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DOD Security Assitance and Swine Flu April 30, 2009

Posted by dglaudemans in News.
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Check out these two interesting articles from Inside the Pentagon about DODs role in the Swine Flu crisis and the Army’s new field manual elevating the importance of security assistance in US national security and military objectives. Full text of the articles below the jump.

Inside the Pentagon

Pentagon, Mexican Officials Considered Military Role in Pandemic Outbreak

April 27, 2009 — Motivated by a common concern about a possible North American influenza pandemic, senior Defense Department and Mexican government officials last year conducted a previously unreported two-day exercise to consider how to cooperatively contain a fast-moving, deadly virus — including military support to civilian authorities, according to participants.

“Exercise Partnered Response,” involving executive branch officials from Mexico and the United States and a representative from Canada, was organized by the Pentagon’s policy shop. Participants agreed on the need for a “multinational crisis fusion center” — similar in structure and function to a military joint task force — in the event of a global pandemic.

“We met in San Diego with senior Mexican officials to talk about a whole range of responsibilities — including the military role — in the event of a pandemic outbreak that would span the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Paul McHale, who was then assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and American security affairs and led the U.S. delegation, in a telephone interview today.

“I suspect that in my old office there are some folks pulling out the lessons learned from that symposium and I believe that the topics we then discussed are directly relevant today,” McHale said.

Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, yesterday declared a public health emergency in the United States yesterday in response to the growing number of U.S. individuals who have come down with a version of the swine flu, which has killed at least 149 people in Mexico and which appears to be highly communicable.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Almarah Belk said the Defense Department is monitoring the situation, adding that the U.S. civilian agencies in charge of coordinating a federal response to the health crisis have not asked for military support and that U.S. Northern Command — which is responsible for coordinating a military response — has not requested any forces.

The May 27-28, 2008 exercise included officials from a number of Mexican ministries, including foreign affairs, agriculture and health, as well as Mexican senators and representatives, according to Michael Harwood, deputy director of the Strategic Policy Forum at the National Defense University, which wrote the scenarios for the symposium and helped organize the event.

McHale led the U.S. delegation, which included participants from the departments of State, Labor, Transportation, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

The participants considered actions that would be required of North American governments in response to a flu outbreak in Asia that quickly spread to North America before becoming a global pandemic, Harwood told InsideDefense.com in an interview today.

McHale said that all participants were provided a copy of John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, a best-selling history of the 1918 pandemic that killed millions around the world.

In response to the outbreak of Avian flu five years ago in Asia, the Pentagon in 2006 published the “Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza.” That 86-page plan spells out how the Pentagon will fulfill three key tasks as part of a broader federal government response to a major health crisis.

“The top priority is the protection of DoD forces, comprised of the military, DoD civilians and contractors performing critical roles, as well as the associated resources necessary to maintain readiness,” the report states. “Also, it is critical to ensure DoD is able to sustain mission assurance and the ability to meet our strategic objectives. Priority consideration is also given to protect the health of DoD beneficiaries and dependents.”

The types of capabilities the Defense Department could offer to support civilian authorities include mass transportation for the ill in the event remote medical care is required; “surge” military medical units to remote locations to support civilian authorities; and, if necessary, National Guard forces to assist with the distribution of pharmaceuticals, according to Pentagon officials.

“The Defense Department’s role in responding to a domestic outbreak is, at least at the outset, fairly limited,” McHale said. “The most significant responsibility that the military could take on, largely through the National Guard, would involve logistics duties — if an outbreak became so severe that basic commodities such as food, temporary shelter and pharmaceuticals could not be effectively delivered to a community. I think it’s accurate to say that DOD’s initial role is modest but the contingency missions related to logistics could ultimately prove substantial.” — Jason Sherman

Inside the Pentagon


April 27, 2009 A new Army field manual elevates the importance of security force assistance for the Army and for U.S. national security goals, making the area a “core competency” for the service.

“It is clear that we are stronger when we act with partners in today’s operating environment,” writes Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, in a foreword to the manual. “Therefore, security force assistance is no longer an ‘additional duty.’ It is now a core competency of our Army.”

