Monday, August 20, 2007

UN praises Indian women police officers deployed in Liberia - Yahoo! India News

We posted earlier on the deployment of 125 Indian Para-military forces soliders to Liberia. Great to see that they are receiving well-deserved praise for their work:

'New York, Aug 19 (PTI) Indian women police officers - members of the first ever all female unit deployed by the UN - have come in for high praise from the world body's officials who commended their work in emergency situations as also in crime prevention in Liberia where they are posted.

As a mark of the appreciation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Alan Doss decorated the officers - who have also been praised for their unflinching support to the National Police in Liberia (NPL) - with the UN Peacekeeping Medals at an impressive ceremony in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

"Though a new beginning for gender equality in peacekeeping, this deployment is a continuation of India's consistent commitment to peacekeeping operations," Doss said. "All of you standing here represent a proud tradition of service to international peace." Also present at the ceremony were Force Commander Lt Gen Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, Director of Administration Stephen Lieberman, the Inspector-General of the Liberia National Police Beatrice Munah Sieh, UNPOL Acting Commissioner, General Maritz Du Toit; the Consul-General of India Upjit Singh Sachdeva and other Government officials.

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is currently assisting the NPL to attract more women into the police.'

Sunday, August 19, 2007

East African and Southern African Nations Creating Regional Peacekeeping Force

Voice of America has a piece introducing the new Eastern African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG).

'Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki opened the defense ministers' council meeting in Nairobi with a call for financial support and troop contributions to a new stand-by force. Mr. Kibaki said that troops should be available within three years to handle any crisis, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters, on the African continent.

The new force, to be called the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) has its headquarters in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, as well as a planning department in Kenya. Though exact numbers of soldiers have yet to be announced, military officials have said EASBRIG will be made up of five brigades.

Officials of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a seven-country regional development organization in East Africa, say the new force is needed, because they are overwhelmed with demands for troops to be sent to war-torn areas on the continent, including Sudan's Darfur region, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo.'

In a case of duelling-launches, the SADC announced the creation of their own Southern African peacekeeping brigade on the same day.


A German woman was kidnapped in broad daylight from a Kabul bakery popular with foreigners. Her male expatriate colleague was not taken.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper continue to trumpet his armed forces 'humanitarian' work in Afghanistan to his electorate in an attempt to maintain public support for the deployment. Germany is not ruling out further troop contributions for Afghanistan, despite sharing similar Canadian reticence to go down the road of combat deployments.

Great piece entitled, 'Professors on the Battlefield', showcasing the deployment of social scientists with US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as cultural advisors to Brigade Commanders. If it isn't enough that humanitarians denounce the blurring of lines between military and humanitarian action, the American Anthropological Association recalls the irreparable damage done to academia by 'militarization of the social sciences' that affected their profession in the 60's and 70's. The article captures the worrying comparison to that which humanitarian organizations face in speaking with donors, diplomats and armed forces:

'In recent years, the annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association have been dominated by discussion about what ethical responsibilities scholars have in relation to war, terrorism and torture. At such events, Ms. McFate and her rare sympathizers often sound like a lone voice in the wilderness.'

Finally, it seems that PRTs are in season again: a DefenseLink 'good news' piece on PRTs in Afghanistan.

More YouTube- Australian PRTs in Afghanistan

Two personal interest pieces on YouTube, showcasing Australian PRT successes in Afghanistan:

Thanks to Warisboring for the links.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

PRTs in Iraq | MountainRunner

MountainRunner has a comprehensive post that includes the best overview of PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) of the US armed forces in Iraq that we have seen thus far.

Afghanistan- NGOs question new government directive on armed escorts IRIN Asia | Asia | Afghanistan | AFGHANISTAN: NGOs question new government directive on armed escorts | Governance Conflict Aid Policy | News Item

'Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior has ordered Afghan security forces not to allow foreign aid workers to travel outside Kabul without an armed escort.'

In the aftermath of the ongoing hostage crises in Afghanistan, the move was probably inevitable, as are the reactions by NGOs:

'...The Afghan security authorities have repeatedly requested all foreign aid workers to seek their advice before travelling beyond Kabul city.

