by Krista Owen-Magras
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Over the past decade, the United States Army’s involvement in operations requiring close participation with partner country militaries increased significantly. Multiple missions, including operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf and most recently operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Guardian in Bosnia and Kosovo have continually tested the interoperability of the participating nations. The lessons drawn from these operations demonstrate the need to design methods for enhancing compatibility between nations across the spectrum of mission types and requirements, from combat operations to peacekeeping and peace enforcement.
The object of this study is to improve the Army’s efforts (as guided by the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for International Affairs – DUSA-IA) at enhancing other militaries’ abilities to function as effective coalition partners (Multinational Force Compatiblity-MFC) over the long term. Rather than designing workarounds, this study provides a method for identifying compatibility deficiencies well in advance of any possible operation, so the partner militaries, with the aid of the US, can “fix” the deficiencies. This project focuses specifically on the development of a method involving both qualitative and quantitative analysis, to assist in identifying deficiencies in multinational force compatibility with possible partner countries, across a range of missions and functional areas.
The decision support tool developed in this policy analysis is entitled the Military Compatibility Assessment Tool (MCAT). It is designed to assist DUSA-IA in making strategic level multinational force compatibility policy decisions. The tool specifically allows for the identification of a country’s compatibility strengths and deficiencies in critical mission areas.
The MCAT produces a hierarchy of states based on their ground forces’ compatibility with the US Army and identifies areas of greatest need and potential bottlenecks in coalition operations with the US. It establishes the country ranking in a relative fashion, allowing for comparisons among the states using the US Army as the standard point of reference. The MCAT allows DUSA-IA to improve MFC within the current system constraints by giving decision-makers a rational basis on which to make good policy choices. It allows the Army to identify which activities, conducted with which partners, will be the most effective in enhancing MFC. Beyond providing a general analysis of the current worldwide situation, the analysis can be tailored to fit any region or mission type so as to provide specific input for contingency planning. Most importantly, the MCAT can assist the Army with developing a guiding strategic policy for MFC.
Based on my analysis, I recommend that:
• DUSA-IA clearly detail explicit long-term Army MFC priorities. This is a critical function of the office, and should be the first step towards their efforts at enhancing MFC.
• DUSA-IA and the Army adopt the MCAT methodology as part of the decision support system used to make decisions about MFC priorities, activities and funding.
• DUSA-IA organize a panel of experts with recent operations experience to identify the critical assessment areas, so as to operationalize the MCAT for analysis.
• DUSA-IA develop and push for acceptance of standardized evaluation criteria for those critical MFC activities, at a minimum within the Army and if possible for all US services.