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Bridge over Troubled Waters: How Armed Nation-Building Spans the Gap between Victory and Stability

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Master's thesis

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The military should be more responsible for nation-building activities until the time when the post-hostility environment allows for the secure and timely transition of authority to the proper civilian components. Accordingly, This paper aims to identify how the military can shape the operational environment prior to and shortly after major combat operations end to limit chances for a power vacuum. The first few months of post-war Iraq clearly indicated the complexity and challenges of stability operations and reconstruction. The post-hostility environment defined the climate for transition of authority and set the conditions for the nation-building process to commence. In Iraq, the Coalition had to defeat insurgents at the same time they set up Iraqi institutions, repaired vital infrastructure, and maintained a sufficient level of popularity among the Iraqi people. The intricate problem though, is that the use of military force and nation-building seem to have a mutually exclusive effect. Irrespective of the methods, the result is likely to be armed nation-building. The presence and number of forces are obviously important factors in decreasing the chances of creating a power vacuum. A secure environment, however, cannot be attained through security operations alone. Even if combat operations are still in progress, some essential governmental and administrative functions must still be carried out. Moreover, results from reconstruction and humanitarian assistance will positively influence the occupied population, earning their trust and confidence while also persuading them from supporting insurgents. Absence of other organizations is likely to occur in an early post-hostility phase. Military forces must be prepared to perform nontraditional military tasks. Although the level of security may be far from perfect, of vital importance is the ability to set the stage for a seamless transition of authority to the subsequent civilian administration.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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