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Stability Operations Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning' which 
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Report to the Ranking Member, Subcommittee on National Security and 
Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of 
Representatives:

United States Government Accountability Office:

GAO:

May 2007:

Military Operations:

Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Stability Operations Approach and 
Enhance Interagency Planning:

GAO-07-549:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-07-549, a report to the Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and 
Government Reform, House of Representatives

Why GAO Did This Study:

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has frequently been 
involved in stability and/or reconstruction operations that typically 
last 5 to 8 years and surpass combat operations in the cost of human 
lives and dollars. A 2005 presidential directive requires DOD and State 
to integrate stability activities with military contingency plans. GAO 
was asked to address (1) DOD's approach to enhance stability operations 
capabilities, and challenges that have emerged in implementing its 
approach; (2) DOD planning for stability operations and the extent of 
interagency involvement; and (3) the extent to which DOD is applying 
lessons learned in future plans. To address these issues, GAO assessed 
DOD policy and planning documents, reviewed planning efforts at three 
combatant commands, and evaluated DODís use of lessons learned. GAO is 
also conducting a related study of the Department of Stateís efforts to 
lead and coordinate stability operations.

What GAO Found:

DOD has taken several steps to improve planning for stability 
operations, but faces challenges in developing capabilities and 
measures of effectiveness, integrating the contributions of non-DOD 
agencies into military contingency plans, and incorporating lessons 
learned into future plans. These challenges may hinder DODís ability to 
develop sound plans. Since November 2005, the department issued a new 
policy, expanded its military planning guidance, and defined a joint 
operating concept to help guide DOD planning for the next 15Ė20 years. 
These steps reflect a fundamental shift in DODís policy because they 
elevate stability operations as a core mission comparable to combat 
operations and emphasize that military and civilian efforts must be 
integrated. However, DOD has yet to identify and prioritize the full 
range of capabilities needed for stability operations because DOD has 
not provided clear guidance on how and when to accomplish this task. As 
a result, the services are pursuing initiatives to address capability 
shortfalls that may not reflect the comprehensive set of capabilities 
that will be needed by combatant commanders to effectively accomplish 
stability operations in the future. Similarly, DOD has made limited 
progress in developing measures of effectiveness because of weaknesses 
in DODís guidance. DOD is taking steps to develop more comprehensive 
military plans related to stability operations, but it has not 
established adequate mechanisms to facilitate and encourage interagency 
participation in its planning efforts. At the combatant commands, DOD 
has established working groups with representatives from several key 
organizations, but these groups and other outreach efforts by the 
commanders have had limited effect. Three factors cause this limited 
and inconsistent interagency participation in DODís planning process: 
(1) DOD has not provided specific guidance to commanders on how to 
integrate planning with non-DOD organizations, (2) DOD practices 
inhibit sharing of planning information, and (3) DOD and non-DOD 
organizations lack a full understanding of each other's planning 
processes, and non-DOD organizations have had a limited capacity to 
participate in DOD's full range of planning activities. Although DOD 
collects lessons learned from past operations, planners are not 
consistently using this information as they develop future contingency 
plans. At all levels within the department, GAO found that information 
from current and past operations are being captured and incorporated 
into various databases. However, planners are not consistently using 
this information because (1) DODís guidance for incorporating lessons 
into its plans is outdated and does not specifically require planners 
to take this step, (2) accessing lessons-learned databases is 
cumbersome, and (3) the review process does not evaluate the extent to 
which lessons learned are incorporated into specific plans.

What GAO Recommends:

GAO recommends DOD take several actions to improve its approach to 
stability operations and interagency planning. DOD partially agreed 
with GAOís recommendations, but did not specify actions it would take 
to address them. Therefore, GAO recommends Congress require DOD to 
develop an action plan and report annually on its efforts to address 
GAO recommendations.

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-549].

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Janet St. Laurent, (202) 
512-4402 or stlaurentj@gao.gov.

[End of section].

Contents:

Letter:

Results in Brief:

Background:

DOD Has Developed an Approach to Improve Stability Operations 
Capabilities, but Faces Challenges in Identifying Capability Gaps and 
Measures of Effectiveness:

DOD Lacks Adequate Mechanisms to Facilitate Interagency Planning for 
Stability Operations:

Inadequate Guidance, Information Systems, and Processes Contribute to 
Inconsistent Use of Lessons Learned in Stability Operations Planning:

Conclusions:

Recommendations for Executive Action:

Matter for Congressional Consideration:

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

Appendix II: Major Lessons-Learned Themes and Descriptions:

Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Defense:

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments:

Related GAO Reports:

Tables:

Table 1: Selected U.S. Government Responsibilities Related to Stability 
Operations:

Table 2: JIACG Membership at the Central, European, and Pacific 
Commands:

Figures:

Figure 1: Major Mission Elements of Stability, Security, Transition, 
and Reconstruction Operations:

Figure 2: Geographic Combatant Commands' Areas of Responsibility:

Figure 3: Prior and Current Phases of Military Operations:

Figure 4: Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Levels of Military 
Planning:

Abbreviations:

DOD: Department of Defense: 
FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation: 
JIACG: Joint Interagency Coordination Group: 
NSPD: National Security Presidential Directive: 
State: Department of State: 
USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development:

United States Government Accountability Office:

Washington, DC 20548:

May 31, 2007:

The Honorable Christopher Shays: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs: 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: 
House of Representatives:

Dear Mr. Shays:

In the ongoing war on terrorism, the United States government is 
confronting a host of challenges requiring a capability to conduct what 
has been termed stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction 
operations in various countries around the world. The Department of 
Defense (DOD) has defined "stability operations" as an overarching term 
encompassing various military missions, tasks, and activities conducted 
outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of 
national power to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure 
environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency 
infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief.[Footnote 1] 
Since the end of the Cold War, DOD's involvement in stability 
operations activities has been significant, as evidenced by 
reconstruction and transition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, 
humanitarian relief efforts in Pakistan, and security operations in 
Bosnia and Kosovo. DOD's increased role in these types of activities 
has also required it to employ an increasing number of personnel with 
specific skills and capabilities, such as those in civil affairs and 
psychological operations units. This shift in DOD's role was captured 
in The Defense Science Board's 2004 Summer Study on Transition to and 
from Hostilities, which highlighted that since the end of the Cold War, 
the United States has been involved in either a stability or 
reconstruction operation every 18 to 24 months, that these operations 
typically last 5 to 8 years, and that these activities surpass combat 
operations in the cost of human lives and dollars.

In December 2005, President George Bush issued National Security 
Presidential Directive 44 (NSPD-44) which directed U.S. government 
agencies to increase efforts to better coordinate stability operations. 
NSPD 44 also states that, when relevant and appropriate, reconstruction 
and stabilization contingency plans and missions will be coordinated 
with U.S. military contingency plans to ensure harmonization with any 
planned or ongoing U.S. military operations. The Department of State 
(State) and DoD have highlighted that success in stabilization and 
reconstruction efforts will depend heavily upon the ability to develop 
an integrated, interagency approach, and have initiated steps to 
facilitate this shift in focus. But this shift will require cultural 
changes throughout government that will take years or perhaps decades 
to achieve, according to DOD and State officials.

In the near term, DOD's combatant commanders routinely develop a wide 
range of military contingency plans, many of which involve 
consideration of stability operations capabilities. As discussed in 
this report, DOD's military planning efforts are being expanded to 
include actions intended to stabilize regions before conflict develops, 
deliver humanitarian assistance, or provide postconflict reconstruction 
support. In many cases, these actions will require coordination with 
non-DOD organizations, such as State, U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID), and the Department of Justice.

You asked us to examine DOD's capabilities related to stability 
operations, and the extent to which DOD integrates its military 
planning efforts with other government agencies. In response to your 
request, this report addresses (1) DOD's approach to enhance stability 
operations capabilities and challenges that have emerged in 
implementing this approach, (2) DOD military planning for stability 
operations and the extent to which the department's planning mechanisms 
facilitate an interagency approach; and (3) the extent to which DOD is 
applying stability operations-related lessons learned from past 
operations as future plans are developed. As agreed with your office, 
we have additional work underway to address your request to examine the 
Department of State's efforts to lead and coordinate stabilization 
operations in conjunction with DOD, U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID), and other U.S. agencies, and plan to report on 
those issues separately.

To evaluate DOD's approach to enhance stability operations 
capabilities, and the challenges that have emerged in implementing this 
approach, we obtained and analyzed relevant departmentwide polices and 
implementing guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the 
services, and selected combatant commands, and we discussed with each 
organization the challenges that exist in implementing DOD's approach. 
We also discussed DOD's approach with Department of State and USAID 
officials to obtain their perspectives on these issues. Within DOD, we 
analyzed documentation and interviewed officials from the Office of the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the Joint Staff, the services, 
three combatant commands (Central Command, European Command, and 
Pacific Command) and fourteen of their related component commands. To 
evaluate DOD's stability operations planning and the extent to which 
the department's planning mechanisms encourage and facilitate an 
interagency approach, we reviewed relevant DOD guidance and portions of 
selected planning documents that pertain to interagency coordination. 
Our review did not include the planning for ongoing operations in Iraq 
and Afghanistan. We also discussed the planning process and impediments 
to interagency coordination with representatives from non-DOD agencies 
assigned to the combatant commands to gain their perspectives, 
understand the extent to which these agencies are represented, identify 
their roles and responsibilities, and determine the extent to which 
they participate in the DOD planning process. We did not, however, 
assess the extent to which these roles and responsibilities, including 
those of DOD, are appropriate. To determine the extent to which DOD 
planners are applying lessons learned from past operations and 
exercises in planning, we reviewed relevant DOD guidance, discussed 
with DOD officials the consideration of lessons during planning, and 
analyzed information in lessons-learned databases maintained by each 
service and Joint Forces Command, and two non-DOD organizations. With 
the information from both DOD and non-DOD sources, we developed a 
database with over 3,500 individual lessons and observations from 38 
reports or studies, identified strategic-level lessons learned related 
to stability operations using a process of independent coding and 
review, and then grouped the selected lessons into 14 major themes.

We conducted our review from October 2005 through March 2007 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Additional information on our scope and methodology appears in appendix 
I.

Results in Brief:

DOD has developed and continues to evolve an approach to enhance its 
stability operations capabilities, but it has encountered challenges in 
identifying and addressing capability gaps and developing measures of 
effectiveness, which are critical to successfully executing this 
approach. Among the many improvement efforts underway, the department 
has taken three key steps that frame this new approach. Specifically, 
the department (1) formalized a new stability operations policy, DOD 
Directive 3000.05, that elevated stability operations to a core mission 
on par with combat operations, (2) expanded DOD's planning construct to 
more fully address pre-and postconflict operations, and (3) defined a 
new joint operating concept that will serve as a basis for how the 
military will support stabilization, security, transition, and 
reconstruction operations in the next 15 to 20 years. Notwithstanding 
these positive and important steps, however, DOD has encountered 
challenges in identifying stability operations capabilities and 
developing measures of effectiveness--both of which are key tasks 
required by DOD Directive 3000.05 and important steps in performance- 
based management. Specifically, the services are each pursuing efforts 
to improve current capabilities, such as those associated with civil 
affairs and language skills. However, DOD has yet to systematically 
identify and prioritize the full range of needed capabilities because 
DOD has not provided clear guidance, including timeframes for 
completion, on how and when to accomplish these tasks. As a result, the 
services are pursuing initiatives to address capability shortfalls that 
may not reflect the comprehensive set of capabilities that will be 
needed to effectively accomplish stability operations in the future. 
Similarly, DOD has made limited progress in developing measures of 
effectiveness required by DOD Directive 3000.05 because the current 
guidance does not clearly articulate a systematic approach for 
developing measures of effectiveness. Without agreed-upon measures of 
effectiveness, DOD will not be able to assess the extent to which its 
efforts are enhancing stability operations capabilities. We are 
recommending DOD provide more comprehensive guidance, including a clear 
methodology and time frames for completion, to combatant commanders and 
the services on how to identify and prioritize needed capabilities and 
develop measures of effectiveness.

DOD is taking steps to develop more comprehensive military plans to 
address stability operations, but it has not established adequate 
mechanisms to obtain input from other federal agencies to incorporate 
into its planning efforts. Recent changes in national security strategy 
and policies and DOD guidance require State and DOD to integrate 
stabilization and reconstruction plans with military contingency plans 
where relevant and appropriate, and to coordinate those plans with 
relevant government and nongovernment organizations.[Footnote 2] DOD 
has begun taking steps to better coordinate with other U.S. government 
agencies by establishing working groups with representatives from 
several key organizations, such as the Department of State and USAID, 
but these working groups are comprised of liaison officers with limited 
planning experience and training, the representatives are few in 
number, and the representatives do not consistently participate in 
DOD's planning process. In addition, some DOD organizations are 
reaching out to country teams in embassies within their areas of 
responsibility on an ad hoc basis, but this approach can be cumbersome 
because of the large number of countries that may be affected by a 
regional plan. Combatant Commanders have achieved limited interagency 
participation in the development of military plans because: (1) DOD has 
not provided specific guidance to commanders on how to integrate 
planning with non-DOD organizations, (2) DOD practices inhibit the 
appropriate sharing of planning information with non-DOD organizations, 
and (3) DOD and non-DOD organizations lack an understanding of each 
other's planning processes and capabilities, and have different 
planning cultures and capacities. As a result, the overall foundation 
for unity of effort--common understanding of the purpose and concept of 
the operations, coordinated policies and plans, and trust and 
confidence in key participants--in military operations that involve 
stabilization and reconstruction activities is not being established. 
To increase unity of effort in these operations, we are recommending 
the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, 
provide implementation guidance on the mechanisms needed to facilitate 
and encourage interagency participation in the development of military 
plans, develop a process to share planning information with non-DOD 
agencies early in the planning process as appropriate, and orient DOD 
and non-DOD personnel in each agency's planning processes and 
capabilities.