The field manual — FM 3-07.1 — will be publicly released May 1, but Inside the Army was able to review a draft copy last week. The writing process was accelerated and completed in 90 days to quickly provide needed guidance to forces in theater involved in security force missions (ITA, Feb. 23, p3).

The new doctrine draws on “lessons learned from previous advising efforts and recent combat operations with a view to the future,” according to the document.

Army doctrine defines security force assistance as “the unified action to generate, employ, and sustain local, host-nation, or regional security forces in support of a legitimate authority,” states the manual.

To reinforce the “comprehensive approach” the manual promotes, the doctrine was developed with the help of NATO partners along with army representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, states the document.

“Those conducting SFA must understand that the military instrument of national power is only one part of a comprehensive approach,” states the manual.

Security force assistance should be conducted through collaboration with military, civilian, joint and multinational partners, according to the manual.

The document is designed for the leaders of brigade combat teams conducting security force assistance as well as soldiers assigned advisory roles.

“The two pillars of security force assistance are the modular brigade and Soldiers acting as advisers,” writes Dempsey.

The manual organizes itself around these two themes, with the first half of the document focusing on the brigade combat team and the second half devoted to the individual adviser. Chapter one discusses the strategic context of security force assistance and how it fits into larger national strategy and defense policies.

The concept of a “modular brigade augmented for security force assistance” is introduced in chapter four, laying out the groundwork for “advise and assist” brigades (ITA, April 6, p1).

Key to successful SFA missions are “adaptive units led by well-informed, culturally astute leaders,” writes Dempsey.

The first advise and assist brigade, which is preparing to deploy to Iraq, is undergoing training to improve its members’ language and cultural awareness skills (ITA, April 20, p1).

The manual provides important definitions, including the difference between security force assistance and related missions like foreign internal defense. It also defines foreign security forces, which, in addition to military and paramilitary forces, can include police, intelligence forces, border police, the coast guard, custom officials, prison guards and correctional personnel.

The manual lists six SFA tasks: organize, train, equip, rebuild and build, and advise and assist.

Accompanying security forces on combat operations is not included on this list. The manual states that if U.S. forces are going to accompany foreign security forces on combat operations, it requires a presidential decision.

“U.S. tactical participation in host-nation internal conflicts requires judicious and prudent rules of engagement and guidelines for applying force,” states the manual. “Inappropriate destruction and violence attributed to U.S. forces may easily reduce the legitimacy and sovereignty of the support government.”

The manual stresses the importance of having the right mindset when conducting SFA missions. Dempsey describes this as “leading from behind.”

“Conducting successful security force assistance (SFA) requires a specific mindset,” reads the document. “This mindset focuses on working by, with, and through foreign security forces.”

In the foreword, Dempsey emphasizes the importance of carefully analyzing the operational environment because “every situation and foreign security force is unique.” It is especially important to understand the relationship between a foreign security force and its country’s population, writes Dempsey.

In addition to keeping egos in check and giving priority to the success of one’s partners, advisers also must work to build relationships with their foreign counterparts, according to the manual.

“To be effective, advisers obviously must gain their counterparts’ trust and confidence. This relationship, however, is only a prelude to the adviser’s major objective: inspiring and influencing a counterpart to effective action,” states the document.

In training foreign security forces, as with any successful relationship, empathy is key to understanding the other person, states the manual.

“Empathy can be defined as identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives,” states the document. “This is tough for experienced U.S. leaders and often harder to explain, but it is the key to the success of an advisory mission.”

The manual also explores some of the intense frustrations of the job, including a section on culture shock and advice on how to deal with it.

Unlike more traditional combat operations in which tactical success can be measured, progress in SFA missions “tends to occur at a glacial pace and cannot usually be tracked on a day-to-day basis,” states the document.

However, over the long haul, bolstering the capabilities of foreign partners is intended to strengthen the international system and promote security.

“Security force assistance builds our multinational partners’ capability to defeat regular, irregular, and hybrid threats prevalent in an era of persistent conflict,” writes Dempsey. —Kate Brannen



1. The Week That Was: April 27-May 1 « Budget Insight - May 1, 2009

[…] week, BFAD highlighted items about DOD’s role in combating the swine flu outbreak and security assistance. The […]

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