Organizing the Interaction of Nations Participating in a Multi-national OperationCALL Publication #98-25
Translated by Mr. Robert Love,
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS
The Journal of Slavic Military Studies,
Volume 10, Number 3, September 1997, Frank Cass, London.
Table of Contents
Peace operations under UN aegis have been conducted for nearly fifty years, and improvements are continually made in their conduct, both in overall operation effectiveness and in the planning and execution process. One of the most challenging areas of modern peacekeeping involves increasing an operation's effectiveness through timely insertion of a contingent into the conflict zone. This issue overlaps with the need to optimize further the training process of contingents. Improvement is needed in coordination among the UN structures responsible for a given zone of responsibility, among the civil-miliary components of the participating nations' contingents in this future operation, and between these two groups.
The peacekeeping operations of the last ten years have pointed up a number of important weaknesses in orchestrating interaction, particularly in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and other countries, due to the absence of any optimal mechanism for this purpose within the UN structures themselves.
What real coordination problems currently exist in the UN? First, a primary problem has been the lack of attention afforded to the whole issue of coordination, both in the sense of creating a special coordinating body and in the sense of setting up coordination procedures.
Second, for several good reasons the participating nations cannot themselves take the initiative in this area, not prior to the naming of the necessary leadership and staffs. Initially, the participating nations do not yet know the nature of their missions, the contingent's composition, who their neighbors will be, etc.
Thus, a mechanism should also be developed that would improve coordination, optimizing both the time needed to organize an operation (no longer than one month) and the operation's efficiency (avoiding any deviation from the contingent's missions as spelled out in the UN Security Council Mandate).
What are the current difficulties of modern peacekeeping contingents? The following is a brief list of the some of the most important problems:
1. Lack of knowledge about the harsh procedures for information exchange within the UN.
2. Language problems at the unit-commander level.
3. Unique aspects of the mindsets of the national contingents.
4. Bureaucratic protocol and communications procedures.
5. Lack of any special UN guidelines with formalized interaction documents.
Of course, the political bodies of the UN will be the primary force in defining the nature, goal, missions, methods, duration, and participants of a given peacekeeping operation. In addition, the recommendations and ideas of the UN's military-staff committee structures could also prove extremely valuable. However, immediately after a political decision has been made, a special staff or department for facilitating the interaction, i.e., a coordination staff, should get to work. Its duties would include:
1. Informing all possible operation participants as to the operation's goal, time lines, missions and the participants' role.
2. Sending out survey forms, marked "Urgent," (electronically, if possible) containing questions as to intentions, contingent composition and capabilities, terms of the country's contract with the UN, place and time for contact groups to meet in order to clarify the given information (Appendix A).
3. Dispatching an advance reconnaissance group to the area of the future operation in order to set up a temporary command and control (coordination) point for the advance deployment of contingent units.
After collecting the survey sheets and processing the information they contain, it will obviously be necessary to update somewhat the UN leadership's plan for the operation. As a part of this process, the coordination staff should justify certain requirements for the potential participants, based on the following points:
1. Participants in the operation (a unit or subunit) should:
2. A participant in the operation should not:
It is also important that operation participants inform one another during this period as to their intentions and capabilities, their preferences as to which countries would occupy neighboring zones of responsibility, etc. Such a document might be called a "Statement of Mutual Information," for example.
Two factors comprise the most important criteria for the military-political leadership chosen:
The UN's coordination staff must have standard operating procedures for actions needed during this most responsible period of the operation. The following procedures could be included:
1. A list of the requirements for the interacting groups, including:
2. An "Interaction Planning Chart for the Deployment Phase" showing each stage of the deployment week by week, as well as each participating country's actions at each stage. (This document virtually duplicates a similar one used by the armed forces of most countries in planning "conventional" operations or wars.)
3. A "Technical Coordination Sheet" listing all the most significant technical issues that could help (or hinder) interaction among the national contingents, including the type and characteristics of fuel, lubricants, technical fluids, as well as technical specifications regarding armaments, engineering, communications, medical supply, food, etc. (Appendix E).
4. A document spelling out strict UN prohibitions, i.e., actions that are strictly and categorically forbidden without prior coordination with the UN coordination staff (Appendix F).
5. A brief instruction sheet on the training of liaison teams and on the nature of their work, both for interaction with the UN leadership ("top down") and with neighboring units ("laterally") (Appendix G).
As already mentioned above, interaction inside the UN military contingent is organized by the coordination staff. The military leader of each contingent receives clarification sequentially as he arrives at the location of the operation, or at his base camp. Generally speaking, the personal-contact method is better than the approach of sending documents that define the various interaction issues. The personal method affords a much greater opportunity to answer questions as they arise.