Although DOD has spent considerable time and resources to collect 
lessons learned from past and ongoing operations, DOD planners are not 
consistently using these lessons learned as they develop future 
contingency plans. Department policies and guidance encourage the 
consideration of lessons learned during the planning process, and 
information from current and past operations is being incorporated into 
various databases.[Footnote 3] For example, our analysis of DOD's 
databases identified lessons learned related to the need for (1) the 
military to work more closely with other agencies during stability 
operations, (2) DOD to develop knowledge of other agencies and the 
capabilities they can contribute, and (3) commanders to ensure that 
military sectors during operations correspond with civil geopolitical 
boundaries. However, we found that DOD planners are not using lessons- 
learned information on a consistent basis as plans are developed or 
revised because (1) Joint Staff guidance for incorporating lessons into 
its plans is outdated and does not specifically state that planners are 
required to include lessons learned in the planning process, (2) 
accessing and searching lessons-learned databases is cumbersome, and 
(3) the planning review process does not evaluate the extent to which 
lessons learned are incorporated into specific plans. DOD has recently 
initiated an effort to develop an information system to improve access 
to lessons learned within the department and between non-DOD agencies, 
and although this is a positive step, this effort is in its early 
stages. Moreover, it is not clear how the system will accommodate 
interagency needs, and when it will be fully operational. In addition, 
without a comprehensive and timely approach to improve guidance, 
information systems, and the planning review process, DOD's efforts to 
improve information systems alone may not enable the department to 
fully leverage lessons learned from past operations into its future 
plans, and past mistakes could be repeated. We are recommending that 
DOD update its planning guidance to: (1) direct planners to include 
lessons learned as plans are developed, and (2) require that the plan 
review process include a step to verify lessons learned have been 
considered and adopted as appropriate. We are also recommending that 
DOD include the interagency stakeholders in the development of its new 
lessons-learned information system earlier than currently planned.

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD partially agreed 
with our eight recommendations but did not discuss what specific steps, 
if any, it plans to take to implement our recommendations. (DOD's 
comments appear in their entirety in app. III.) State was also afforded 
an opportunity to comment on this report, but declined to do so. In its 
written comments, DOD highlighted traditional DOD methodologies and 
approaches to developing capabilities, measures of effectiveness, 
coordinating with other agencies, and incorporating lessons learned 
that it believes are adequate to address our recommendations. Although 
DOD is making progress in achieving a greater focus on stability 
operations through its new directive, our report notes it has made 
limited progress in certain areas, such as establishing measures of 
effectiveness, due to the limited guidance provided to DOD components. 
As a result, we continue to believe our recommendations are warranted 
and that DOD should take specific steps to address them. Because it is 
unclear what specific steps, if any, DOD plans to take to implement our 
recommendations we have added a matter for congressional consideration 
suggesting that the Congress require the Secretary of Defense to 
develop an action plan and report annually on the specific steps being 
taken to address our recommendations and the current status of its 
efforts. The report should also identify challenges to achieving an 
integrated interagency approach to stability operations, and potential 
solutions for mitigating those challenges.

Background:

According to DOD's guidance, the immediate goal of stability operations 
often is to provide the local populace with security, restore essential 
services, and meet humanitarian needs. The long-term goal is to help 
develop indigenous capacity for securing essential services, a viable 
market economy, rule of law, democratic institutions, and a robust 
civil society.[Footnote 4] Stability operations include a continuum of 
activities that can occur throughout the spectrum of conflict ranging 
from preconflict stabilization to postconflict reconstruction and 
transition to effective governance. DOD has identified six major 
activities, or major mission elements, that U.S. military forces, 
civilian government agencies, and in many cases multinational partners 
may need to engage in to stabilize an environment and build sustainable 
host-nation capabilities. Figure 1 depicts these major mission elements.

Figure 1: Major Mission Elements of Stability, Security, Transition, 
and Reconstruction Operations:

[See PDF for image]

Source: GAO presentation of DOD information.

[End of figure]

As Figure 1 illustrates, the mission elements, or dimensions, of 
stability operations range from establishing and maintaining a secure 
environment to delivering humanitarian assistance, economic support, 
and establishing effective forms of governance. As shown in the figure, 
DOD envisions one key element--strategic communications--as 
encompassing all of the other five mission elements. DOD guidance 
recognizes that many stability operations are best performed by 
indigenous, foreign, or U.S. civilian professionals and that DOD's 
participation may be in a supporting role. However, this guidance also 
states U.S. military forces shall be prepared to perform all tasks 
necessary to establish or maintain order when civilians cannot do so.

NSPD-44 outlines the major roles and responsibilities throughout the 
government for stability operations, including the responsibilities of 
the National Security Council, State, non-DOD agencies, and DOD. In 
November 2005, DOD issued DOD Directive 3000.05, which established the 
department's overall policy and assigned responsibilities within DOD 
for planning, training, and preparing to conduct and support stability 
operations.[Footnote 5] Table 1 highlights several key responsibilities 
established by NSPD-44 and DOD Directive 3000.05.

Table 1: Selected U.S. Government Responsibilities Related to Stability 
Operations:

Organization: National Security Council[A]; Key Responsibilities: * Co- 
Chair to Policy Coordination Committee established for Reconstruction 
and Stabilization[B]; * Designate lead and supporting responsibilities 
as outlined in National Security Presidential Directive-1[C] for 
stability operations.

Organization: Department of State; Key Responsibilities: * Coordinate 
and lead integrated U.S. Government efforts, involving all U.S. 
departments and agencies with relevant capabilities, to prepare, plan 
for, and conduct stabilization and reconstruction activities; * Develop 
and approve strategies, with respect to U.S. foreign assistance and 
economic cooperation, for reconstruction and stabilization activities 
directed toward foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in 
transition from conflict or civil strife; * Coordinate interagency 
process to identify states at risk of instability, lead interagency 
planning to prevent or mitigate conflict, and develop detailed 
contingency plans for integrated U.S. government reconstruction and 
stabilization efforts for those states and regions and for widely 
applicable scenarios, which are integrated with military contingency 
plans, where appropriate; * Provide U.S. government decision makers 
with detailed options for an integrated response in connection with 
specific reconstruction and stabilization operations; 
* Coordinate U.S. government responses for reconstruction and 
stabilization with the Secretary of Defense to ensure harmonization 
with any planned or ongoing U.S. military operations, including 
peacekeeping missions, at the planning and implementation phases; 
develop guiding precepts and implementation procedures for 
reconstruction and stabilization which, where appropriate, may be 
integrated with military contingency plans and doctrine; * Lead U.S. 
government development of a strong civilian response capability 
including necessary surge capabilities; analyze, formulate, and 
recommend additional authorities, mechanisms, and resources needed to 
ensure that the United States has the civilian reserve and response 
capabilities necessary for stabilization and reconstruction activities 
to respond quickly and effectively; * Resolve relevant policy, program, 
and funding disputes among U.S. government departments and agencies 
with respect to U.S. foreign assistance and foreign economic 
cooperation related to reconstruction and stabilization, consistent 
with Office of Management and Budget's budget and policy coordinating 
functions.

Organization: Other Executive Departments and Agencies; Key 
Responsibilities: * Support stability operations activities and 
requirements with agency resources; * Coordinate with the Department of 
State's Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization during budget 
formulation for relevant reconstruction and stabilization activities 
prior to submission to the Office of Management and Budget and 
Congress, or as required to coordinate reconstruction and stabilization 
activities; * Identify, develop, and provide Department of State's 
Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization with relevant 
information on capabilities and assets; * Identify and develop internal 
capabilities for planning and for resource and program management that 
can be mobilized in response to crises; * Identify within each agency 
current and former agency personnel skilled in crisis response, 
including contract employees, and establish under each agency's 
authorities mechanisms to reassign or reemploy these personnel and 
mobilize associated resources rapidly in response to crises; * Assist 
in identifying situations of concern, developing action and contingency 
plans, responding to crises that occur, assessing lessons learned, and 
undertaking other efforts and initiatives to ensure a coordinated U.S. 
response and effective international reconstruction and stabilization 
efforts.

Organization: Department of Defense; Key Responsibilities: * 
Institutionalize stability operations within DOD and prioritize them 
comparable with combat operations; * Integrate stability operations 
across all DOD activities including doctrine, organizations, training, 
education, exercises, material, leadership, personnel, facilities, and 
planning; * With the Secretary of State, integrate stabilization and 
reconstruction contingency plans with military contingency plans when 
relevant and appropriate; * Develop general framework with the 
Secretary of State to fully coordinate stabilization and reconstruction 
activities and military operations at all levels where appropriate; * 
Provide and seek assistance and advice from the Department of State and 
other U.S. departments and agencies, as appropriate, for developing 
stability operations capabilities; * Develop greater means to help 
build other countries' security capacity quickly to ensure security in 
their own lands or to contribute forces to stability operations 
elsewhere; * Be prepared to perform all necessary tasks to establish or 
maintain order when civilians or other agencies cannot do so; * Lead 
and support the development of military civilian teams to support 
stability operations activities; * Share information with U.S. 
departments and agencies, foreign governments and forces, international 
organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the 
private sector supporting stability operations, consistent with legal 
requirements.

Source: GAO analysis of DOD and non-DOD data.

Note: Data are from NSPD-44 and DOD Directive 3000.05.

[A] In those instances when we refer to the National Security Council 
as it relates to NSPD-44, the directive generally refers to the 
National Security Presidential Directive-1 (NSPD-1), Organization of 
the National Security Council System (Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2001).

[B] National Security Council/Policy Coordination Committees manage the 
development and implementation of national security policies and serve 
as the mechanism for interagency coordination of national security 
policy. They provide policy analysis and ensure timely responses to 
decisions made by the President.

[C] National Security Presidential Directive-1, Organization of the 
National Security Council System (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 13, 2001). 
This directive is issued by the President and establishes policy for 
the organization and membership in the National Security Council to 
advise and assist the President in integrating all aspects of national 
security policy as it affects the United States--domestic, foreign, 
military, intelligence, and economic (in conjunction with the National 
Economic Council [NEC]). The National Security Council system is a 
process to coordinate executive departments and agencies in the 
effective development and implementation of those national security 
policies.

[End of table]

Within DOD, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy is 
responsible for developing stability operations policy options for the 
Secretary of Defense and, according to DOD officials, provides 
oversight for the implementation of DOD's stability operations policy. 
Under DOD Directive 3000.05, the Secretaries of the Military 
Departments and the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, in 
coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, shall each develop stability 
operations capabilities. Commanders of the geographic combatant 
commands through the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, shall identify 
stability operations requirements within their areas of responsibility, 
shown in figure 2. Combatant commands are also directed to engage other 
organizations in stability operations planning, training, and 
exercises, in coordination with the Joint Staff and the Office of 
Policy.

Figure 2: Geographic Combatant Commands' Areas of Responsibility:

[See PDF for image]

Source: GAO presentation of DOD data.

Note: As of October 1, 2006.

[A] The state of Alaska is assigned to the U.S. Northern Command's Area 
of Responsibility. Forces based in Alaska, however, may be assigned to 
multiple commands.

[End of figure]

The department has recently announced that it plans to realign these 
areas of responsibility to establish a new geographic combatant command 
for the continent of Africa. As of February 2007, the details of this 
realignment had not been finalized.

DOD Has Developed an Approach to Improve Stability Operations 
Capabilities, but Faces Challenges in Identifying Capability Gaps and 
Measures of Effectiveness:

DOD has developed and continues to evolve an approach to enhance its 
stability operations capabilities, but it has encountered challenges in 
identifying capability gaps and developing measures of effectiveness, 
which are critical to successfully executing this approach. Among the 
many improvement efforts underway, the department has taken three key 
steps that frame this new approach. Specifically, the department has: 
(1) formalized a new stability operations policy that elevated 
stability operations to a core mission and gave them priority 
comparable to combat operations, and assigned numerous responsibilities 
to DOD organizations, (2) expanded DOD's planning construct to more 
fully address stability operations, and (3) defined a new joint 
operating concept that will serve as a basis for how the military will 
support stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction 
operations in the next 15 to 20 years. However, DOD has made limited 
progress in identifying and prioritizing needed capabilities, and in 
developing measures of effectiveness, which are critical steps required 
by DOD's new directive and important tenets of performance-based 
management. Capability gaps are not being assessed because the 
department has yet to issue adequate guidance on how to conduct these 
assessments or set specific time frames to complete them. Similarly, 
the department has made limited progress in developing measures of 
effectiveness because current guidance does not clearly articulate a 
systematic approach on how to develop measures of effectiveness. 
Without a comprehensive assessment of stability operations capability 
gaps and clear measures of effectiveness, the department may not be 
appropriately prioritizing and developing the needed capabilities, or 
measuring its progress toward achieving these goals.

