Three leaders of the Missouri National Guard authored an article published in the Military Review this month.
The article says the U.S. is not being as effective as it could be in stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brigadier General Steve Danner, one of the authors, says right now there’s not enough training and organization for stabilization and reconstruction teams before a deployment.
“We do too much on an ad hoc basis, basically we just throw a team together and try to accomplish a mission,” Danner said. “That’s like going out on the playground and you’ve got a bunch of people out there ready to play basketball, and so you just throw a team together and just play right then and there. That kind of pick-up team is not going to be nearly as good as the team that you work with in the league and you practice every day and you prepare, etc, etc.”
He’d like to see the National Guard establish a “civilian reserve corps.” It would allow the military to use American experts for specific tasks.
“Civilians; who might be doctors, nurses, medical personnel, civil engineers, attorneys, mental health specialists. Those who have specific applications that we are short of in the military forces,” Danner said.
The article gave a recent example of a need for an expert on fisheries, when the Guard was able to bring in someone from the Missouri Department of Conservation for a short two-month project. That expert fortunately had a previous reserve affiliation.
“I don’t think that they would have to have prior military experience, they would certainly not have to have the military entrance requirements. It’d be more like a civilian job, where you apply for it, you have your civilian skills and the employers hire based on those skills and the need,” Danner said.
Danner says this is the complete opposite approach to the current “top to bottom” strategy in war efforts.
“Look, let’s start at the village level, let’s start at the town level, let’s start at the provincial level and work our way up so that we gain the support of the people in Afghanistan first. Without that support, I mean we learned that lesson in Vietnam, without the support of the population, you’re not going to be successful,” Danner said.
The article also states that while this is meant to be a solution in the vein of counterinsurgency in the U.S.’s current entanglements, it may also have other long-term applications.
“Since the end of the Cold War we really have not had a new American strategy. And really our precept is that this paper really point to a counterinsurgency strategy which we all talk about, it’s in the news all the time. But it points to a strategy that can handle counterinsurgency and at the same time be a strategy for America for the next 25 years,” Danner said.
He’s not sure how it will be received in Washington.
“We all have to start somewhere, whether Washington listens or not only time will tell. But I will say that I’ve had several meetings at the Pentagon and at National Guard bureau, and I think several others feel the same way,” Danner said.