Thursday, March 09, 2006

How (and by whom) To Rebuild


School Watchman at Deh Qadzi

Wretchard points out that Robert Kaplan ("The Coming Anarchy" which I had read for my ILE-CC, isn't military education great?) has taken stock of the situation in Iraq (and Afghanistan) . In his Atlantic Monthly (no link - sorry, subscription only) article he wonders if we are seeing the emergence of a new way to turn from externally imposed "nation building" to more of a use of force that allows the forces of order within a nation-state to exert themselves.
Jeff Goldstein asks the natural follow up questions - How? Who will do this? Who will pay for this effort?

Yeah, time for more pondering and musing by Major John...

I had the unique privilege and position to observe (and help in) much of the rebuilding effort in Parwan, Kapisa and Kabul Provinces in Afghanistan. I worked with the USAID rep, a Civil Affairs Brigade sized task force, private aid organizations, Afghans - government and private citizens, US Contractors, the works.

I also was able to manage around a million dollar budget of CERP (Commander's Emergency Response Program). This was a very weighty and humbling experience. Every village wanted or needed something - who do you tell yes? Who do you tell no? Sometimes that really ate at me, and I wished I had millions more dollars to help with.


Well in Qal'eh-ye Uzbashi

Luckily, I (and the US) was not alone. I started to notice more and more how the Japanese were quietly helping with some major improvements - in our zone, primarily the nation-girding highway known as the "Ring Road". The South Koreans came to the party too, and they brought cash.

The Germans helped too - they did good stuff - just sooo slooowly.

I think the answer is to keep the military a large part - but to shift some of the emphasis back to the Department of State. God knows I hope Secretary Rice can change the cocktails and embassy receptions culture into one of people eager to get into the field and get their hands dirty. I have to believe the people who take the Foreign Service Exam want to get out and really help on the ground.

If we take the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq to heart, and remember that we will be called on again to do this very same type of work, we can do this and do this right. I am surprising myself by being more optimistic about this than I imagined I would be. I guess I have seen too many good people working too hard for little to no recognition to believe otherwise.

UPDATE: As usual, somebody in the Army is ahead of me...

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