DOD's Approach to Stability Operations Includes a New Policy, Planning 
Guidance, and a Joint Operating Concept:

In the past 18 months, DOD has taken positive steps to improve 
stability operations capabilities by establishing a new and 
comprehensive policy, planning guidance, and joint operating concept. 
First, in November 2005, DOD published DOD Directive 3000.05, which 
established DOD's stability operations policy and assigned 
responsibilities within the department for planning, training, and 
preparing to conduct and support stability operations. This directive 
reflects a fundamental shift in DOD's policy because it designates 
stability operations as a core mission that shall be given priority 
comparable to combat operations and emphasizes that integrated military 
and civilian efforts are key to successful stability operations 
efforts. According to DOD officials, this publication is intended to 
serve as a catalyst, pushing DOD to develop methods to enhance its own 
capabilities and integrate the capabilities and capacities of the 
defense, diplomatic, and development communities for achieving unity of 
effort in stability operations. The policy emphasizes that integrating 
civilian and military efforts is key to successful stability operations 
and recognizes that stability operations will not always be led by the 
military, and that DOD needs to be prepared to provide support to both 
government and nongovernment organizations when necessary.

The directive assigns responsibility for approximately 115 tasks to 18 
organizations in the department, such as the Under Secretaries for 
Policy and Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the 
Combatant Commanders, and the Secretaries of the Military Departments. 
The directive states that stability operations skills, such as language 
capabilities and regional area expertise, be developed and incorporated 
into professional military education at all levels, and that 
information shall be shared with U.S. departments and agencies, foreign 
governments and forces, international organizations, Nongovernmental 
Organizations, and the members of the private sector supporting 
stability operations, consistent with legal requirements. The policy 
also states that military plans shall address stability operations 
throughout all phases of an operation or plan as appropriate, and that 
stability operations dimensions of military plans be exercised and 
tested, when appropriate, with other U.S. departments and agencies. In 
addition, the directive states that the Under Secretary for Policy 
shall submit a semiannual report developed in coordination with 
responsible DOD components to the Secretary of Defense evaluating the 
department's progress in implementing the directive.

A second step taken by DOD to improve stability operations was to 
broaden its military planning guidance for joint operations to include 
noncombat activities to stabilize countries or regions and prevent 
hostilities; and postcombat activities that emphasize stabilization, 
reconstruction, and transition governance to civil authorities. Figure 
3 illustrates the change in DOD planning guidance.

Figure 3: Prior and Current Phases of Military Operations:

[See PDF for image]

Source: GAO analysis of DOD information. 

[End of figure]

As shown in Figure 3, previous Joint Staff planning guidance considered 
four operational phases, including deter and engage the enemy, seize 
the initiative, conduct decisive operations, and transition to peaceful 
activities. The revised planning guidance now directs consideration of 
six phases of an operation, which include shaping efforts to stabilize 
regions so that conflicts do not develop, and expanding the dimensions 
of stability operations that are needed in more hostile environments 
after conflicts occur.[Footnote 6] This new planning guidance requires 
planners to consider the types of activities that can be conducted to 
help a nation establish a safe and secure environment, eliminating the 
need for armed conflict, and activities to assist a nation in 
establishing security forces and governing mechanisms to transition to 
self-rule. These are also the phases of an operation that will require 
significant unity of effort and close coordination between DOD and 
other federal agencies.

In December 2006, DOD took a third step in outlining its approach to 
stability operations when the Joint Forces Command published the 
Military Support to Stabilization, Security, Transition, and 
Reconstruction Operations Joint Operating Concept[Footnote 7]. This 
operating concept describes how the future Joint Force Commander will 
provide military support to stabilization, security, transition, and 
reconstruction operations within a military campaign in pursuit of 
national strategic objectives in the 2014-2026 time frame. The 
operating concept focuses on the full range of military support that 
the future Joint Force might provide in foreign countries across the 
continuum from peace to crisis and conflict in order to assist a state 
or region that is under severe stress or has collapsed due to either a 
natural or man-made disaster. This publication provides a conceptual 
framework for how future commanders can provide military support in 
foreign countries to a full range of stabilization, security, 
transition, and reconstruction operations, such as:

* assist an existing or new host nation government in providing 
security, essential public services, economic development, and 
governance following the significant degradation or collapse of the 
government's capabilities due to internal failure or as a consequence 
of the destruction and dislocation of a war;

* provide support to stabilize and administer occupied territory and 
care for refugees in major combat operations fought for limited 
objectives that fall short of forcibly changing the adversary regime;

* support a fragile national government that is faltering due to 
serious internal challenges, which include civil unrest, insurgency, 
terrorism and factional conflict;

* assist a stable government that has been struck by a devastating 
natural disaster;

* provide limited security cooperation assistance to a state that is 
facing modest internal challenges; and:

* provide military assistance and training to partner nations that 
increase their capability and capacity to conduct stabilization, 
security, transition, and reconstruction operations at home or abroad.

This publication is intended to complement both policy and planning 
guidance by expanding the understanding of stability operations and by 
providing leaders with a conceptual explanation of the strategic 
considerations, solutions, risks and mitigations, and implications to 
consider when planning a stability operation.

In addition to establishing a new policy, revising planning guidance, 
and developing a new joint operating concept, DOD has taken other 
complementary actions to address stability operations capabilities 
within the department. For example, in order to follow up on 
initiatives identified in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the 
department has published a series of roadmaps on specific topics such 
as Building Partnership Capacity. The Building Partnership Capacity 
Roadmap provides an action plan to meet objectives focused on 
strengthening interagency planning and enhancing both DOD and non-DOD 
capabilities in this area. Another step taken by DOD was to work with 
the Department of State to develop a draft planning guide for other 
federal agencies that is intended to assist these organizations in the 
planning for reconstruction and stabilization operations.[Footnote 8]

DOD Has Encountered Challenges in Identifying and Prioritizing 
Stability Operations Capabilities:

DOD Directive 3000.05 tasked several organizations within the 
department to take specific actions to identify and prioritize 
stability operations capabilities, but the department has made limited 
progress in meeting this goal. Specifically, the directive states that 
the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy shall identify DOD-wide 
stability operations capabilities and recommend priorities to the 
Secretary of Defense. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is 
tasked to identify stability operations capabilities and assess their 
development. The Geographic Combatant Commanders, responsible for 
contingency planning and commanding U.S. forces in their regions, shall 
identify stability operations requirements. Finally, the Secretaries of 
the Military Departments and Commander of U.S. Special Operations 
Command are required to develop the required stability operations 
capabilities and capacity in coordination with the Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Officials from the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy's office 
stated they intended to meet the requirement to identify capabilities 
and recommend priorities to the Secretary of Defense through an 
iterative process known as capability gap assessments. Policy officials 
envisioned that the geographic combatant commands would conduct theater-
specific, scenario-driven assessments of forces and capabilities 
required for contingencies through DOD's planning process. They also 
expected that the geographic commands would compare the planned 
requirements for stability operations with the current available forces 
and military capabilities, and propose remedies for eliminating the 
gaps. DOD officials described the Joint Staff's role as to review each 
of the combatant command assessments and provide guidance, including 
common standards and criteria, to the combatant commands to assist them 
in identifying their requirements. The combatant command requirements 
were then expected to drive each service's development of stability 
operations capabilities and capacity.

As discussed below, as of March 2007, DOD has made limited progress in 
identifying and prioritizing needed capabilities following this 
iterative capability gap assessment process. At the three combatant 
commands that we visited, we found that the identification of stability 
operations requirements was occurring in a fragmented manner. At 
Central Command, officials from the command's assessment branch 
explained that there has been increased emphasis on stability 
operations across the command, especially for nonlethal activities, 
such as civil military operations. Officials explained that 
organizations at the command level routinely conduct capability 
assessments and turn in a list of shortfalls for incorporation into the 
command's consolidated integrated priority list that the Combatant 
Command Commander submits annually to the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff.[Footnote 9] They envision that in the future these lists will 
include stability operations requirement shortfalls. Similarly, in the 
European Command, various organizations are independently conducting 
assessments within their respective areas. For example, within the 
combatant command headquarters, training officials explained that they 
were working on a consolidated and prioritized list of stability 
operations training requirements, while at the Naval component command 
they are evaluating each country within its region to identify the 
specific stability operations requirements for that country. At the 
Pacific Command, officials stated that they had not tasked any of their 
component commands to identify stability operations requirements. 
However, component command officials indicated that capability 
requirements would be identified through routine processes, such as 
DOD's required Joint Quarterly Readiness Review.[Footnote 10]

Notwithstanding the lack of identification of specific requirements 
from combatant commanders, each service is taking some steps to improve 
stability operations capabilities, but each service is using a 
different approach. For example, Marine Corps officials highlighted the 
establishment of a program to improve cultural awareness training, 
increased civil affairs planning in its operational headquarters, and 
the establishment of a Security Cooperation Training Center as key 
efforts to improve stability operations capabilities.[Footnote 11] Navy 
officials highlighted the service efforts to align its strategic plan 
and operations concept to support stability operations, the 
establishment of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, and the 
dedication of Foreign Area Officers to specific countries as their key 
efforts.[Footnote 12] Army officials highlighted the establishment of 
an office dedicated to stability operations policy and strategy, the 
development of Army doctrine related to stability operations, and an 
ongoing process to address gaps in Army stability operations 
capabilities and capacities. Army officials expect to approve an action 
plan by the end of fiscal year 2007 that is intended to provide 
solutions for improving its capabilities to conduct stability 
operations. Air Force officials emphasized the service's use of an 
analytical capabilities-based planning model that has identified and 
begun to address specific shortfalls related to stability operations.

Because of the fragmented efforts being taken by combatant commands to 
identify requirements, and the different approaches taken by the 
services to develop capabilities, the potential exists that the 
department may not be identifying and prioritizing the most critical 
capabilities needed by the combatant commanders, and the Under 
Secretary of Defense for Policy has not been able to recommend 
capability priorities to the Secretary of Defense. The department 
recognizes the importance of successfully completing these capability 
assessments, and in the first semiannual report on stability operations 
to the Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary stated that the 
department has not yet defined the magnitude of DOD's stability 
operations capability deficiencies, and that clarifying the scope of 
these capability gaps continues to be a priority within the 
department.[Footnote 13]

We identified two factors that are limiting DOD's ability to carry out 
the capability gap assessment process envisioned by the Office of 
Policy. First, at the time of our review, DOD had not issued guidance 
or set specific timeframes for the combatant commands to identify 
stability operations capability requirements. Joint Staff officials 
explained that the combatant commanders were expected to identify 
capability requirements based on operational plans, and DOD has not 
issued its 2007 planning guidance to the combatant commanders that 
reflect the new six-phase approach to planning previously discussed in 
this report.[Footnote 14] Joint Staff officials expressed concerns that 
if the combatant commands based their requirements on existing plans 
that have not been updated to reflect new planning guidance, the 
requirements would not reflect the more comprehensive stability 
operations capabilities needed.

A second factor contributing to the limited progress in completing 
capability gap assessments is confusion over how to define stability 
operations. For example, Air Force officials stated in their May 22, 
2006, Stability Operations Self Assessment that the absence of a common 
lexicon for stability operations functions, tasks, and actions results 
in unnecessary confusion and uncertainty when addressing stability 
operations. In March 2007 they reiterated that they still consider this 
lack of a common lexicon an issue in identifying stability operations 
capabilities. Central Command and Pacific Command officials equated 
stability operations with activities conducted under the auspices of 
Theater Security Cooperation, while European Command officials stated 
that stability operations are what they do in every country they have a 
presence. This lack of a clear and consistent definition of stability 
operations has caused confusion across the department about how to 
identify activities that are considered stability operations, and 
commanders have difficulty identifying what the end state is for which 
they need to plan. Officials with DOD's Office of Policy have 
recognized that confusion exists surrounding the definition of 
stability operations, and stated they are taking actions to clarify it. 
For example, Office of Policy officials cited a revised definition of 
stability operations that has been incorporated into DOD's September 
2006 planning guidance discussed previously in this report, and the 
office is considering a more aggressive outreach program that will help 
DOD officials at all levels better understand the definition and 
application of stability operations concepts in identifying and 
addressing capability gaps.[Footnote 15] However, without clear 
guidance on how and when combatant commanders are to develop stability 
operations capability requirements, the combatant commanders and the 
military services may not be able to effectively identify and 
prioritize needed capabilities.

DOD Has Made Limited Progress in Developing Measures of Effectiveness:

Past GAO work on DOD transformation reported the advantages of using 
management tools, such as performance measures, to gauge performance in 
helping organizations successfully manage major transformation 
efforts.[Footnote 16] Good performance measures are an important 
results-oriented management tool that allows DOD to determine the 
extent to which individual goals contribute to progress in achieving 
the overall goal of increasing stability operations capability. GAO's 
previous work highlighted that the elements of a performance measure 
should include a baseline and target; be objective, measurable, 
quantifiable; and include a time frame. Clear, well-developed and 
coordinated performance measures help ensure that stakeholders are held 
responsible and accountable for completing their tasks in a timely 
manner and to an agreed-upon standard. Results-oriented measures 
further ensure that it is not the task itself being evaluated, but 
progress in achieving the intended outcome.

