People understand the role of soldiers in warfare, but in 21st century struggles where economic and political development are determinative, an arborist at the Department of Agriculture and a Commerce Department trade consultant can be powerful contributors to "Unified Action."
"Unified Action" is a rather dry term for a very important concept -- coordinating and synchronizing every "tool of power" America possesses (not just military power) to achieve a political end like winning a war against terrorists who hijack economically and politically fragile nations.
CENTCOM's Coalition Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) is a working model for AFRICOM. When I visited CJTF-HOA's headquarters in Djibouti in 2005, my escort officer, Marine Col. Craig Huddleston, described his job as "waging peace" in a very difficult place plagued by war, poverty, al-Qaida and disease. Poverty may not create international terrorists, but poverty, social turmoil, starvation, lack of infrastructure and weak political systems attract them. Africa and the Horn suffer from all of these afflictions, which is why CJTF-HOA's operations included police training, developmental assistance, intelligence cooperation and medical aid.
The deep challenge of "sustained security" is fostering and reinforcing stable and just economic, political and social systems. This is an incremental strategy. It is also a very smart strategy if Congress and future American presidential administrations have the intelligence and tenacity to support it.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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