Mission Revolution: The U.S. Military and Stability Operations

Overview

Defined as operations other than war, stability operations can include peacekeeping activities, population control, and antidrug efforts, and for the entire history of the United States military, they have been considered a dangerous distraction if not an outright drain on combat resources. Yet in 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense reversed its stance on these practices, a dramatic shift in the mission of the armed forces and their role in foreign and domestic affairs. With the elevation of stability and ...

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Mission Revolution: The U.S. Military and Stability Operations

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Overview

Defined as operations other than war, stability operations can include peacekeeping activities, population control, and antidrug efforts, and for the entire history of the United States military, they have been considered a dangerous distraction if not an outright drain on combat resources. Yet in 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense reversed its stance on these practices, a dramatic shift in the mission of the armed forces and their role in foreign and domestic affairs. With the elevation of stability and support operations, the job of the American armed forces is no longer just to win battles but to create a controlled, nonviolent space for political negotiations and accord. Yet rather than produce revolutionary outcomes, stability operations have resulted in a large-scale mission creep with harmful practical and strategic consequences.

Jennifer Morrison Taw examines the military's sudden embrace of stability operations and their implications for American foreign policy and war. Through a detailed examination of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, changes in U.S. military doctrine, adaptations in force preparation, and the political dynamics behind this new stance, Taw connects the preference for stability operations to the far-reaching, overly ambitious American preoccupation with managing international stability. She also shows how domestic politics have reduced civilian agencies' capabilities while fostering an unhealthy overreliance on the military. Introducing new concepts such as securitized instability and institutional privileging, Taw builds a framework for understanding and analyzing this expansion of the responsibilities of the American armed forces in an ever-changing security landscape.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Taw's tightly argued analysis should be of interest to all readers...highly recommended.

Choice

Taw's tightly argued analysis should be of interest to all readers...highly recommended.

Derek Reveron

From CORDS in Vietnam to CERP in Iraq, Taw adeptly illustrates through strategy, policy, and doctrine why stability operations are a key function for the U.S. military. Her conclusions are profound both for the military and foreign policy writ large.

Celeste Ward Gventer

Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding not just how stability operations became a central mission of the U.S. military in recent years, but the serious potential consequences of this development. Jennifer Morrison Taw persuasively shows that it came about through a combination of historical circumstance, a changing strategic environment, domestic organizational politics, and, most worryingly, the creeping 'securitization' of instability. This is an excellent contribution to a critical debate about American foreign policy in the twenty-first century, and it concludes with an urgent and thoughtful warning American strategists and policy makers would be wise to heed.

Nathan Freier

Taw's groundbreaking survey on the 'securitization of instability' and the 'militarization of foreign policy' could not have come at a more important time in U.S. history. The national security community is emerging from the wrenching Iraq-Afghanistan epoch. It needs clear-eyed analysis like Taw's to rationally reorder national priorities and rebalance the instruments of national power. The challenge for U.S. leaders going forward is to secure and institutionalize the past decade's most important innovations in the areas of stability operations and irregular war fighting as a strategic hedge against future challenges while reinvigorating the latent power of routine diplomacy and development. Taw captures this challenge perfectly.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jennifer Morrison Taw is assistant professor at Claremont McKenna College, teaching international relations, security studies, and U.S. foreign policy. She worked for ten years as a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where she focused on counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping. With Steven Spiegel, Kristin Williams, and Elizabeth Matthews, she is the coauthor of World Politics in a New Era, Fourth Edition.

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of AbbreviationsIntroduction. Mission Creep Writ Large: The U.S. Military's Embrace of Stability Operations1. Stability Operations in Context2. Doctrine and Stability Operations3. Practical Adjustments to Achieve Doctrinal Requirements4. Explaining the Military's Mission Revolution5. Implications of Mission Revolution6. A New World Order?NotesBibliographyIndex

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