DOD has recognized the need for performance measures to evaluate its 
progress in enhancing stability operations goals and objectives. 
Specifically, DOD Directive 3000.05 requires each organization tasked 
under the directive to develop measures of effectiveness to evaluate 
progress in meeting its goals. According to Office of Policy officials 
the intent for developing measures of effectiveness was to let 
stakeholders take ownership in identifying the metrics and procedures 
for evaluating their assigned tasks. These officials also explained 
that as each organization develops a measure of effectiveness, the 
Office of Policy will review the proposed measure, provide feedback, 
and assist the stakeholders in refining the metrics to ensure that the 
measure is adequate. Policy officials expect that some measures will be 
quantitative, while others will be qualitative. This approach is based 
on the premise that the directive did not intend to place a fixed 
methodology on the stakeholders, would allow development of a process 
that was flexible enough to evolve with future stability operations 
activities and requirements, and would motivate change at the lowest 
level.

Despite this emphasis on developing performance measures, however, as 
of March 2007 we found that limited progress has been made in 
developing measures of effectiveness because of significant confusion 
over how this task should be accomplished, and because of minimal 
guidance provided by the Office of Policy. Specifically, in initial 
discussions with us, the Army had indicated that it was working on an 
Action Plan for Stability Operations, but had placed the process on 
hold pending guidance from DOD. More recently, despite the lack of 
guidance, the Director of the Army's Stability Operations Division told 
us that it is taking steps to finalize the Action Plan for Stability 
Operations and once it is approved will track all of the 
responsibilities outlined in DOD 3000.05 through its Strategic 
Management System. Army officials have also established May 2007 as an 
objective for developing and refining its performance-based metrics. 
Air Force officials explained that they already conduct a biennial 
review of Air Force Concepts of Operations that produces a stability 
operations assessment and that the results of its 2005 review were 
summarized and provided to DOD. Air Force officials indicated that in 
their opinion, this satisfied the requirement to develop performance 
measures for stability operations. As of March 2007, officials from the 
Navy's Office of Strategy and Concepts explained that the Navy has 
begun efforts to implement a stability operations action plan that 
includes developing metrics and measures of effectiveness, but have put 
the process on hold pending metrics guidance from DOD. Similarly, the 
Marine Corps's Action Plan for Stability, Security, Transition, and 
Reconstruction dated February 2007 shows that the Marine Corps is also 
still waiting for additional guidance from DOD on developing measures 
of effectiveness. Within the combatant commands, Pacific Command 
officials explained that they were still waiting for guidance on 
implementing the directive from the Office of Policy and had not tasked 
the component commands with any implementing tasks, including 
developing metrics. At Central Command a policy official told us that 
there had been no development of measures of effectiveness relative to 
the directive. In DOD headquarters, officials in the Office of 
Personnel and Readiness stated that they expected the development of 
measures of effectiveness to be problematic, for both themselves and 
the Office of Policy, and that they were unsure how the measures would 
be developed for their office.

Officials from DOD's office for stability operations stated they are 
aware of the confusion surrounding the development of measures of 
effectiveness and that in the next few months they plan to sponsor a 
workshop to help train individuals on developing measures of 
effectiveness. While these workshops can be a positive step, they will 
only benefit those who participate. Without clear departmentwide 
guidance on how to develop measures of effectiveness and milestones for 
completing them, confusion may continue to exist within the department 
and progress on this important management tool may be significantly 
hindered. Moreover, without central oversight of the process to develop 
measures of effectiveness, including those that address identifying and 
developing stability operations capabilities, the department will be 
limited on its overall ability to gauge progress in achieving stability 
operations goals and objectives.

DOD Lacks Adequate Mechanisms to Facilitate Interagency Planning for 
Stability Operations:

DOD is taking steps to develop more comprehensive plans related to 
stability operations, but it has not established adequate mechanisms to 
facilitate and encourage interagency participation in the development 
of military plans developed by the combatant commanders. Recent 
military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the overall war 
on terrorism, have led to changes in national security and defense 
strategies and an increased governmentwide emphasis on stability 
operations. NSPD-44 states that lead and supporting responsibilities 
for agencies and departments will be designated using the mechanism 
outlined in NSPD-1. In some cases, per NSPD-44, the National Security 
Council may direct the Department of State to lead the development of 
stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction plans for 
specific countries.[Footnote 17] However, the combatant commanders also 
routinely develop a wide range of military plans for potential 
contingencies for which DOD may need to seek input from other agencies 
or organizations. Within the combatant commands where contingency plans 
are developed, the department is either beginning to establish working 
groups or is reaching out to U.S. embassies on an ad hoc basis to 
obtain interagency perspectives. But this approach can be cumbersome, 
does not facilitate interagency participation in the actual planning 
process, and does not include all organizations that may be able to 
contribute to the operation being planned for. Combatant Commanders 
have achieved limited interagency participation in the development of 
military plans because: (1) DOD has not provided specific guidance to 
commanders on how to integrate planning with non-DOD organizations, (2) 
DOD practices inhibit the appropriate sharing of planning information 
with non-DOD organizations, and (3) DOD and non-DOD organizations lack 
an understanding of each other's planning processes and capabilities, 
and have different planning cultures and capacities. As a result, the 
overall foundation for unity of effort in stability operations--common 
understanding of the purpose and concept of the operation, coordinated 
policies and plans, and trust and confidence between key participants-
-is not being achieved.

Interagency Coordination is Necessary at Strategic, Operational and 
Tactical Levels of Planning:

As previously discussed, NSPD-44 states that the Secretary of Defense 
and the Secretary of State will integrate stabilization and 
reconstruction contingency plans with military contingency plans when 
relevant and appropriate and will develop a general framework for fully 
coordinating stabilization and reconstruction activities and military 
operations at all levels where appropriate. DOD Directive 3000.05 has 
placed significant emphasis on the interagency nature of stability 
operations and the need for a coordinated approach to integrate the 
efforts of government and nongovernment organizations. Specifically, 
the Directive requires the geographic combatant commanders to engage 
relevant U.S. departments and agencies, foreign governments and 
security forces, international organizations, nongovernment 
organizations, and members of the private sector in stability 
operations planning, training, and exercising, as appropriate, in 
coordination with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the 
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.[Footnote 18] Beyond this 
directive, combatant commanders also have the overall responsibility to 
plan for a wide range of military operations, such as potential 
military conflicts, other operations to stabilize fragile governments 
or regions, or to respond to unexpected events such as the Tsunami 
relief effort in 2005. As a result, combatant commanders now have an 
expanding responsibility to coordinate these planning efforts with 
representatives from various U.S. agencies, organizations, other 
governments, and the private sector.

Combatant commanders develop military plans focused at three distinct, 
yet overlapping, levels that help commanders at each level visualize a 
logical arrangement of operations, allocate resources, and assign 
tasks. Figure 4 illustrates these levels, and the type of planning that 
occurs in each.

Figure 4: Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Levels of Military 
Planning:

[See PDF for image]

Source: GAO analysis. 

[End of figure] 

As illustrated in figure 4, at the strategic level, planners prepare 
what is known as the supported plan, which describes how a combatant 
commander intends to meet the national or high-level goals for his 
geographical area of responsibility. These plans assign 
responsibilities for specific strategic goals to other organizations 
and subordinate commands, but do not provide the details for how these 
goals will be accomplished. Generally, component commands (Army, Navy, 
Marine Corps, and Air Force forces assigned to the combatant commander) 
prepare operational and tactical level plans, which are intended to 
provide an increasing level of detail and fidelity to the plans and are 
referred to as supporting plans. It is at this level of planning that 
planners develop specific details about actions that will be taken and 
how resources will be applied to achieve the objectives outlined in the 
strategic level plan. At the operational and tactical levels, military 
planners need knowledge of the resources they can rely on from other 
agencies for conducting operations and who will be on the ground that 
they can coordinate with for information and integration of activities.

To achieve a fully integrated strategic, operational, or tactical plan, 
DOD planners require increased knowledge of the roles, 
responsibilities, and capabilities that all agencies and organizations 
can contribute to stabilization efforts. DOD policy officials 
responsible for developing planning guidance have stated that 
interagency planning in military operations can no longer be an 
afterthought, but is critical to realizing U.S. interests in future 
conflicts. We found almost universal agreement between all 
organizations included in our review that there needs to be more 
interagency coordination in planning, and that these coordination 
requirements differ at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels 
of planning. For example, officials agreed that at the strategic level, 
the many organizations that can play a key role in stability operations 
should be present to represent their respective organizations, and that 
those representatives can help facilitate a mutual understanding of the 
overall contributions, capabilities, and capacity of each organization. 
These representatives can also develop a better understanding of DOD 
and the process used to develop military plans. At the operational and 
tactical level, DOD officials agreed that, ideally, they need 
consistent access to interagency personnel from other government 
agencies that have been authorized by their organizations to establish 
coordinating relationships with the military. Specifically, European 
Command officials commented that they would benefit from subject matter 
experts from non-DOD organizations at the operational level who can (1) 
participate in the planning process and (2) increase the probability 
that planned contributions from non-DOD organizations in stability 
operations can actually be provided. Similarly, Pacific Command 
officials stated that to facilitate interagency coordination at the 
operational and tactical levels, several issues such as liaison 
authority, willingness on the part of other agencies to work with DOD, 
and coordinating mechanisms must be addressed. The department has also 
recognized that nongovernmental organizations should participate in 
DOD's planning process, where appropriate.[Footnote 19]

DOD Has Not Achieved Consistent Interagency Participation in the 
Military Planning Process:

DOD has taken steps to establish interagency coordination mechanisms 
and to improve interagency participation in its planning efforts, but 
it has not achieved consistent interagency representation or 
participation at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of 
planning. At the strategic level, DOD's primary mechanism for 
interagency coordination within each combatant command is the Joint 
Interagency Coordination Group (JIACG). As shown in Table 2, the size 
and composition of these groups varied within each combatant command we 
visited, but in general, they have been comprised of a limited number 
of representatives from State, USAID, the Department of Treasury, the 
Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Table 2: JIACG Membership at the Central, European, and Pacific 
Commands:

U.S. Central Command; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): Department 
of Defense (DOD): Military: 41; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): 
Department of Defense (DOD): Civilian: 8; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of State: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Federal Bureau of Investigations: 2; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Drug Enforcement Agency: 1; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Department of Homeland Security: 1; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): Department of the Treasury: 1; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): USAID: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of Transportation: 0.

U.S. European Command; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): Department 
of Defense (DOD): Military: 13; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): 
Department of Defense (DOD): Civilian: 2; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of State: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Federal Bureau of Investigations: 2; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Drug Enforcement Agency: 0; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Department of Homeland Security: 0; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): Department of the Treasury: 1; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): USAID: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of Transportation: 0.

U.S. Pacific Command; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): Department 
of Defense (DOD): Military: 8; JIACG membership (proposed staffing): 
Department of Defense (DOD): Civilian: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of State: 2; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Federal Bureau of Investigations: 1; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Drug Enforcement Agency: 0; JIACG membership 
(proposed staffing): Department of Homeland Security: 0; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): Department of the Treasury: 0; JIACG 
membership (proposed staffing): USAID: 1; JIACG membership (proposed 
staffing): Department of Transportation: 1.

Source: GAO analysis of DOD information.

[End of table]

The organization and functions of the JIACGs are evolving. At the time 
of our review, each JIACG we examined had an overall function to 
improve general coordination between DOD and the agencies represented 
in the group and were not intended to be actively involved in DOD's 
planning efforts. At each command we visited, we found JIACG 
participants served primarily as advisors and liaisons between DOD and 
their parent organizations, had limited planning experience and 
training, and were not consistently engaged in DOD's planning process. 
However, officials commented that the role of the JIACG was changing. 
Specifically, Central Command officials expected that the JIACG within 
their command would begin to assume a more active role in the planning 
process, but they did not have specific details on how or when this 
would occur. At the Pacific Command, the JIACG was being refocused by 
the commander from coordinating counterterrorism activities to more of 
a "full spectrum" approach that would include stability operations 
activities. At the European Command, officials also expected the focus 
of the JIACG would expand from a counterterrorism focus to a fuller 
spectrum of operations, which, in their opinion, could include 
participating in the planning process.

Below the strategic level, at the operational and tactical levels, some 
service component commands are reaching out to country teams in 
embassies within their areas of responsibility on an ad hoc basis to 
obtain interagency perspectives during their planning efforts. But this 
approach can be cumbersome because of the large number of countries 
that may be affected by a regional plan. Generally, component command 
officials we contacted agreed that the primary mechanism available to 
them for interagency coordination was establishing personal 
relationships and direct dealings with country teams and other embassy 
personnel. For example, according to Naval Forces Europe, it is 
developing new contingency plans, and one of its first steps in this 
effort is to identify the key participants and resources available 
within its area of operations and to develop individual relationships 
that will help it accomplish more. In Central Command, both the Army 
and Navy component commands commented that they work directly with the 
embassies in the area of operations in order to interface with other 
agencies.