Summing up this section on organizing interaction during the operation planning phase, it is essential to emphasize questions that must be answered for each national contingent prior to the practical local deployment:
This period of the operation presents a special challenge in regard to organizing the interaction. It begins with the arrival of the first national contingent units (including reconnaissance groups or advance command-and-control points) and concludes with the handing over of interaction documents from the UN coordination staff to the commander of the international contingent. This period may take from one to two months, depending on the situation, scope of the operation, geographical region, etc.
The most complicated aspect of this phase is the close coordination of all elements of the arriving troops (combat units, logistics units, military and civilian police, engineering and technical units, finance and admin staffs and media representatives), as well as of the national contingents, which must make optimal use of the capacity of the host country's infrastructure (airfields, ports, train stations, etc.). An Interaction Planning Chart here would include: the advance reconnaissance group, the UN political and military leadership, the military and civilian leadership of the conflict region, the military and civilian leadership of the participating countries, the UN coordination staff and the designated leadership of the operation.
Most difficult is optimal usage of the local infrastructure, avoiding any "mess-ups" that could result in accidents and injuries (e.g., the simultaneous arrival of two or more aircraft, etc.). The dispatcher service, assisted by the coordination office, plays a key role. The coordination office manages the sequencing of the arriving elements of the contingents either to their base locations or assembly areas. A special "Interaction Planning Chart" is prepared for this period.
Next, as the troops become concentrated in the target country, they are distributed according to a plan (that is continuously updated) over their areas/zones of responsibility. Within their own zones, interaction among these troops is only loosely outlined by the coordination staff, with the commanders clarifying and setting forth the specifics in their operations plan and its appendixes.
At approximately this time, i.e., after the completion of the arrival of the participating countries' advance elements, the coordination staff must then transfer to the peacekeeping force commander all of the most important documents relating to the interaction of the individual contingents (Appendix H).
What are the most important goals of the interaction during this period? As always, the primary goal remains the personal and collective safety of personnel, protecting the "image of the UN" as the most authoritative world organization, and preserving the integrity of the UN's material resources that are not the property of the participating countries (light vehicles, computers, communications equipment, etc.). In order to assure that these goals are met, the deployment interaction must be organized, and a planning chart should be used. As mentioned above, most nations' militaries use such a document in planning "conventional" operations, and it is advisable to use such a document here, as well.
Two possible conclusions are suggested here regarding the process of optimizing interaction during a new peacekeeping operation:
Once a decision has been made as to a date for completion of the operation and withdrawal of the military contingent, the coordination staff must immediately develop an appropriate contingent withdrawal plan. After this plan is approved, the coordination staff needs to get busy organizing the interaction during this final phase of the operation.
In deciding the order of departure of the national contingents, a number of factors are considered, the most important of which include:
What additional factors must be considered during the withdrawal phase? The following is a suggested list based on past operations:
The experience of completed UN peacekeeping operations indicates that once the participating countries' national contingents have been evacuated, the UN's liquidation committee needs one to two months in the host area and an additional two to three months at their headquarters in order to complete a full inventory of all property and documentation. Assistance from the coordination staff is also needed in this phase.
The factors involved in making such decisions are not all military ones and lie beyond the scope of this paper. It is only important to know which aspects of the situation will have the greatest effect on the close and effective interaction of the military contingents, an area that is particularly problematic during a "rapid" draw-down, as was the case in Somalia.
2. Designations of Primary Ammunition
|--for light infantry weapons||_______________|
|--for heavy infantry weapons||_______________|
|--for artillery systems||_______________|
|--for armored combat vehicle canons||_______________|
3. Designations of Medical Equipment
|--Blood banks, blood types||_______________|
|--Blood substitutes, rhesus factor||_______________|
4. Food Designations
Actions Prohibited the UN Contingent
Personnel of the national contingents, prior to issue of the commander's operation directive, MAY NOT:
1. Fire for effect, except in self-defense.
2. Lay any type of mines or explosive devices.
3. Take any actions that could be perceived by the local population as a violation of their rights on the part of the UN contingent. The legitimacy of such actions (for example, limiting movement) must be established in written orders and the local population must be publicly notified of such legitimacy.
Instructions for National Contingent Liaison Teams
1. A liaison officer must:
2. In organizing vertical ("up-down") communication, it is essential to:
3. In organizing lateral communications, it is essential to:
Suggested List of Interaction Documents for National Contingents
1. Charts of "top-down" interaction with various sections:
2. Chart of interaction with the political and administrative chain of the UN leadership.
3. Chart of interaction with:
4. Interaction Planning Table.
5. A "Standard Operating Procedures" on interaction.
6. Documents on interaction with local authorities, non-governmental organizations, UN organizations, the media and other affected bodies.
Colonel Anddrei Demurenko was the first Russian officer to study at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS (1992-93). In January of 1995 Colonel Demurenko arrived in Sarajevo, where he assumed the post of chief of staff of the UN's Sarajevo sector. At the time he wrote this article, Colonel Demurenko was serving on the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.