To watch the streaming video or download verbatim transcripts, follow the link in the See Also box to the right of this screen. A conference paper will be published in Fall 2006.

The Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a conference on the challenges of fostering effective cooperation between military and civilian actors in stabilization and reconstruction operations on June 7, 2006.

Opening remarks
Lee H. Hamilton, President and Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Civil-military relations in the field: challenges and opportunities
Frederick Barton (Chair), Senior Advisor and Co-Director, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Linda Robinson, senior writer, U.S. News and World Report and author, Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
H. Roy Williams, President, Center for Humanitarian Cooperation
Paula Loyd, Civil-Military Affairs Officer, U.N. Mission to Afghanistan

Lessons Learned: implications for policy, decision-making, and establishing best practices
Howard Wolpe (Chair), Director, Africa Program; Director, Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Col. John F. Agoglia, Director, U.S. Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute
Julia Taft, Interim President and CEO, InterAction
Robert M. Perito, Senior Program Officer, Center for Postconflict Peace and Stability Operations, U.S. Institute of Peace

Wrap-up and closing remarks
Howard Wolpe, Director, Africa Program; Director, Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Discussion Summary

Managing military and civilian cooperation has garnered attention in recent years as the U.S. armed forces have taken on a significant role in stabilization and reconstruction missions in various theaters of operations, from Saharan countries in Western Africa to the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Iraq. U.S. military-civilian interaction comes with challenges as well as opportunities, whether in areas of post-conflict instability, longstanding turmoil, or unforeseen crisis (humanitarian or otherwise). Likewise, U.N. missions have had to contend with similar issues, whether in Somalia, Haiti, or Afghanistan.

The UN and U.S. experiences in Somalia are noteworthy because of the overlapping civilian and military missions. While the U.S. experience in Somalia stands as a stark reminder of what can go wrong when competing civilian and military priorities undermine the overall mission, the more recent experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan has been touted as possible model for action elsewhere, such as in Iraq or Haiti. There is still much debate on the effectiveness of civilian and military cooperation in Afghanistan, but the lessons learned there and elsewhere suggest avenues for new thinking on how best to deploy military might effectively in order to boost the work of non-governmental actors in crisis zones or areas of post-conflict instability.

The program brought together decision makers and experts from government, the armed forces, NGOs, academia, and the media to discuss the challenges and opportunities of applying traditional military capabilities to non-traditional stabilization and reconstruction tasks.

Panelists addressed the role of both the military and the NGO community in securing, stabilizing, and rebuilding areas convulsed by turmoil or afflicted by conflict. The discussion centered on the challenges of fostering a secure operating environment for development aid and reconstruction efforts to work effectively.