Limited Guidance, Information Sharing and Training Hinder Interagency 
Participation in the Development of Military Plans:

Combatant Commanders have achieved limited interagency participation in 
the development of military plans because: (1) DOD has not provided 
specific guidance to commanders on how to integrate planning with non- 
DOD organizations, (2) DOD practices inhibit the appropriate sharing of 
planning information with non-DOD organizations, and (3) DOD and non- 
DOD organizations lack an understanding of each other's planning 
processes and capabilities, and non-DOD organizations have limited 
capacity to fully engage in DOD's planning efforts. At each combatant 
command we visited, planners acknowledged the requirement to include 
interagency considerations in planning, as required by recent DOD 
policy. But command officials stated they did not have any guidance on 
how to meet the requirement, or on the specific mechanisms that would 
facilitate interagency planning at the strategic, operational, and 
tactical levels. For example, numerous DOD publications and documents 
discuss the JIACG organizations at each combatant command, but there is 
no published DOD guidance that establishes policy governing the JIACGs 
or that outlines the responsibilities for establishing and managing 
them. Officials from the DOD and State also commented that the JIACG 
organizations were not intended to be a coordinating body for military 
planning, and questioned if this was an appropriate mechanism for 
integrating the planning efforts between DOD and other agencies.

The second factor inhibiting interagency participation is that DOD does 
not have a process in place to facilitate the sharing of planning 
information with non-DOD agencies, when appropriate, early in the 
planning process without specific approval from the Secretary of 
Defense. Specifically, DOD policy officials, including the Deputy 
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations, stated that it 
is the department's policy not to share DOD contingency plans with 
agencies or offices outside of DOD unless directed to do so by the 
Secretary of Defense, who determines if they have a need to know. In 
addition, DOD's planning policies and procedures state that a combatant 
commander, with Secretary of Defense approval, may present interagency 
aspects of his plan to the Joint Staff during the plan approval process 
for transmittal to the National Security Council for interagency 
staffing and plan development. This hierarchical approach limits 
interagency participation as plans are developed by the combatant 
commands at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. State 
officials also told us that DOD's current process for sharing planning 
information limits non-DOD participation in the development of military 
plans, and inviting interagency participation only after the plans have 
been formulated is a significant obstacle to achieving a unified 
government approach in those plans. In their opinion, it is critical to 
include interagency participation in the early stages of plan 
development at the combatant commands.

Additionally, according to combatant command officials, non-DOD 
personnel do not always have the necessary security clearances required 
by DOD for access to the department's planning documents or 
participation in planning sessions. In its recent interim report to the 
Secretary of Defense on DOD Directive 3000.05, DOD acknowledged the 
current challenges in information sharing and predicts that DOD will 
continue to face serious problems concerning the release and sharing of 
information among DOD, other U.S. government agencies, international 
partners, and other nongovernmental organizations. In the report DOD 
attributed information-sharing issues to restrictions based on current 
information-sharing policies and emphasized that to improve information-
sharing capabilities senior leadership direction is required.

The third factor limiting the effectiveness of interagency coordination 
efforts is that DOD and non-DOD organizations lack an understanding of 
each other's planning processes and capabilities, and have different 
planning cultures and capacities. DOD and non-DOD officials repeatedly 
emphasized in their discussions with us the cultural and capacity 
challenges that the two communities face. Within DOD, officials 
discussed a lack of formally trained DOD planners within the combatant 
commands. For example, only two of the six planners at U.S. Army Europe 
were formally trained, and another official noted that it takes a 
planner about a year on the job to become proficient in what is 
generally a 2-year assignment. Even if combatant command planners are 
experienced, they may lack knowledge of interagency processes and 
capabilities. For example, a Pacific Command planner stated that they 
had to guess about interagency capabilities during planning. Senior 
Pacific Command officials cited a need to educate DOD planners on U.S. 
government agencies strengths and weaknesses and where expectations may 
exceed an agency's capabilities. Similarly, European command JIACG 
officials commented that DOD needs to institutionalize the interagency 
education piece at its schools for professional planners, and a 
European Command planner stated that it is essential to understand what 
the various non-DOD agencies do and what they need to know about DOD 
capabilities.

Our analysis of DOD's lessons-learned databases from current and past 
military operations provided details that specifically addressed the 
training differences between DOD and non-DOD agencies and the limited 
knowledge of each other's capabilities. For example, the databases can 
contain lessons learned such as: (1) DOD needs to develop knowledge of 
other agencies and the capabilities they bring to operations, (2) 
significant improvements could be made in military education by the 
development of interagency programs of instruction, and (3) DOD should 
work to aggressively include State in the process of project 
development.[Footnote 20] Furthermore, DOD officials described what 
they believe is a significant difference in the planning cultures of 
DOD and non-DOD organizations. They stated that DOD has a robust 
planning culture that includes extensive training programs, significant 
resources, dedicated personnel, and career positions. Conversely, 
officials from the Joint Staff, the Office of Policy, Joint Forces 
Command, and the combatant commands explained that many agencies 
outside of DOD do not appear to have a similar planning culture and do 
not appear to embrace the detailed planning approach taken by DOD. In 
addition, these officials repeatedly stated that their efforts to 
include non-DOD organizations in planning and exercise efforts has been 
stymied by the limited number of personnel those agencies have 
available to participate. DOD has attempted to mitigate some of these 
challenges by sharing its planning resources to projects such as the 
development of a draft joint planning concept with State, offering DOD 
personnel to provide training to non-DOD organizations, and encouraging 
non-DOD agencies to participate in exercise planning. We did not 
examine the planning capability and capacity of non-DOD organizations 
in this review, but we do have ongoing work that is examining this 
issue in more detail.

The difference in planning between DOD and other U.S. departments and 
agencies was also highlighted in the first semiannual report to the 
Secretary of Defense on stability operations. In that report, the 
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy states, "The difference between 
DOD and other U.S. Departments and Agencies is that DOD plans and 
prepares for current and future operations and other U.S. Departments 
and Agencies plan and prepare for current operations. This is reflected 
in the different planning processes across the U.S. Government and the 
relative spending on training, education, and exercises."[Footnote 21]

Officials from State offered similar perspectives on the planning 
capabilities and capacities of non-DOD organizations. They stated that 
State planning is different from military planning, with State more 
focused on current operations, and less focused on the wide range of 
potential contingency operations that DOD is required to plan for. As a 
result, State does not allocate planning resources in the same way as 
DOD, and therefore does not have a large pool of planners that can be 
deployed to the combatant commands to engage in DOD's planning process. 
These officials agreed, however, that participating in DOD's planning 
efforts as plans are being formulated is necessary to achieve a unified 
government approach in the military plans, and suggested alternative 
methods to accomplish this goal. For example, State officials discussed 
a current initiative to test methods to "virtually" include State 
planners in a DOD contingency planning effort in the European Command 
using electronic communication tools, and stated that State personnel 
could potentially participate in a large number of planning efforts if 
this approach were expanded. State officials also suggested that DOD 
policies may need to be revised to authorize combatant commanders to 
reach back directly to State and other government agencies as plans are 
being developed, instead of through the hierarchical approach through 
the Joint Staff and the National Security Council as previously 
discussed.

Without clear guidance to the combatant commanders on how to establish 
adequate mechanisms to facilitate and encourage interagency 
participation in planning at the strategic, operational, and tactical 
levels of planning, a process to share planning information as plans 
are being developed, and methods to orient and include professional 
planners from key organizations in DOD's planning process, the 
contributions and capabilities of these organizations may not be fully 
integrated into DOD's plans, and a unified government approach may not 
be achieved.

Inadequate Guidance, Information Systems, and Processes Contribute to 
Inconsistent Use of Lessons Learned in Stability Operations Planning:

DOD planners are not consistently using lessons learned from past 
operations as they develop future contingency plans. NSPD-44 and DOD 
policies highlight the importance of incorporating lessons learned into 
operational planning. Lessons learned from current and past operations 
are being captured and incorporated into various databases, but our 
analysis indicates that DOD planners are not using this information on 
a consistent basis as plans are revised or developed. Three factors 
contribute to this inconsistent use of lessons learned in planning: (1) 
DOD's guidance for incorporating lessons learned into plans is outdated 
and does not specifically require planners to include lessons learned 
in the planning process, (2) accessing and searching lessons-learned 
databases is cumbersome, and (3) the planning review process does not 
evaluate the extent to which lessons learned are incorporated into 
specific plans. As a result, DOD is not fully utilizing the results of 
the lessons-learned systems and may repeat past mistakes.

NSPD-44 and DOD guidance stress the importance of incorporating lessons 
learned into operations and planning. Furthermore, the recently 
released Joint Operating Concept for stability operations envisions 
that the Joint Force will implement a continuous learning process that 
incorporates lessons learned into ongoing and future operations through 
constant observation, assessment, application, and adaptation of 
tactics, techniques, and procedures. The Joint Operation Planning and 
Execution System manual, which provides planners with the step by step 
process for planning joint operations, states that a regular review of 
lessons information can alert planners to known pitfalls and successful 
and innovative ideas. Prior GAO work on DOD's lessons learned noted 
that effective guidance and sharing of lessons-learned are key tools to 
institutionalize and facilitate efficient operations, and failure to 
utilize lessons heightens the risk of repeating past mistakes and being 
unable to build on the efficiencies others have developed during past 
operations.[Footnote 22]

Lessons Learned are Being Captured but Not Incorporated into Plans:

DOD has established comprehensive joint lessons learned programs at all 
levels within the department, and lessons learned from exercises and 
operations are being captured. The department's Joint Lessons Learned 
Program is a federation of separate lessons-learned organizations 
embedded within the Joint Staff, combatant commands, the Services and 
Combat Support Agencies that focus upon capturing information, data, 
and lessons based upon each command's priorities. Each lessons-learned 
organization within this program has developed its own processes, 
systems, and information products for capturing, storing, and 
retrieving lessons and observations based upon each organization's 
requirements and resources.

The various organizations in the Joint Lessons Learned Program focus on 
capturing lessons learned at the strategic, operational, and tactical 
levels. These lessons tend to be oriented toward a specific customer 
and are disseminated through a variety of different products. For 
example, the services tend to collect tactical-and operational-level 
lessons that they use to address command and service-specific issues 
for resolution. Similarly, the combatant commands have each developed 
their own theater-specific command-level lessons programs related to 
joint, interagency, and multinational matters and other matters 
involving interoperability. In addition, each organization tailors its 
lessons-learned programs to meet the individual command's requirements 
and available resources. For example, the U.S. Pacific Command's 
program is: managed by one civilian contractor; focuses it efforts on 
issues at the senior command leadership level; and hosts a web-based 
repository that contains approximately 145 lessons documents. In 
contrast, the Center for Army Lessons Learned has 179 people on staff; 
focuses on all levels within the Army from the individual soldier to 
the most senior leaders; uses a combination of active collection 
techniques, such as sending out teams to interview soldiers and observe 
operations; and has an electronic repository consisting of 
approximately 157,000 documents.

Our lessons-learned analysis provides insights into the types of 
lessons available to DOD planners and the volume of information that 
could be useful to improve future stability operations planning. We 
grouped 1,074 lessons into 14 themes that reflect the full spectrum of 
strategic-level issues surrounding stability operations, such as 
cultural sensitivity, language skills, intelligence, communications 
systems, and reconstruction activities. For example, the information in 
one theme we developed related to DOD coordination and planning with 
other U.S. agencies and non-U.S. government organizations highlights 
issues such as the need for (1) the military to work more closely with 
other agencies during stability operations, (2) DOD to develop 
knowledge of other agencies and the capabilities they can contribute, 
and (3) commanders to ensure that military sectors during operations 
correspond with civil geopolitical boundaries. The information in 
another of our themes discussing civil military operations highlights 
issues such as steps needed to improve information operations, and how 
to address cultural differences during information operations to reach 
specific audiences. A comprehensive listing of our themes and an 
explanation for each can be found in appendix II.

Despite the robust lessons-learned gathering process in place, we found 
that DOD planners at the combatant and component commands in our review 
did not consistently incorporate lessons as plans were developed or 
revised. For example, two of the combatant commands that we visited 
stated that they did not routinely use lessons as plans were developed. 
Similarly, we found a range of how lessons learned were used in the 
planning process at the component commands we visited. For example, one 
Central Command component stated that lessons learned were part of the 
component command's planning process, but a Pacific Command component 
commented that it generally did not utilize lessons learned as it 
developed plans.

When we discussed the limited use of lessons learned with officials 
from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, they 
stated that planners are generally aware of the need to check lessons 
learned as they develop plans. However, the officials acknowledged that 
there are barriers to the use of lessons learned, that the existing 
lessons learned systems need updating, and questions do exist on 
whether the information provided by the current systems is adequate. 
One official noted that Office of Policy is developing a new Center for 
Complex Operations, which is envisioned to facilitate the use of 
lessons by acting as a clearinghouse for stability operations 
information. The Center is still in the planning phase, and we were 
told that funding has been requested in the fiscal year 2007 
supplemental budget request and in the fiscal year 2008 budget to 
implement the plan.

Three Factors Contribute to the Inconsistent Use of Lessons Learned in 
Planning:

We identified three factors that contribute to this inconsistent use of 
lessons learned in the planning process. First, the guidance regarding 
lessons learned in the Joint Staff's manual for planning is outdated- 
the relevant section of the manual has not been updated since July 2000 
and does not specifically require planners to include lessons learned 
in the planning process. Specifically, this guidance states that the 
Joint Universal Lessons Learned System should be contacted early in the 
planning process and periodically thereafter to obtain specific 
practical lessons in all areas of planning and execution based on 
actual operation and exercise occurrences.[Footnote 23] However, this 
system does not exist and has not been supported since 1997, nor does 
the update reference an existing system that planners can access for 
joint lessons learned.

