"Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction": A Strategic Roadmap for Peace

Posted by John Herbst
October 7, 2009
Soldiers Patrol Road in Korengal Valley

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.



Texas, USA
October 7, 2009

David in Texas writes:

Dear Madame Secretary:

I applaud the plan to begin a Reconstruction & Stabilization. It is the best solution presented thus far! My only concern is that WE (The United States) recognize that it will be very tempting to reassert military actions when progress wains -- or is uneven. Safeguards against this must be in place. Once Reconstruction & Stabilization begins, we must take the view that there is no looking back -- only way out is forward - not a return to military action.

United States
October 7, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

This post reveals a peculiar species of doublespeak - we invaded Afghanistan and now we are "peace-building"? That would be almost funny if it were not for our guys who died there.

We were told that the Taliban, the former government of Afghanistan, refused to extradite Osama bin Laden without proof of involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center, and that is the only reason ever announced publicly to explain why we invaded Afghanistan.

If Afghanistan no longer has Osama bin Laden available for extradition, doesn't our continued occupation of the country constitute a violation of international law?

Assuming it is even remotely lawful to attack, invade and occupy a nation over a refusal to extradite one of its residents without evidence of guilt, isn't our ongoing war distracting us from our search for Osama bin Laden?

United States
October 9, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

NATO was created and exists solely as a mutual defense organization.

By treaty, NATO members agreed to defend any member nation that is attacked by another country.

Afghanistan was never a member nation.

Afghanistan never attacked the U.S., which is a member.

The U.S. was attacked, according to the Bush Administration, by a private citizen - Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban, a former government of Afghanistan refused to extradite Osama bin Laden without proof of wrongdoing, and that is the only reason announced publicly to explain why we are in Afghanistan today.

So why is NATO in Afghanistan?

Does NATO's presence in Afghanistan violate its own charter?

Example: http://www.nato.int/isaf/topics/prt/index.html

Maryland, USA
October 7, 2009

Patrick in Maryland writes:

Hi, John, & People of the Department of State's Web Site.

I Like The New Guiding Principles Manual, it sounds very well thought out . It's nice to know The States Department has a plan for the complex operation,of helping to rebuild,secure and train people to handle
this very challenging job.

I wish you and our partner Countries the best on the Transformation of Afghanistan .

Thanks for writing-in John H.


South Korea
October 8, 2009

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Dear to ..

Is an access method which is small tactical.

To agmented dispatch of the military force approves. if,,,,,If but with criticism public opinion later is conscious the expense which will occur, the training employs the natives with the military personnel;

Thinks training the military personnel "blackwater" method public opinion one also is small quite the same editorial escort enterprise to do to keep.(Or the military force of similar environment training.)

The training method of the U.S. army is a many cultural difference to them, internally thinks that almost the effect of training does not appear. When the salary which comes to be recognized with army serious disturbance kind of occupation is not provided, who will disobey an order thinks in the natives.The public opinion of criticism follows but cooperation of the natives without thinks the thing where a more casualty will come out.

If executes in if, this also the criticism public opinion follows, but is quite an opinion which is personal.

Virginia, USA
October 8, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

My question is why won't Pakistan allow the U.S. Marines on it's soil? Seems to me that Pakistan does not have a security program that prevents terrorists in its own country from attacking.

The United States Military should consider placing gun turrents around the entire country of Afghanistan, a better border defense with big guns. I'm sure the US.. Government can find those 16" guns we took off the battleships to help with the mission in Afghanistan if needed.

I believe the President of the United States needs to make a decison. The General says he needs 40,000 troops, either you send him 40,000 or 80 to 100,000 troops, or just pull out of these wars all together. Only the President of the United States can make this decison.

The Moral levels in Afghanistan must be at the lowest. Our troops need a Commander - in - Chief that will support the mission or get our troops out of there.

Admiral Arleigh Burke once said, "The difference between good officers and great officers, was being able to make a decison." Burke could make a decison in less than 10 seconds, if he can do it...so can President Barack Obama.

Waiting will only cost more American lives, you can't continue going in the past but move foward.


Tennessee, USA
October 8, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

There are none ...and why:

Pakistan is tired of being put in the middle and wants to handle things themselves. The present ruling government wants to control their country as they see fit; but you can bet they will take any American aid fiscally or military hardware. They no longer want or wish to be under U.S. influence. That was made clear by their Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday. You can view it on CSPAN.

Yes, the U.S. provided them with WMD; but, we have a very poor political history with using them as far back as secrete meetings with Arafat, so Israel would not know we were in negotiations with them decades ago. That has been their leverage.

The question of narcotics was not brought up; but, that is a concern as trade routes do go through Pakistan. Perhaps, that is the reason they are not concerned that the Taliban is just 60 miles from their doorstep.

It is like grabbing Jell-O if we cannot sandwich the Taliban and Al Qaida between borders, they know that.

So what does that tell you? More Americans will die, more money will go down the drain; but, if we do nothing both the Taliban and AQ will get stronger and move into Iraq again, perhaps Syria and engage with Iran for a WMD.

It is a paradox which will cost us dearly regardless of which direction we take.

They will let us win an area, rebuild, then attack when our guard is down or we are gone; because, the bottom line is: Afghanistan does not have enough troops, police, resources or population base to prevent it -- today, tomorrow or in the future -- and they full well know it.

We have to be all in or get out...

New York, USA
October 9, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Long Overdue; and a Long Way Down.....

No question USG Development/Stabilization efforts have been fragmented and side-lined....But look closely at the picture...the road to stability and development is a rugged and dangerous one...if security
is not established and maintained; we go over the edge...and it is a long way down..security is only possible when the governance has integrity....otherwise; the projects and resources are diverted...and the good personnel go right over the edge.


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