that will likely exist in the aftermath of LSCO.


The US military does not exist to conduct peacekeeping operations but that does not mean it should ignore the study of United Nations peacekeeping missions. There are many lessons that the United States military can learn by studying examples of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Consolidating gains during and after LSCO will create major challenges for military leaders. The stability tasks that could be required while consolidating gains range from establishing a government to providing essential services to a population. The consolidation of gains “may occur over a significant amount of time and involve transitions in both focus and partners.”[56] It is entirely possible that the consolidation of gains will have a longer duration than the fighting that precedes it. Protracted stability tasks to consolidate gains require the use of power other than military compellent force.

Howards’s Power in Peacekeeping is a practical starting point for military leaders to read about examples of the use of power short of military compellent force to conduct stability tasks in support of the consolidation of gains. The use of persuasion in UNTAG created the conditions for public elections and demonstrated the importance of a single, unified message propagated by the mission. The use of inducement in UNIFIL showed the importance of rebuilding state institutions and providing security force assistance to legitimize host nation security forces. Reading about peacekeeping will help ensure we do not fall into the trap of strategic narcissism and that we have an intellectual foundation upon which we can build to conduct the stability tasks required to consolidate gains following LSCO.

Keywords: Peacekeeping, Strategy, Doctrine, Stability, Military, United Nations


[1] Mike Lundy Richard Creed, Nate Springer, and Scott Pence, “Three Perspectives on Consolidating Gains,” Military Review, 22 February 2021,

[2] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0. Washington, DC: US Department of the Army. October 2017:, p. 8-1.

[3] Ibid., pp. 5-22.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Headquarters, Department of the Army, MULTI-SERVICE TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, AND PROCEDURES FOR PEACE OPERATIONS, Army Techniques Publication 3-07.31. Washington, DC: US Department of the Army. May 2019:, p. 2.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., p. 26.

[8] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual pp. 8-1– 8-2.

[9] Richard Creed, Nate Springer, and Scott Pence, “Three Perspectives on Consolidating Gains.”

[10] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual p. 8-11.

[11] Ibid., pp. 8-11–8-13.

[12] Dominik Josef Schellenberger, From Domination to Consolidation: At the Tactical Level in Future Large-Scale Combat Operations. Ft. Leavenworth, KS: US Command and General Staff College, Army University Press, 2020, p. 79.

[13]  Ibid. 


[15] Ibid., p. 4.

[16] Ibid., Mike Lundy, Richard Creed, Nate Springer, and Scott Pence, “Three Perspectives on Consolidating Gains.”

[17] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, pp. 5–22.

[18] H.R. McMaster, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. New York: Harper Collins, 2020, p. 243. McMaster also cited the following work at the end of this excerpt: Stephen D. Biddle and Peter Feaver, “Assessing Strategic Choices in the War on Terror,” in Beth Bailey and Richard Immerman, Eds., Understanding the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New York: NYU Press, 2015.

[19] H.R. McMaster, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World, pp. 243.

[20] Ibid., 246.

[21] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Kindle Edition, pp. 199-200.

[22] Ibid., p. 7.

[23] Ibid., p. 19.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid., pp. 199–200.

[26] Ibid., p. 33.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid., p. 36.

[29] Ibid., p. 45.

[30] Ibid., p. 28.

[31] Ibid., p. 57.

[32] Ibid., p. 65.

[33] Ibid., p. 66.

[34] Ibid., p. 65.

[35] Ibid., p. 66.

[36] Ibid., p. 79.

[37] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, pp. 8–12.

[38] Ibid., pp, 8-3–8-4.

[39] Ibid., p. 8-4.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, p. 83.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, 5-22; 8-11-8-12.

[44] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, p. 107.

[45] UNIFIL Mandate, 2 December 2019,

[46] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, p. 100.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid., p. 122.

[49] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, pp. 8–12.

[50] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, p. 122.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, pp. 8-12.

[53] Lise Morjé Howard, Power in Peacekeeping, pp. 123-124.

[54] Ibid., p. 27.

[55] H.R. McMaster, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World, pp. 245.

[56] Headquarters, Department of the Army, OPERATIONS, Field Manual 3-0, pp. 8–4.

Categories: peacekeeping - Book Review

About the Author(s)

James J. Torrence is an active duty US Army Signal Corps officer. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. He has a Doctorate in Strategic Security and multiple graduate degrees including an M.S. in Strategic Design & Management, an M.S. in Cybersecurity, and a Master of Military Art & Science. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan as a battalion communications officer and has served in various military leadership positions in the United States, Germany, Belgium, Korea, and Israel. He is the author of Strongpoint Cyber Deterrence (SWJ Book Pocket Book, 2020).  



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