The second factor contributing to limited use of lessons learned in the 
planning process is that accessing and searching lessons-learned 
databases is cumbersome. For example, to conduct our analysis of DOD 
lessons learned, we used five databases--four managed by each of the 
services, and one managed by the Joint Center for Operational Analysis. 
To obtain lessons-learned information from these sources, we had to: 
separately access each database, become familiar with each system's 
functionality and search engines; repeat the same searches in each site 
for stability operations-related terms; and review the results to find 
relevant lessons. However, knowing how to navigate and search each of 
the lessons-learned systems is not enough. We also had to familiarize 
ourselves with and sort through the multitude of products generated to 
find lessons that were applicable to our analysis. Planners we 
contacted also told us they considered the databases difficult and time-
consuming to use. One combatant command official described the 
magnitude of the challenge by noting that there is so much information 
within the program that the biggest difficulty is turning the 
information into usable knowledge. Additionally, the Joint Staff has 
acknowledged that the current system is inefficient and of limited 
effectiveness in sharing lessons-learned data.

In an effort to address these issues, DOD has recently initiated an 
effort to develop a Joint Lessons Learned Information System, which is 
intended to standardize the collection, management, dissemination and 
tracking of observations and lessons. The department is in the early 
stages of developing this system, and plans that the system will 
establish interoperable lessons databases that can be searched with an 
easy-to-use search engine. The Joint Lessons Learned Information System 
development strategy includes non-DOD agencies, and eventually non-U.S. 
partners. However, while Joint Staff officials recognize the need for 
stakeholder input to avoid continued inefficiency and limited 
effectiveness in sharing lessons learned, they do not plan to include 
non-DOD organizations until the later stages of the program's 
development.

The third factor affecting the use of lessons learned is that the 
planning review process does not evaluate the extent to which lessons 
learned are incorporated into specific plans. During discussions with 
planners at the various commands, we found no evidence of a formal 
mechanism to verify that lessons were considered in plan development. 
Furthermore we found conflicting views as to the need for a formal 
requirement. For example, one combatant command planner believed that, 
despite the lack of a formal mechanism, the command's vetting process 
for plans ensured that lessons would be incorporated, while at another 
combatant command a planner stated that mechanisms for ensuring that 
lessons are used in planning is broken because there is no formal 
requirement to utilize lessons in plan development.

DOD has invested substantial resources to develop systems that capture 
lessons from exercises, experiments, and operations, with the intent of 
using these lessons to improve efficiency. However, in the case of 
planning, the department has not developed mechanisms to ensure that 
they are taking advantage of this resource. As a result, DOD heightens 
its risk of either repeating past mistakes or being unable to build on 
the efficiencies developed during past operations as it plans for 
future operations.

Conclusions:

The DOD has a critical role in supporting a new national policy to 
improve stability operations capabilities and to achieve a more unified 
governmentwide approach to this demanding and important mission. Recent 
operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, along with current operations in 
Afghanistan and Iraq provide daily reminders of how complex and 
difficult these missions are. The department has developed an approach 
to improve its ability to execute stability operations, but it has 
achieved limited progress in two key areas--identifying needed 
capabilities, and developing measures of effectiveness--that are 
critical to successfully executing this approach. Without clear 
guidance on how and when combatant commanders are to develop stability 
operations capability requirements, the capabilities needed to conduct 
stability operations may not be fully developed or current service 
efforts to enhance capabilities may not be addressing the most critical 
needs of the commanders. Similarly, without clear departmentwide 
guidance on how to develop measures of effectiveness and milestones for 
completing them, confusion may continue to exist within the department, 
and progress on this important management tool may be significantly 
hindered.

DOD has recognized the need to achieve greater interagency 
participation in the development of military plans, but it has not 
established an effective mechanism to accomplish this goal. A 
governmentwide approach to stability operations is dependent upon an 
integrated planning effort of all organizations involved in them. 
Integrated planning can help fully leverage the capabilities, 
contributions, and capacity of each organization, and increase the 
potential for successful operations. The challenge now facing the 
department is how to modify its planning approach to better integrate 
non-DOD organizations into all levels--strategic, operational, and 
tactical--of planning and to support State as the lead agency in 
stability operations planning. Without improved guidance to military 
commanders on the mechanisms that are needed to facilitate interagency 
planning, an approach to appropriately share planning information with 
non-DOD organizations as plans are developed, and steps for overcoming 
differences in planning culture and training and capacities among the 
affected agencies, integrated interagency planning for stability 
operations may continue to be stymied.

The consideration of lessons learned from past operations as new plans 
are developed is not only a requirement stipulated by new stability 
operations guidance, it is a requisite step to reducing the potential 
that past mistakes will be repeated in future operations. Without clear 
and complete guidance for planners, steps to increase the potential 
that information system improvements will facilitate sharing of lessons 
learned both within DOD and between all organizations that will 
participate in planning for stability operations, and a focus on 
lessons learned as plans are reviewed, the potential gains that can be 
achieved through systematic consideration of lessons learned as future 
plans are developed may not be realized.

Recommendations for Executive Action:

To meet the goals of identifying and developing stability operations 
capabilities and for developing tools to evaluate progress in achieving 
these goals, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to take the following two actions:

* Provide comprehensive guidance, including a clear methodology and 
time frames for completion, to the combatant commanders and the 
services on how to identify and address stability operations capability 
gaps.

* Provide comprehensive guidance to DOD organizations on how to develop 
measures of effectiveness as directed by DOD Directive 3000.05, 
including those measures related to identifying and developing 
stability operations capabilities.

To achieve greater interagency participation in the development of 
military plans that include stability operations, and increase the 
potential for unity of effort as those operations are executed, we 
recommend that the Secretary of Defense in coordination with the 
Secretary of State take the following three actions:

* Provide specific implementation guidance to combatant and component 
commanders on the mechanisms that are needed to facilitate and 
encourage interagency participation in the development of military 
plans that include stability operations-related activities.

* Develop a process to share planning information with the interagency 
representatives early in the planning process.

* Develop an approach to overcome differences in planning culture, 
training, and capacities among the affected agencies.

To more fully incorporate lessons learned in the planning process, we 
recommend the Secretary of Defense direct the Chairman of the Joint 
Chief's of Staff working with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to 
take the following actions:

* Update the current planning guidance to:

* direct military planners to include lessons learned as they develop 
plans, and:

* require that the plan review process include a step to verify that 
lessons learned have been considered and adopted as appropriate.

* Include non-DOD stakeholders in the development of the Joint Lessons 
Learned Information System at an earlier point than currently planned.

Matter for Congressional Consideration:

Because it is unclear what specific steps, if any, DOD plans to take to 
implement our recommendations, the Congress should consider requiring 
the Secretary of Defense to develop an action plan and report annually 
to the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on 
Armed Services on the specific steps being taken and current status of 
its efforts to (1) identify and prioritize needed stability operations 
capabilities, (2) develop measures of effectiveness to evaluate 
progress in achieving these capabilities, (3) achieve greater 
interagency participation in the development of military plans, and (4) 
fully incorporate lessons learned in the planning process. The 
Secretary's report should also identify challenges to achieving an 
integrated, interagency approach to stability operations, and potential 
solutions for mitigating those challenges.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD partially agreed 
with our eight recommendations but did not discuss what specific steps, 
if any, it plans to take to implement our recommendations. (DOD's 
comments appear in their entirety in app. III.) State was also afforded 
an opportunity to comment on this report, but declined to do so. In its 
written comments, DOD highlighted traditional DOD methodologies and 
approaches to developing capabilities, measures of effectiveness, 
coordinating with other agencies and incorporating lessons learned that 
it believes are adequate to address our recommendations. Although DOD 
is making progress in achieving a greater focus on stability operations 
through its new directive, our report notes it has made limited 
progress in certain areas, such as establishing measures of 
effectiveness, due to the limited guidance provided to DOD components. 
As a result, we continue to believe our recommendations are warranted 
and that DOD should take specific steps to address them. Because it is 
unclear what specific steps, if any, DOD plans to take to implement our 
recommendations, we have added a matter for congressional consideration 
suggesting that the Congress require the Secretary of Defense to 
develop an action plan and report annually on the specific steps being 
taken to address our recommendations and the current status of its 
efforts. The report should also identify challenges to achieving an 
integrated interagency approach to stability operations, and potential 
solutions for mitigating those challenges.

DOD provided three overall comments to the report. First, DOD commented 
that GAO began the field work for this report in October 2005, one 
month prior to the issuance of DOD Directive 3000.05, and observed that 
much of our field work was therefore conducted prior to activities DOD 
undertook to implement the directive. The department is mistaken in 
this observation. In October, 2005, we held our entrance conference 
with DOD officials, but conducted the majority of our field work from 
January 2006 through March 2007. We believe the timing of our field 
work enabled us to focus on the approach DOD was taking to implement 
the directive, observe how key organizations began implementing this 
approach over a 1-year period, and highlight impediments that may 
impair DOD's ability to achieve the results intended by the directive-
-improved stability operations capabilities. Therefore, we believe our 
work and related recommendations are particularly relevant and 
important because they address systemic issues associated with DOD's 
approach and could assist DOD organizations tasked with implementing 
the new directive.

Second, DOD commented that our report is directed exclusively at DOD; 
that stability, security, transition, and reconstruction activities are 
inherently interagency in nature; and that DOD can only implement 
recommendations under its purview. While we agree that stability 
operations are inherently interagency in nature, we disagree that our 
work is focused exclusively on DOD. Specifically, our audit work 
included discussions with State and USAID officials in Washington, 
D.C., and at each of the combatant commands included in our review to 
gain their views and perspectives. We have also included 
recommendations to improve interagency participation in the development 
of military plans that are directed to the Secretary of Defense because 
the military planning process is conducted under the purview of the 
Secretary of Defense. However, acknowledging that interagency 
participation in DOD planning cannot be forced, we are recommending the 
Secretary of Defense coordinate with the Secretary of State to 
implement these recommendations. Furthermore, as we discussed with DOD 
officials during the course of our review and stated in this report, we 
have other work underway to evaluate State's efforts to lead and 
coordinate stabilization operations in conjunction with other U.S. 
agencies, and plan to report on those issues separately.

Third, DOD commented that the identification and development of 
stability, security, transition, and reconstruction operations 
capabilities are not so different from other DOD capabilities that they 
require a new or separate methodology to identify and develop military 
capabilities and plans. We disagree. As we discuss in this report, DOD 
has made limited progress in identifying and prioritizing needed 
capabilities, the identification of stability operations requirements 
was occurring in a fragmented manner, and each service is using a 
different approach to improve stability operations capabilities. To 
date, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy has not identified and 
prioritized needed stability operations capabilities and military plans 
do not fully reflect an integrated, interagency approach to stability 
operations. Therefore, we continue to believe that our recommendations 
in these areas are still warranted, as discussed below.

Regarding our recommendation that DOD provide comprehensive guidance, 
including a clear methodology and time frames for completion, to 
combatant commanders and the services on how to identify and address 
stability operations capability gaps, DOD stated that existing, 
mandated capability assessment methodologies already effectively 
address stability, security, transition, and reconstruction operations 
capability needs at the combatant commands and the services. It also 
stated that under this process, the combatant commands assess and 
communicate to DOD the capabilities required to conduct these missions 
just as they do for other assigned missions. However, as discussed in 
this report, we found that the combatant commands included in our 
review had made limited progress in identifying stability operations 
requirements because DOD had not issued guidance or set specific time 
frames to complete this task, and there was confusion over how to 
define stability operations. During the course of our work, DOD refined 
the definition of stability operations, which was a positive step, but 
has not clarified the guidance or set specific time frames for 
identifying stability operations requirements. Because combatant 
command officials indicated to us that the absence of guidance and 
timeframes was a significant contributor to the lack of progress in 
developing requirements, we believe our recommendation would assist the 
department in accomplishing this task.

In response to our recommendation that DOD provide comprehensive 
guidance to DOD organizations on how to develop measures of 
effectiveness, the department stated that it already develops measures 
of effectiveness in general, and a special process is not needed for 
stability operations. We believe this response is not consistent with 
DOD Directive 3000.05, which requires each organization tasked under 
the directive to develop measures of effectiveness that evaluate 
progress in meeting their respective goals listed in the directive. In 
addition, as discussed in this report, and as acknowledged by officials 
from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) in a 
progress report to the Secretary of Defense, the department has made 
limited progress in developing measures of effectiveness related to 
stability operations. We found this limited progress was caused by 
significant confusion over how this task should be accomplished, and 
because minimal guidance was provided by the office of Policy. The 
department recognizes this confusion exits, and as discussed in this 
report plans to establish workshops to assist organizations in these 
efforts. We believe this is a positive step that should be complemented 
with improved guidance that would be available to all organizations 
tasked with this responsibility, and therefore continue to believe our 
recommendation is appropriate and necessary.