“We would not be facing the current crisis if the Koreans had informed us about their travel plans in advance,” said Zemarai Bashari, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry (MoI). “We could have provided them with an armed escort for their protection,” he added.

The government of Afghanistan has expressed it readiness to provide armed police escorts for international staff who would like to drive out of the capital, officials said.

However, representatives of local and international NGOs have dubbed the government’s extra security measures “disproportionate” and “counterproductive”.

“Armed escorts will undoubtedly make NGOs a legitimate target for anti-government elements,” said Hashim Mayar, deputy director of ACBAR - a coordination umbrella for NGOs in Afghanistan.

Mayar also said that in light of criticisms of widespread corruption and inefficiency within the MoI, many NGOs fear disclosing an advanced itinerary to the Afghan police, fearing it would increase possible risks.

Matt Waldman, an adviser to the UK charity Oxfam, said: “Whilst we understand the reasons for this move, we believe it is disproportionate and could have adverse consequences for development works, particularly in rural areas.”'

Disproportionate does seem to characterize many aspects of this story. In particular, how many agencies were truly working far outside the relative safety of Kabul (or other urban centres...) and as such would truly be affected by this travel restriction- if we can even call it that- ?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Iraq- Video: Inside the Surge

The Guardian's Sean Smith has a good short film on the surge in Iraq. Part II can be found here.

Afghanistan- Servicemembers Volunteer to Convoy Supplies to Needy Afghans

'Every other week, servicemembers from all branches of the military conduct convoys from this base to deliver clothing and supplies to needy Afghans in the surrounding areas. But they're not doing it because they have to. They're doing it because they want to help.

Members of the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan unload a truck full of donations from the U.S. at a refugee camp outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“These are military and coalition members who volunteer,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Weber, Camp Eggers garrison chaplain. “They participate on their own time and at their own risk to do something good for the people of Afghanistan.”

The chaplains on Camp Eggers have organized the deliveries as part of a community relations program. Working with local religious leaders, as well as various government and relief agencies, the program organizers plan their missions to deliver aid to areas most in need of the assistance.'

US Civil Affairs- Peace Through Puppets

One article lead us to dig deeper into this phenomenon: Peace Through Puppets.


'The reaction was immediate when Army 1st Sgt. Bruce L. Reges strode into the classroom in the Baghdad suburb of Baqubah, in the volatile Diyala province.

At 6-foot-5 and wearing full body armor, Reges, 57, looked fearsome to the schoolchildren. Outside, two Stryker armored vehicles blocked the street. A heavily armed security detail was checking out the roof and other classrooms.

Reges is assigned to an Army civil affairs unit out of Fort Bragg, N.C., working to reconstruct and support schools, irrigation projects and honey farms in Diyala. The team was visiting the school to assess what could be done to help, but the young students were terrified.

"Two of the girls started to cry and escape somehow, and the teacher had to calm them down and tell them that we were there to help them, not to hurt them," Reges recalled. "It was emotionally tough for me to see a child so traumatized by U.S. soldiers that they reacted that way."'

You can guess at the rest of the article- an email to his mom, the inevitable shipment of handpuppets assembled by concerned mothers in Reston, Louisiana and now Civl Affairs soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are not to be found without a 'puppet in their pocket', so to speak. As with the best things in life, you can donoate money via PayPal on the website (20 USD = 12 soft puppets), in addition to enjoying photos of thoroughly softened US troops in body armor, wrap-around sunglasses and hand puppets... Other armed forces can seemingly request their own puppets with a simple mail to

SOMALIA: Call for agencies to scale up aid operations in capital

UN official makes the call for aid agencies to step up their activities in Somalia, taking advantage of military escorts and protected compounds in Somalia:

'A senior UN official has urged humanitarian agencies to take advantage of security provided by African Union troops in Mogadishu to improve the delivery of aid to tens of thousands of displaced people camped in surrounding areas.

