Civil-Military Cooperation: CIMIC in NATO Together we are Strong, Divided we Fall



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Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in post-conflict environments is a practice of long-standing historical significance, but rigorous, outcomes-based research on the topic is relatively rare. Over the millennia of organized warfare, military forces have often been required to engage in certain civilian tasks in post-conflict societies, with responsibilities including building roads, bridges, and residences, as well as providing food, shelter, and medical attention to the local population. Beyond the altruism of such operations, the goals have often been to win the hearts and minds of the local population and to diminish the chances of a resumption of conflict. Local populations need that kind of aid, especially in conflict and post-conflict areas, where war has often devasted most of the infrastructure and local capabilities for self-sufficiency, prosperity and well-being. However, in the rush to address pressing and poignant needs for post-conflict reconstruction, there is often a plethora of military and civilian government organizations (GO), international organizations (IO), and non-governmental organizations (NGO) conducting similar activities, with little or no coordination. This generates inefficiencies and frictions between military components conducting Peace Support Operations (PSO) and their civilian counterparts. Conflict between military and civilian organizations (IOs, NGOs, and GOs) also adversely impacts on the efficacy of the reconstruction programs themselves, denying basic human needs of the local population which often loses the most during a war. In the absence of an overarching PSO management structure and mechanisms for practical cooperation between military and civilian PSO practitioners, individual projects are often not tailored to meet the actual needs of the local population, with projects being executed in the wrong places in an effort to address perceived needs that may not exist or are of low priority. Examples of such well-intentioned but misdirected projects abound, such as schools built in the middle of the jungle where there was a lack of not only teachers but children and building fishponds in mountainous regions where water is scarce. Because of such disconnects, NATO devised Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) doctrine, with the aim of enhancing and formalizing cooperation between military and civilian organizations as they conduct PSO and associated projects. CIMIC focuses on recognizing the roles and missions of the military in PSO and ensuring that both civilian and military elements achieve synergy in reconstruction projects. While noble in intention, CIMIC sometimes founders on the reality that everyone likes coordination, but no one likes to be coordinated. The present research, based on post-conflict recovery in Bosnia, is designed to offer insights on why CIMIC is not more successful and then to offer some possible recommendations on what needs to be done to increase cooperation between NATO military forces and their civilian counterparts in PSO.