In response to our recommendations that DOD coordinate with State and 
provide specific implementation guidance to the combatant and component 
commanders on the mechanisms needed to facilitate and encourage 
interagency participation in the development of military plans, and 
that the two departments develop a process to share planning 
information, DOD provided the same response to both recommendations. 
The department believes that National Security Presidential Directive 
44 should, by itself, provide sufficient direction on the structures 
needed and a process to share planning information. The department also 
stated it would continue to include other agencies in planning and 
exercising for stability operations. We believe the department's 
response is inadequate because NSPD-44 is a high-level directive that 
sets forth goals for improved interagency participation in stability 
operations, but does not contain details on mechanisms to achieve those 
goals. During the course of our review we received consistent comments 
from DOD and State officials that it is clear interagency participation 
in DOD planning is needed, but it is very unclear to as to how to 
accomplish this goal. Therefore, as detailed in this report, we found 
that interagency participation in the development of military plans at 
the strategic, operational, and tactical levels was very limited in 
every command included in our review in part because DOD's guidance did 
not provide details on how to engage relevant agencies in planning or 
on the specific mechanisms that would facilitate interagency planning, 
and because DOD practices inhibit the appropriate sharing of planning 
information. Combatant command officials cited significant limitations 
in current coordinating groups, and various ad hoc methods were in 
place to gain interagency perspectives on DOD planning efforts. State 
officials were concerned that DOD practices limit the appropriate 
sharing of DOD planning information as plans are developed, and it 
therefore had minimal impact as plans are being constructed. These 
fundamental and systemic issues will not be resolved with the guidance 
provided by NSPD-44. We continue to believe that systemic solutions are 
needed and can be achieved with improved guidance and more effective 
processes to appropriately share planning information with interagency 
representatives.

In response to our recommendation that DOD, in coordination with State, 
develop an approach to overcome differences in planning culture, 
training, and capacities among the affected agencies, DOD stated that 
it will continue to work to understand and accommodate differences in 
these areas, offer non-DOD organizations opportunities to participate 
in DOD training courses, and detail DOD personnel to other agencies. We 
believe these are positive steps and agree DOD should continue to 
pursue them. However, our work indicates that these measures are not 
adequate to fully address the magnitude of differences in the planning 
culture and capacity between DOD and other agencies. As discussed in 
this report, State officials believe that new and innovative practices 
need to be identified and pursued, such as "virtual" collaborative 
planning between DOD and State. Therefore, we continue to believe that 
our recommendation for DOD and State to work together to develop more 
comprehensive and innovative solutions to overcome these differences is 
an important and necessary step to take.

In response to our recommendations that DOD update its current planning 
guidance to direct military planners to include lessons learned as they 
develop plans, and to update current planning guidance to require that 
the plan review process include a step to verify that lessons learned 
have been considered and adopted as appropriate, DOD stated that the 
current planning methodology takes into account lessons learned when 
constructing or modifying a plan. As discussed in our report, this is 
not always the case. In the course of our field work, we found sporadic 
use of lessons learned in the planning process and a lack of formal 
guidance directing consideration of lessons learned in both 
constructing and in reviewing plans. According to DOD, taking lessons 
learned into account during planning is at the heart of all effective 
military (or nonmilitary) planning. However, the Joint Staff's manual 
on the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System encourages, but 
does not direct planners to review lessons learned as they develop 
plans. We agree that lessons learned are being used by planners, but 
inconsistently. As a result we believe that our recommendations should 
be implemented in order to increase the potential that lessons are 
actually incorporated into plans as appropriate.

In response to our recommendation that DOD include non-DOD stakeholders 
in the development of the Joint Lessons Learned Information System at 
an earlier point than currently planned, DOD agreed to invite 
stakeholders to participate in the system at an earlier stage, but 
expressed concerns that these stakeholders face shortfalls in capacity 
and resources and therefore cannot ensure their interactive 
participation. We believe this is a positive step and responsive to our 
recommendation.

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking 
Minority Members, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign 
Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. We are also 
sending a copy to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the 
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and 
Low Intensity Conflict, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and 
officials in the U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. 
Pacific Command. We will also make copies available to other interested 
parties upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have questions about this report, please contact 
me at (202) 512-4402 or by e-mail at stlaurentj@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made key 
contributions to this report are listed in appendix IV.

Sincerely yours,

Signed by: 

Janet A. St. Laurent: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management:

[End of section]

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

To evaluate the Department of Defense's approach to improving stability 
operations and DOD's identification of stability operations 
capabilities and development of performance measures we obtained and 
analyzed DOD Directive 3000.05, National Security Presidential 
Directive 44, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Building Partnership 
Capacity Roadmap, the Military Support to Stabilization, Security, 
Transition, and Reconstruction Operation Joint Operating Concept, and 
the Defense Science Board studies on Institutionalizing Stability 
Operations within DOD. We interviewed current and former officials at 
the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the Joint 
Staff and Services, three Regional Combatant Commands (European 
Command, Pacific Command, and Central Command), and U.S. Joint Forces 
Command. In these interviews we reviewed relevant information and 
discussed implementing guidance for completing responsibilities 
outlined in the Directive, the interviewees' understanding of their 
roles and responsibilities in completing assigned tasks, progress in 
implementing the Directive, challenges that have been encountered, and 
input provided for the first report to the Secretary of Defense on 
implementing the Directive. Finally, we reviewed the first report to 
the Secretary of Defense and discussed the report's findings with 
officials within the Office of the Under Secretary for Policy.

To identify the extent to which DOD is planning for stability 
operations and whether the department's planning mechanisms encourage 
and facilitate consideration of non-DOD capabilities, we reviewed and 
analyzed NSPD-44, DOD Directive 3000.05, joint planning guidance and 
manuals, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Building Partnership 
Capacity Roadmap, and combatant command processes. We interviewed 
officials at the Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for 
Reconstruction and Stabilization, the Bureau of Political Military 
Affairs, and the United States Agency for International Development to 
obtain other agencies' perspectives regarding DOD's planning process 
and the inclusion of non-DOD perspectives in contingency plans. To 
understand DOD's planning process, mechanisms for interagency 
involvement in planning, and impediments to interagency coordination, 
we met with representatives from the Office of the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Policy as well as planners from three regional combatant 
commands, which included the Pacific, European, and Central commands, 
members of each combatant command's Joint Interagency Coordination 
Group, and fourteen combatant command component commands responsible 
for contingency operation planning. We also reviewed examples of 
interagency coordination contingency planning documents to gain an 
understanding of the level of detail to which the commands planned 
coordination efforts. We did not, however, assess the extent to which 
these roles and responsibilities, including those of DOD, are 
appropriate. Our review did not include the planning for ongoing 
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD's contingency plans are 
classified documents and a complete review of the contingency plans was 
beyond the scope of this audit, and as a result we did not develop a 
comprehensive list of documents to draw a representative sample of 
contingency planning documents related to interagency coordination. 
However, we worked with combatant command officials to identify 
examples of planning documents related to interagency coordination and 
the level of detail to which the commands planned coordination with 
other agencies. We did not include in our review any current or planned 
coordination between DOD and non-U.S.-government organizations, foreign 
governments, or international organizations.

To determine the extent to which DOD planners are applying lessons 
learned from past operations and exercises we reviewed relevant DOD 
guidance, and discussed with DOD officials their consideration of 
lessons learned during planning. In order to understand the 
requirements for utilizing lessons learned in the planning process and 
the purpose and scope of the Joint Lessons Learned Program, we analyzed 
DOD's planning guidance and manuals, lessons learned instructions for 
the Joint Lessons Learned Program, and the services' lessons learned 
guidance.

To assess the type and extent of strategic stability operations lessons 
learned available, we identified organizations that produced studies or 
reports that included lessons learned relevant to stability operations, 
both within and outside DOD. To identify strategic level lessons within 
DOD's Joint Lessons Learned Program, we obtained access to the four 
armed services lessons learned databases (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and 
Air Force), the Joint Center for Operational Analysis, and obtained 
stability operations studies from the Defense Science Board. In order 
to identify relevant non-DOD organizations conducting lessons-learned 
research, we contacted individuals identified as subject matter experts 
in stability operations and asked them to identify non-DOD agencies 
that published reports and studies regarding stability operations that 
they recognized as being leaders in the field. In this manner, several 
non-DOD organizations were identified, including the Center for 
Strategic and International Studies and the United States Institute of 
Peace. After obtaining search results from the DOD lessons-learned 
databases and non-DOD organizations, we reviewed the materials and 
selected analytical products for further examination based upon whether 
the report or study included original data collection and analysis 
related to the conduct of stability and reconstruction in Operations 
Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or the operations of the Joint Task 
Force-Horn of Africa. We also excluded reports and analysis focused 
primarily on combat operations, including tactics, techniques, and 
procedures, after action-reports, and handbooks. We reviewed over 200 
reports or studies, and found 38 documents that met these criteria. We 
entered all of the individual lessons and observations from the 38 
reports into a database resulting in over 3,500 individual lessons and 
observations. Two GAO analysts independently reviewed the individual 
lessons and observations using the following criteria for inclusion.

Inclusive Criteria:

We included lessons related to: U.S. forces performing or supporting 
local governance functions in areas such as health care, utilities, 
infrastructure, and law enforcement; and U.S. forces interacting with 
local civil authorities to enhance the viability of these authorities 
and strengthen their capacity to provide basic services to the local 
population.

Exclusive/Restrictive Criteria:

We excluded lessons related to: tactics, techniques, and procedures for 
combat operations (e.g., marksmanship and weapons maintenance; house 
takedown; cordon and search); general purpose logistical support and 
systems sustainment; combat operations that are primarily offensive in 
nature. (Note: This does not include operations or use of force in 
direct support of the noncombat activities described above. For 
example, we would select lessons regarding the depth and composition of 
forces required to provide security for Provincial Reconstruction 
Teams.)

Following the independent review, the team compared their individual 
results and, when agreement between the independent reviewers could not 
be reached, a third independent reviewer decided upon the inclusion or 
exclusion of the lesson. This analysis resulted in 1,074 individual 
lessons that met GAO's criteria, which we reviewed for commonalities 
from which we developed our 14 major themes. After developing the 
themes, we categorized each lesson or observation, by consensus, into 
one or more categories based upon the content of the lesson. We used 
these themes and our knowledge of the lessons-learned systems and 
guidance as a basis for discussions with combatant command and 
component command planners regarding the use of lessons learned in the 
planning process. We recognize that this analysis is not based upon an 
exhaustive review of all reports and studies on the subject of 
stability operations.

We conducted our review from October 2005 through March 2007 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

[End of section]

Appendix II: Major Lessons-Learned Themes and Descriptions:

Listed below are the 14 major themes that we developed after reviewing 
and categorizing 1,074 lessons learned. We used our analysis to provide 
insight into the types of stability operations lessons available to 
planners and to facilitate our discussions with Department of Defense. 
Our coding methodology often resulted in a lesson falling into one or 
more categories based upon the content of the lesson. Furthermore, 
several categories, such as Civil Military Operations and Provisional 
Reconstruction Teams, were considered to be functional categories, or 
topical areas, and the lessons were often included in another theme. 
The first column lists the theme GAO developed. The second column 
provides a general description of the types of lessons included within 
the theme. The third column lists the total number of lessons coded 
into each theme. Our analytical methodology was developed to support an 
insight as to the types of lessons available and does not does imply a 
ranking of themes in terms of importance or critical needs. A detailed 
discussion of our methodology is included in appendix I.

Table 3: 

GAO Themes: Cultural Sensitivity, Awareness, and Engagement; Theme 
Definitions: Cultural sensitivity, awareness as it pertains to U.S.-to- 
host nation and host nation-to-U.S. engagement before and during 
deployments; Total Number of Lessons: 177.

GAO Themes: Language; Theme Definitions: Training of U.S. forces and 
the use of interpreters; Total Number of Lessons: 55.

GAO Themes: Civil Military Operations; Theme Definitions: Functional 
category related to lessons concerning psychological operations, civil 
affairs, public affairs, and information operations, which were viewed 
as included within civil military operations. (Lessons in this category 
are often included with one of the other themes that talk to a more 
specific issue.); Total Number of Lessons: 301.

GAO Themes: Intelligence; Theme Definitions: Processes and products, 
including: intelligence preparation of the battlespace; operational 
security; counterintelligence; human intelligence; Total Number of 
Lessons: 133.

GAO Themes: DOD Coordination with non-DOD Organizations; Theme 
Definitions: Planning and coordination related to nonmilitary 
activities with other U.S. agencies, non-U.S.-government organizations, 
and host nation governments; Total Number of Lessons: 212.

GAO Themes: Force Composition and Restructuring of Forces; Theme 
Definitions: While deployed, temporary changes in the primary role of 
U.S. forces to meet immediate or unanticipated operational needs. For 
example, transition and reconstruction activities; Total Number of 
Lessons: 12.

GAO Themes: Welfare and Force Protection; Theme Definitions: Includes 
providing for the care, feeding, and security of military and U.S. 
government or coalition civilian forces; Total Number of Lessons: 39.

GAO Themes: Unity and/or Exercise of Command; Theme Definitions: 
Addresses the question of who is in charge and how is the authority of 
command being used; Total Number of Lessons: 21.

GAO Themes: Transition and Reconstruction; Theme Definitions: Examples 
include Corps of Engineers and contracted construction. Transfers of 
authority/responsibility of activities to host nation; election 
support; Total Number of Lessons: 138.

GAO Themes: Automation, Communication, and Systems; Theme Definitions: 
Capability, capacity, and compatibility of U.S. military communication 
and information systems in the theater of operation; Total Number of 
Lessons: 64.

