Establishing enduring peace in fragile and conflict-affected states requires a coordinated approach, one in which civilian and military agencies consciously collaborate. However, many groups aren’t aware of other organizations’ initiatives, don’t understand their purposes, and fail to synchronize resources—resulting in duplicative, piecemeal efforts, inefficient use of limited resources, and other negative consequences.

USIP’s Work

The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) promotes lasting peace in areas of conflict by implementing a comprehensive approach across government agencies and nongovernmental and international organizations. Through education, convening of working groups, and training, including interactive exercises, USIP makes national and international actors more aware of each other’s efforts and encourages cooperation. Recent work includes:

Conducting Practical Exercises. The Interorganizational Tabletop Exercise (ITX) program employs a distinct framework that allows the civilian and military communities to work together on common issues and challenges.

USIP partners with the Departments of Defense and State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and nongovernmental and international organizations to design and implement each ITX. These exercises:

  • Promote and develop relationships, mutual understanding, knowledge sharing, and cooperation
  • Seek to improve the measurable impact of civilian and military assistance
  • Address specific themes and geographic areas that participants identify as important
  • Facilitate dialogues to build on existing information sharing and coordination
  • Place civilian organizations in the lead role so that the exercises reflect their priorities—a rare feature among the many exercises available to these organizations
  • Collaboratively address hurdles to effective coordination
  • Incorporate presentations, small group work, and simulated scenarios

The strength of the ITX lies in the combined intellect and sincerity of the DoD, interagency, and nongovernmental civilian mission partners who together explore realistic solutions to complex problems. This coalition exemplifies workable, respectful, and productive civilian-military relationships.

Monica Shephard, Vice Director for Joint Force Development, J7 (Pentagon)

Convening with Purpose. USIP inhabits a unique role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding: As an independent, nonpartisan institute, USIP can engender trust on multiple sides of conflicts. Building on this role, the Institute brings together civilian and military practitioners and policymakers to troubleshoot issues identified in the field.

Since 2005, the Civilian-Military Working Group has served as an informal body that examines international humanitarian crises, relief, and recovery. The working group:

  • Convenes experts to build knowledge and share information
  • Advises the crisis response community on policies and procedures
  • Communicates best practices, lessons learned, and emerging issues to policymakers and practitioners
  • Promotes collaboration, serving as a forum for problem solving

Educating Practitioners. USIP has designed and developed a five-day course to increase the knowledge and skills of mid-level practitioners and enhance relations among personnel from different organizations.

The course, “Dealing Effectively with Uncertainty: Civilian Military Relations in Shared Spaces,” is organized around four themes: environment, actors, communication, and leadership. Two central questions guide the curriculum:

  • How can external actors improve efforts to strengthen fragile states and engage across the conflict spectrum (from prevention to recovery)?
  • How can civilian and military practitioners work most effectively in shared, complex environments?

USIP can customize the course to meet each organization’s needs, including conducting shortened forms of the curriculum.

In addition to the course, USIP experts regularly meet with officers from the Senior Service Colleges to discuss civilian-military issues. The Institute also provides pre-deployment education sessions to various branches of the armed services before they deploy to countries experiencing violent conflicts.

The 2016 ITX—Countering Violent Extremism

USIP collaborated with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, and nongovernmental and international organizations to direct an ITX focused on countering violent extremism in the Lake Chad basin.Participants identified successful initiatives, common challenges, and promising opportunities before briefing senior leaders, who asked for continued dialogue to spur concrete recommendations. Their request resulted in working groups focused on policy coordination, analytical frameworks, and knowledge sharing.

Related Publications

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Thursday, April 26, 2018

By: Leanne Erdberg

This testimony covers the following questions: (1) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism within their own national borders; (2) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism regionally and internationally; and, (3) What recommendations can enable future GCC efforts to go beyond eliminating today’s terrorists and prevent terrorism from emerging in the first place?

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations; Violent Extremism

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

By: Osama Gharizi

From Lebanon, Osama Gharizi shares his analysis about the clarity of U.S. objectives after retaliatory missile strikes targeting the Assad regime’s suspected chemical weapons facilities. Gharizi says these strikes sent a signal to Assad and his allies that there are limits to U.S. and coalition intervention in Syria. In turn, these limits strengthen Russia, Turkey, and Iran’s roles as the diplomatic arbiters to negotiate a peace deal. Separately, Gharizi addresses the risks associated with the suggestion of setting up an Arab force in Syria that could create further obscurity in terms of U.S. intent and objectives versus those of Arab countries forming such a force.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations

Ambassador Bill Taylor on the Alleged Russian Use of Chemical Weapons

Ambassador Bill Taylor on the Alleged Russian Use of Chemical Weapons

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

By: William B. Taylor

The alleged Russian use of a chemical weapon against a former Russian spy turned double agent in the United Kingdom led to scores of Russian diplomats being sent packing from the United States and Western Europe. Ambassador Taylor discusses the strong showing of unity among Western nations, and its effect on Russian intelligence gathering efforts and additional U.S. and international economic sanctions.

Civilian-Military Relations

Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers

Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers

Friday, March 9, 2018

As peacekeeping missions continue to evolve to meet the demands of complex conflict environments, skills such as communication, negotiation, and mediation will continue to be critical in meeting the operational demands of modern peacekeeping missions, including protection of civilians (PoC) mandates, which have proliferated in the last decade.

Civilian-Military Relations

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