Centcom Official Highlights Interagency Partnerships in Stabilization


The Defense Department is working in partnership with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to maximize U.S. efforts for stability in conflict-affected areas, a U.S. Central Command official said today.

U.S. Central Command
U.S. Central Command
U.S. Central Command

Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the deputy commander at Centcom, delivered the keynote address, titled “DoD Perspective to Stabilization and Importance of the Stabilization Assistance Review,” on the final day of a two-day stabilization symposium at George Washington University.

"When you talk about stabilization, it's the partnerships and alliances we have with the Department of State, USAID [and] nongovernmental organizations that allow us to be able to do those things that we do in order to provide stability in different locations," he said.

The Stabilization Assistance Review provides the framework for DoD, the State Department and USAID to best carry out stabilization efforts in conflict-affected areas. It incorporates lessons learned, while also placing the State Department in charge as the lead federal agency, USAID as the implementer and DoD supporting with security and logistics, Brown explained.

He pointed out that having one agency in charge prevents the conflicts that could arise when it is unclear who is in charge and there are different approaches to stabilization.

Stabilization is Not ‘One Size Fits All’

Brown outlined three types of operating zones: a stable zone that has good security, good governance, and good delivery of services; a gray zone that has weakened security, weakened governance and weakened delivery of services; and an unstable zone that lacks security, governance and delivery of services.

“We'll vacillate between stable and the gray zone,” he said. “Working in the central region, we probably spend more time in the gray zone than we do in the stable zone, by in large across our [area of responsibility]."

When talking about security in northeast Syria, the priority was to first defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, he said, noting a big part of that effort was done by, with and through partners on the ground. Stabilization occurs throughout all phases, he said. It said occurs when there is a level of security, a level of governance and some level of service delivery.

He used Manbij, Syria, as an example, saying that while it is fairly stable now, the challenge of stability includes ensuring the security endures.

"You're not going to have a kind of a ‘one size fits all,’ but you do want to have a kind of ‘one size fits most’ and being able to adjust as things going along," he said.

He also pointed out lessons from the Stabilization Assistance Review that could be applied to how things could have been done differently in Afghanistan. For example, he said the Afghan security forces, as they are doing now, could have earlier taken on the greater role in their own security. 

The Stabilization Assistance Review is an interagency effort with the State Department, USAID and DoD to identify ways the United States can leverage diplomatic engagement, defense and foreign assistance to stabilize conflict-affected areas. The review took place last year; the secretaries of State and Defense and the administrator of USAID signed it in February.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)