IPA’s Global Strategy Group (GSG) is a team of former officers from the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the FBI, and the private sector. They are a team of experts in foreign affairs, global security, interagency and intergovernmental cooperation. Emphasizing a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach, the GSG provides solutions by designing, planning and executing scenario-supported wargames and experiments addressing complex emerging security challenges.

The GSG has produced and delivered numerous reports and handbooks on best practices for civil-military, interagency, and host-country cooperation. The topics range from conflict prevention and mitigation to post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction. The team has also provided extensive support to NATO in moving toward the implementation of the Alliance’s Strategic Concept.

The recently released paper "Bury the Dead, Feed the Living," by Dr. Raymond Millen, discusses U.S. civil affairs/stability operations during World War II. How can we tailor lessons learned from WWII to inform decisions in our current geopolitical environment?


  • Re: Bury the Dead, Feed the Living - Stability Ops During WWII

    by » one year ago

    I would like to have seen a chapter that covered what happened after CA programs/actions were turned over to local and national governments in Europe.  What challenges remained after the Military Government moved on?  There are some insights but not enough to examine what was successful in the long term versus what required re-emphasis when the military moved on.  I know from other readings about post-WWII Europe that there was a lot of violent retribution against sympathizers, redistribution of properties and welfare from outside sources by those who assumed power, and some clapback because U.S. military programs forced on populations did not suit customs and norms.

    Generally, I found the lessons learned presented in this paper to be:

    1)  Reconstitution of hugely damaged post-war environments can only be successful if the effort is left to military leadership and uniformed personnel.  Author noted that FDR and heads of civilian departments did not trust the military to run reconstitution of Europe but recognized that they also only wanted the civilian departments to work from outside the theater due to their lack of capability.

    2)  Expect a HUGE waste of reconstitution resources across all levels of activities as materials are misused, pilfered, or simply siphoned off by commanders for "more pressing needs."  This includes the number of personnel planned to be sent to perform reconstitution responsibilities.

    3)  A plan and prior training in reconstitution is only as good as the first action -- flexibility is the key to reconstitution success.  Generic training and planning does not mean success in every sub-theater.

    4) Completely destroying our adversary presents "unimaginable challenges" that require reconstitution activities to begin prior to combat ending (e.g., occupation duties begun prior to combat units redeploying).

    5)  Expect chaos during transition and reconstitution.  Challenges inherent in operating among post-conflict undisciplined allied forces and demobilized defeated countries will hamper reconstitution efforts.

    6)  A nonfraternization-with-former-adversaries policy during reconstitution is both unenforceable and counterproductive.  Fraternization sets the stage to successfully return civilian governance to the defeated in ways that success can be enduring.

    7)  Because of the above factors, maintaining morale among reconstitution functionaries will be a significant challenge.  Key to success is "pragmatism, tireless efforts, and dedication to economic and political rehabilitation."  

Sign up
for new topics

Get notified of fresh forum posts

Invalid or duplicate email address
Please, check 'I'm not a robot'