About the Author: Ambassador John Herbst serves as the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. Department of State.
A strategic roadmap for civilians engaged in reconstruction and stabilization missions is long overdue. As the United States and its international partners remain committed to Afghanistan, the need for strategic guidance that is comprehensive, institutionalized, and truly shared across institutions has never been clearer.
Today, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization is pleased to announce the Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction— the first strategic “doctrine” ever produced for civilian planners and practitioners involved in peacebuilding missions. It is a practical roadmap for helping countries transition from violent conflict to peace. Exactly one year ago today, the U.S. Army rolled out its unprecedented Field Manual 3-07: Stability Operations, which established the U.S. military’s support role in these operations. The Guiding Principles manual released today is a complementary publication, designed to support the civilian side of the U.S. interagency — those entrusted to lead these challenging missions.
Developed by the United States Institute of Peace and the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, the Guiding Principles manual offers two important contributions: 1) a comprehensive set of shared principles and 2) a shared strategic framework. Both rise directly from the enormous wealth of knowledge and experience that has accrued across the global peacebuilding community over the last two decades. The development of the manual involved intensive vetting and consultation sessions with NATO planners, British stabilizers, UN peacebuilders and other key partners. It also involved a thorough review of hundreds of doctrinal documents produced by the very institutions that have toiled in these difficult environments.
The strategic framework is the cornerstone of the manual and is based on a validated construct of common End States, Necessary Conditions and Major Approaches. It embraces five shared end states for these missions: a safe and secure environment, rule of law, stable governance, a sustainable economy and social well-being. Together, the framework and shared principles offer a critical tool for educating and training the hundreds of officers in the Active, Standby and Reserve components of the U.S. Department of State’s Civilian Response Corps.
While there is no silver bullet for the immense complexities of these operations, the Guiding Principles manual is a must-read for all levels of individuals involved in any aspect of a reconstruction and stabilization mission, be it decision-making, assessment, planning, training and education, implementation or metrics. It is the bible for reconstruction and stabilization operations.
Our mission in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization is to lead, coordinate and institutionalize U.S. government civilian capacity to respond in these environments. The manual augments this mission by establishing a set of baseline principles that can help improve U.S. interagency cooperation, along with cooperation with our partners at home and abroad, including national governments, international institutions and nongovernmental organizations. By institutionalizing and translating into practical guidance the many lessons we have learned, we can help free decision makers, planners and practitioners from the ad hoc approaches of the past.