GAO Themes: Military to Military Coordination; Theme Definitions: U.S., 
coalition, and host nation military coordination, planning, and 
capacity. Instances showing how units are working together. This 
category addresses military-to-military; Total Number of Lessons: 167.

GAO Themes: Human Capital--Skills, Capabilities, and Capacity; Theme 
Definitions: Military personnel authorization issues. Are units staffed 
with enough personnel in the right grade with the right skills and 
military specialties all the time, temporarily, or not at all?; Total 
Number of Lessons: 236.

GAO Themes: Preparation for Operations; Theme Definitions: What is 
being done to prepare before a unit needs to deploy. Includes: issues 
of doctrine, training, and logistics; and lessons learned that will 
result in changes to training and logistics to prepare for future 
operations; Total Number of Lessons: 149.

GAO Themes: Provisional Reconstruction Teams; Theme Definitions: 
Functional category related to lessons concerning Provisional 
Reconstruction Teams. (Lessons in this category are often included with 
one of the other themes that talk to a more specific issue.); Total 
Number of Lessons: 31.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

[End of section]

Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Defense:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Special Operations/ Low-Intensity Conflict:

Office Of The Assistant Secretary Of Defense:

Washington, D.C. 20301-2500:

MAY 09 2007:

Ms. Janet A. St. Laurent:
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: US Government 
Accountability Office: 441 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20548:

Dear Ms. St. Laurent:

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the GAO draft 
report, GAO-07-549, "MILITARY OPERATIONS: Actions Needed to Improve 
DoD's Stability Operations Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning," 
dated April 10, 2007 (GAO Code 350743).

DoD appreciates having the opportunity to respond to the draft report. 
There are three important circumstances that influence our response:

* First, the field work for this report began in October 2005. DoD 
Directive 3000.05 "Military Support for Stability, Security, 
Transition, and Reconstruction Operations" (DoDD 3000.05) was issued on 
November 28, 2005. Much of the field work therefore occurred prior to 
activities DoD has undertaken to improve its ability to conduct these 
operations.

* Second, stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations 
are inherently interagency in nature, but the report is directed 
exclusively to DoD. DoD will work to implement those recommendations 
under its purview, but cannot adopt recommendations on behalf of other 
relevant Government agencies.

* Third, DoDD 3000.05 was issued within an existing, well-developed 
system for the identification and development of military capabilities 
and plans. Stability, security, transition and reconstruction 
operations capabilities are not so different from other DoD 
capabilities that they require a new or separate methodology.

DoD's detailed response to the report's recommendations is attached.

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Joseph J. McMenamin:
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense: Stability Operations 
Capabilities:

Attachment: 
As stated:

Dod Response To Recommendations Of Gao Draft Report: "MILITARY 
OPERATIONS: Actions Needed to Improve DoD's Stability Operations 
Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning" (GAO CODE 350743/GAO-07-549, 
dated April 10, 2007):

RECOMMENDATION 1: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) to provide comprehensive 
guidance, including a clear methodology and timeframes for completion, 
to the combatant commanders and the Services on how to identify and 
address stability operations capability gaps.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. The requirement to identify and 
address stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations 
capability needs at the combatant commands and Services is effectively 
addressed by existing, mandated capability assessment methodologies. 
Under the terms and spirit of Goldwater-Nichols, force capability 
analysis is generated by addressing the missions assigned to the 
combatant commands. DoDD 3000.05 is, in itself, the direct "policy 
guidance" enhancing the stability, security, transition and 
reconstruction mission in relation to major combat operations. DoDD 
3000.05 identified stability, security, transition and reconstruction 
operations as a core US military mission and directed that they be 
given priority comparable to combat operations. The combatant commands 
assess and communicate to DoD the capabilities required to conduct 
these missions just as they do for all other assigned military missions.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) to provide comprehensive 
guidance to DoD organizations on how to develop measures of 
effectiveness as directed by DoD Directive 3000.05, including those 
measures related to identifying and developing stability operations 
capabilities.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. DoD is developing measures of 
effectiveness in general, no more or less so in the area of stability, 
security, transition and reconstruction operations than for any other 
mission. Under existing DoD policy, all military activities are 
required to be measured against established measures of effectiveness. 
While establishing measures of effectiveness for stability, security, 
transition and reconstruction operations might prove especially 
challenging, DoD can still address this issue through its existing 
process for establishing measures of effectiveness. A new, unique 
methodology is unnecessary.

RECOMMENDATION 3: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense, in 
coordination with the Secretary of State, provide specific 
implementation guidance to combatant and component commanders on the 
mechanisms that are needed to facilitate and encourage interagency 
participation in the development of military plans that include 
stability operations-related activities.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. Subject to existing structures put 
in place by the President through National Security Presidential 
Directive (NSPD) 44, the directive should, by itself, provide 
sufficient direction. We will continue to work with other agencies of 
the Government to include them in planning and exercising for 
stability, security, transition and reconstruction-related activities.

RECOMMENDATION 4: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense, in 
coordination with the Secretary of State, develop a process to share 
planning information with the interagency representatives early in the 
planning process.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. See the response to Recommendation 
3.

RECOMMENDATION 5: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense, in 
coordination with the Secretary of State, develop an approach to 
overcome differences in planning culture, training and capacities among 
the affected agencies.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. DoD has worked, and will continue 
to work, to understand and accommodate differences in planning, 
training and capabilities development. DoD has provided, and will 
continue to provide, all possible assistance by opening its training 
courses to non-DoD Government agencies, detailing DoD personnel to 
other Government agencies, and actively participating in all 
interagency processes relating to this subject.

RECOMMENDATION 6: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, working with the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), to update the current planning 
guidance to direct military planners to include lessons learned as they 
develop plans.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. Current DoD policy and military 
planning methodology takes into account "lessons learned" when 
constructing or modifying a plan. This is. at the heart of all 
effective military (or non-military) planning. This is already being 
done for stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations.

RECOMMENDATION 7: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, working with the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), to update the current planning 
guidance to require that the plan review process include a step to 
ensure that lessons learned have been considered and adopted as 
appropriate.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs. See the response to Recommendation 
6.

RECOMMENDATION 8: The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, working with the 
Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), to include non-DoD stakeholders in 
the development of the Joint Lessons Learned Information System at an 
earlier point than currently planned.

DOD RESPONSE: DoD partially concurs, to the extent it means that the 
relevant non-DoD stakeholders are invited to participate in the System 
at an earlier stage. These stakeholders face shortfalls in the capacity 
and resources; DoD can invite them to access the lessons-learned 
system, but cannot ensure their interactive participation in it.

[End of section]

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments:

GAO Contact:

Janet A. St. Laurent, (202) 512-4402 or stlaurentj@gao.gov:

Acknowledgments:

In addition to the contact named above, Robert L. Repasky, Assistant 
Director; T. Burke; Stephen Faherty; Susan Ditto; Ron La Due Lake; Kate 
Lenane; Jonathan Carver; Maria-Alaina Rambus; and Christopher Banks 
made key contributions to this report.

[End of section]

Related GAO Reports:

Operation Iraqi Freedom: DOD Should Apply Lessons Learned Concerning 
the Need for Security over Conventional Munitions Storage Sites to 
Future Operations Planning. GAO-07-639T. Washington, D.C.: March 22, 
2007.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: DOD Should Apply Lessons Learned Concerning 
the Need for Security over Conventional Munitions Storage Sites to 
Future Operations Planning. GAO-07-444. Washington, D.C.: March 22, 
2007.

Rebuilding Iraq: Reconstruction Progress Hindered by Contracting, 
Security, and Capacity Challenges. GAO-07-426T. Washington, D.C.: 
February 15, 2007.

Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq. GAO-07-308SP. Washington, 
D.C.: January 9, 2007.

Rebuilding Iraq: Enhancing Security, Measuring Program Results, and 
Maintaining Infrastructure Are Necessary to Make Significant and 
Sustainable Progress. GAO-06-179T. Washington, D.C.: October 18, 2006.

Rebuilding Iraq: Governance, Security, Reconstruction, and Financing 
Challenges. GAO-06-697T. Washington, D.C.: April 25, 2006.

Rebuilding Iraq: Stabilization, Reconstruction, and Financing 
Challenges. GAO-06-428T. Washington, D.C.: February 8, 2006.

Afghanistan Reconstruction: Despite Some Progress, Deteriorating 
Security and Other Obstacles Continue to Threaten Achievement of U.S. 
Goals. GAO-05-742. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 2005.

Military Transformation: Clear Leadership, Accountability, and 
Management Tools Are Needed to Enhance DOD's Efforts to Transform 
Military Capabilities. GAO-05-70. Washington, D.C.: December 16, 2004.

Rebuilding Iraq: Resource, Security, Governance, Essential Services, 
and Oversight Issues. GAO-04-902R. Washington, D.C.: June 28, 2004.

Afghanistan Reconstruction: Deteriorating Security and Limited 
Resources Have Impeded Progress; Improvements in U.S. Strategy Needed. 
GAO-04-403. Washington, D.C.: June 2, 2004.

Rebuilding Iraq. GAO-03-792R. Washington, D.C.: May 15, 2003.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, D.C.: Sep 
2006). This term and definition was also added to the Department of 
Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Publication 
1-02, as amended through September 17, 2006.

[2] Recent changes are included in the National Security Strategy, NSPD-
44, DOD Directive 3000.05, and DOD Joint Publications. 

[3] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual 3122.0l, Joint 
Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES) Volume I (Planning 
Policies and Procedures) (Sept. 29, 2006); Department of Defense 
Directive 3000.05, Military Support for Stability, Security, 
Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations (Nov. 28, 2005); and 
Department of Defense, Military Support to Stabilization, Security, 
Transition, and Reconstruction Operations, Joint Operating Concept 
(Washington, D.C., December 2006). 

[4] Department of Defense Directive 3000.05.

[5] Department of Defense Directive 3000.05.

[6] Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations.

[7] DOD defined stability, security, transition, and reconstruction 
missions as activities that support U.S. government plans for 
stabilization, security, reconstruction, and transition operations, 
which lead to sustainable peace while advancing U.S. interests. In many 
cases stability operations and stability, security, transition, and 
reconstruction terminology is used interchangeably. 

[8] United States Joint Forces Command, J7 Pamphlet, U.S. Government 
Draft Planning Framework for Reconstruction, Stabilization, and 
Conflict Transformation (December 2005).

[9] The Integrated Priority List is a succinct statement, prepared 
annually, of key capability gaps that could hinder the performance of a 
combatant commander's assigned missions.

[10] The Joint Chiefs of Staff are responsible for conducting a Joint 
Quarterly Readiness Review, which is a scenario-based readiness 
assessment that identifies capabilities and risks associated with 
missions that support strategic-level planning guidance. Participants 
in this review include the Combatant Commanders, senior representatives 
from DOD, the Military Services, and other DOD components. 

[11] The Marine Corps's Security Cooperation Training Center 
coordinates Marine Corps education and training programs in support of 
Department of Defense Security Cooperation efforts to enhance 
interoperability with allied and coalition partners in the conduct of 
traditional and irregular warfare and in support of the global struggle 
against violent extremism.

[12] Foreign Area Officers are a group of military officers with a 
broad range of military skills and experiences; knowledge of political- 
military affairs; familiarity with the political, cultural, 
sociological, economic, and geographic factors of the countries and 
regions in which they are stationed; and professional proficiency in 
one or more of the dominant languages in their regions of expertise.

[13] Interim Progress Report on DOD Directive 3000.05, Military Support 
for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) 
Operations (Washington, D.C., August 2006).

[14] To focus the guidance provided in the national strategy, and to 
meet statutory requirements of Title 10 of the United States Code, the 
Secretary of Defense provides written policy guidance to the Chairman 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the preparation and review of 
contingency plans every 2 years, or more frequently as needed. This 
written guidance, called the Contingency Planning Guidance includes the 
relative priority of plans and drives DOD's contingency planning 
efforts. To meet the requirements of the Contingency Planning Guidance, 
combatant commanders develop plans focused on their specific areas of 
responsibility.

[15] Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations.

[16] GAO, Military Transformation: Clear Leadership, Accountability, 
and Management Tools Are Needed to Enhance DOD's Efforts to Transform 
Military Capabilities, GAO-05-70 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 16, 2004).

[17] NSPD-44 directs this through NSPD-1. Specifically, NSPD-44 states 
"Within the scope of this NSPD, and in order to maintain clear 
accountability and responsibility for any given contingency response or 
stabilization and reconstruction mission, lead and supporting 
responsibilities for agencies and departments will be designated using 
the mechanism outlined in NSPD-1. These lead and supporting 
relationships will be redesignated as transitions are required." 

[18] Department of Defense Directive 3000.05.

[19] Department of Defense Directive 3000.05.

[20] Our analysis of DOD's lessons learned data is discussed in more 
detail in the next section of this report.

[21] Department of Defense, Interim Progress Report on DOD Directive 
3000.05.

[22] GAO, Force Structure: Navy Needs to Fully Evaluate Options and 
Provide Standard Guidance for Implementing Surface Ship Rotational 
Crewing, GAO-05-10 (Washington, D.C.: Nov 10, 2004); Chemical Weapons: 
Lessons Learned Program Generally Effective but Could Be Improved and 
Expanded, GAO 02-890 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2002). 

[23] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual, CJCSM 3122.01. 

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