"Response [to the crisis] has not been adequate because of difficulties of access and too many security incidents," Eric Laroche, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said on 2 August, a day after a visit to Mogadishu.

Aid agencies should be mobilised to scale up their operations in the Somali capital, he said, adding that this would help get relief supplies both to the city and the surrounding areas.

He said the availability of African Union security escorts facilitated his visit to Mogadishu and the Afgoye.

"We are starting to have access and we need to use it," Laroche said. "If we can operate from Mogadishu, we can reach more people."'

Thursday, August 02, 2007

AFRICOM: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Refugees International was invited to testify before the Subcommittee on African Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations. They have posted the complete testimony entitled AFRICOM: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing here. Have cut a few clips from the presentation, Mark Malan doesn't waste many words on niceties and gives a comprehensive view of how AFRICOM risks undermining US (and more globally, NGO) interests in Africa:

'In some parts of the world, like Iraq and Afghanistan, the face of US foreign policy is clearly a military one. In Africa, the DoD appears to be putting a civilian mask on the face of a combatant command, with its marketing pitch for AFRICOM. This disingenuous strategy is not working. The veneer of the mask is simply too thin, and attempts to patch the holes that have emerged—by telling us “what AFRICOM is not about” and re-emphasizing a humanitarian and developmental role for the US military in Africa—simply make the face of US foreign policy much shadier....

There is much sense in the argument for inter-agency cooperation; what does not make sense is linking this to a combatant command. According to one of Africa’s leading security analysts, AFRICOM should be orientated to an appropriate and clearly delineated role, with non-military issues kept outside of its grasp: “The much-vaunted inter-agency staff to be included in AFRICOM should be seen for what it is—the further co-option and subjugation of US foreign and development policy to a neocolonial agenda which is inimical to Africa and ironically, to the US itself.”

...The main concern of operational NGOs is that AFRICOM will increase the trend towards the militarization of humanitarian action, which raises fundamental concerns about the purpose of such assistance. Security objectives envisioned in the short term can run at cross purposes to the longer-term vision of creating stable and sustainable institutions that are accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of all segments of the population. Such concerns are amplified by the way AFRICOM is being presented as a tool for integrating US military, political, and humanitarian objectives under a unified military command.'

Malan's conclusions are good ones: he proposes that AFRICOM limit its purely extra-miliary role fo defence sector reform and support to the building o African peacekeeping and Standby Force capacity- already a significant workload.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Haiti- UN Peacekeeping Force Evolving to a Policing Role


In the lead-up to the UN Secretary General's visit, Haiti is getting some long-merited attention. This AP article takes a balanced look at the challenges facing peacekeeping and peacebuilding in the Haitian state.

Haiti is in a transitional phase, where it is out of immediate crisis, but where, 'The senior U.N. envoy to Haiti says it is too soon for the U.N. to consider withdrawing its 8,800-strong, Brazil-led peacekeeping force, noting past failed attempts to help the country... "An early withdrawal right now would be a big mistake, 'Big' with a capital letter," Edmond Mulet said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "This is a time to hold on, to make this work this time."'

The challenge is that UN military peacekeepers are obliged to undertake what is essentially a policing function. '... the U.N. mission eventually hopes to use more civilian police than soldiers but is hampered by a world shortage of trained, French-speaking officers... The peacekeepers provide more than 80 percent of Haiti's security needs, but the government is working to eventually take over that responsibility. The national police academy is pumping out hundreds of recruits, trying bolster the nation's small police force of 6,000.'

Chronic poverty and gangs, drug-traffickers still pose a threat to real peace and stability in Haiti, with official suggesting that a UN force will be need until President Preval's term ends in 2011.


Resource- Guidelines for Relations Between US Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations

The United States Institute of Peace launched their Guidelines for Relations Between US Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations on 24 July 2007.

Have pasted in the broad recommendations for armed forces and humanitarian agencies. Taken out of context, it might look a bit simplistic. There's much more in the guidelines, and the processes aspect is particularly well done. One can only guess at how difficult it was in finding 'lowest common denominators' for such a diverse audience. One can quickly find some issues of contention, such as: 'In situations in which there is no actor to servea as a bridge, a US military Civil Affairs cell could serve as a temporary point-of-contact between NGHOs and other elements of the US Armed Forces.' What about OCHA's CMCS?

