Maintaining a Focus on Peace while Preparing for War

By Maj. John W. Strickland, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center Public AffairsJune 27, 2022

PKSOI Plays Critical Role in Stabilization and Peace Operations

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With the upcoming release of FM 3-0 Operations, the Army is becoming laser focused on Multidomain Operations and fighting against peer competitors in Large-Scale Combat Operations. But Army experts from the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) also understand that while training warfighting skills is critical to the readiness of the force and safety of our Nation, we need to maintain the ability to conduct stabilization and peace operations across the continuum during competition, crisis, and armed conflict.

“There is a universal understanding of why it is necessary that our Army must be prepared for war, but there is an equally compelling reason why the Army, the Joint Force, and our Allies and Partners must also prepare for peace,” said T.J. Moffatt, PKSOI deputy director.

Allies and Partners around the globe continue to place a high priority on peace and stability operations, with Combatant Commands along with Service Component Commands relying on Stability and Peace Operations as the primary conduit for military-to-military engagement. Stabilization activities are inherently part of every stage along the conflict continuum, and much of the world is plagued with factors leading to fragile states.

“Even during conflict, militaries must address the critical requirements of stabilization as they fight to secure peace and transition back to competition,” Moffatt said. “Success requires a continuous, additional level of military effort far beyond combat to consolidate gains in order to realize the desired political outcome in dynamic post-conflict conditions, and afterwards, to perpetuate and sustain the outcome.”

The nation’s commitment to stability and peacekeeping operations is evidenced through both global commitments and strategy. While the U.S. selectively deploys military personnel to critical positions to enhance the effectiveness of United Nations missions, it remains the largest fiscal contributor to UN peacekeeping operations – investing over $1.5 billion since 2005. In a 2021 bill proposed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, policy makers acknowledged the importance of UN peacekeeping operations stating that they serve as a force multiplier within complex environments. Additionally, these commitments provide a significant cost savings when compared to the deployment of U.S. forces that are primarily trained and equipped for high intensity combat operations.

Reinforcing that perspective, “Two studies indicate that preventing conflict is approximately 25 percent cheaper than trying to resolve it,” Moffatt said.

Executing the Army’s responsibilities as the joint proponent for Peace and Stability Operations, PKSOI serves the joint force by developing and integrating stability and peace capabilities across the U.S. government. Since its inception in 1993, PKSOI has developed the doctrinal base for peacekeeping operations in addition to comprising decades worth of lessons learned from around the globe. Uniquely located at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, home of the U.S. Army War College, PKSOI can rapidly integrate necessary doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) inputs with its access to senior leaders from within the Department of Defense, across the interagency network, and throughout academia.

Recently, PKSOI introduced additional training opportunities for the joint force through the “Introduction to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations” course available through Joint Knowledge Online.

“This course assists all joint, combatant command and component staff members involved in peacekeeping execution,” said COL Jonny Drake, the Peace Operations Division Chief in PKSOI. “It provides a basic knowledge of the United Nations’ history, structure, and organizational components - to include international laws and the legal framework associated with peacekeeping mandates and missions. For those conducting security cooperation with UN troop contributing countries, the course can give them context for the mission their partner nation is training for.”

In 2021 PKSOI, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State (DoS), developed the Joint Inter-agency Stabilization Course (JIASC) which grew out of joint and interagency gaps identified through numerous reports. PKSOI will offer this course again in the Fall of 2022, with additional expertise provided by colleagues representing DoS and USAID.

“The plan is to launch an enhanced version of the JIASC later this year,” Moffatt said. “The revised version already has a high level of interest from the joint force and our interagency partners. Interest is so high that demand has already exceeded the expected capacity.”

PKSOI also serves a vital role informing policy regarding peace and stability operations and is recognized as a bridge for shaping the U.S. Government’s approaches to engaging and building partner capacity. As adversaries like China grow in their ability to compete in the peace and security arena, PKSOI provides critical linkages to support national security objectives and goals. Although some nations are apprehensive to cooperate militarily with the United States, many are more than willing to engage in security cooperation and peacekeeping operations.

Just as conflict seems inevitable and pervasive in some regions of the world, peace and security goals will certainly play a role in future engagements. As the Army prepares to enter a time of strategic competition, organizations like the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute remain as relevant today as they did in previous generations.

“Two years before the end of World War II President Eisenhower knew that true strength meant securing peace and consolidating gains,” Moffatt said. “Ike knew that stabilization, peacekeeping, and large-scale combat operations were not mutually exclusive.”