To be seen how US stakeholders will implement this- and who will enforce it?

'On July 24, 2007, leaders of the U.S. military and NGO community celebrated a promising moment for civil-military relations in peace operations: the rollout of Guidelines that will serve as “rules of the road” for how the two entities operate in hostile environments.

Facilitated by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Guidelines seek to mitigate frictions between military and NGO personnel over the preservation of humanitarian space in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Principles in the Guidelines include ensuring that military personnel wear uniforms when conducting relief activities to avoid being mistaken for nongovernmental humanitarian organization representatives. Conversely, it recommends that humanitarian relief personnel avoid traveling in U.S. Armed Forces vehicles with the exception of liaison personnel to the extent practical.
The heads of both the U.S. military and InterAction (an umbrella organization for U.S. NGOs) have endorsed the Guidelines and will be disseminating them throughout their organizations. Two years in the making, the effort represents “a desire from both sides to move beyond polemics to proactive problem solving,” said Jeb Nadaner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations at the Pentagon. NGO leaders likewise expressed optimism at the potential for change. “We do not want to understate the importance of this document for us,” said Sam Worthington, InterAction President and CEO. “We believe that these guidelines will serve a purpose beyond U.S. NGOs to our global partners.”

The initiative was launched in March 2005 when Amb. Carlos Pascual, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. State Department, asked the Institute to establish a Working Group on Civil-Military Relations in Non-permissive Environments. What began as a dialogue between military and NGO leaders has resulted in a pioneering effort upon which both sides hope to expand. Military and NGO leaders intend to promulgate the Guidelines throughout their communities via media and education channels: NGOs will publish the Guidelines in their newsletters and literature; the military will incorporate the Guidelines into joint military doctrine publications. The next challenge lies in implementing the Guidelines in the field and creating a monitoring mechanism by which the Guidelines can be continuously tested and revised.

For the U.S. Armed Forces, the following guidelines should be observed consistent with military force protection, mission accomplishment, and operational requirements:

1. When conducting relief activities, military personnel should wear uniforms or other distinctive clothing to avoid being mis taken for NGHO representatives. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should not display NGHO logos on any military cloth ing, vehicles, or equipment. This does not preclude the appro priate use of symbols recognized under the law of war, such as a red cross, when appropriate. U.S. Armed Forces may use such symbols on military clothing, vehicles, and equipment in appropriate situations.
2. Visits by U.S. Armed Forces personnel to NGHO sites should be by prior arrangement.
3. U.S. Armed Forces should respect NGHO views on the bearing of arms within NGHO sites.
4. U.S. Armed Forces should give NGHOs the option of meeting with U.S. Armed Forces personnel outside military installations for information exchanges.
5. U.S. Armed Forces should not describe NGHOs as “force mul tipliers” or “partners” of the military, or in any other fashion.
6. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should avoid interfer ing with NGHO relief efforts directed toward segments of the civilian population that the military may regard as unfriendly.
7. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should respect the de sire of NGHOs not to serve as implementing partners for the military in conducting relief activities. However, individual NGOs may seek to cooperate with the military, in which case such cooperation will be carried out with due regard to avoid ing compromise of the security, safety, and independence of the NGHO community at large, NGHO representatives, or public perceptions of their independence.

For NGHOs, the following guidelines should be observed:

1. NGHO personnel should not wear military-style clothing. This is not meant to preclude NGHO personnel from wearing protec tive gear, such as helmets and protective vests, provided that such items are distinguishable in color/appearance from U.S. Armed Forces issue items.
2. NGHO travel in U.S. Armed Forces vehicles should be limited to liaison personnel to the extent practical.
3. NGHOs should not have facilities co-located with facilities in habited by U.S. Armed Forces personnel.
4. NGHOs should use their own logos on clothing, vehicles, and buildings when security conditions permit.
5. NGHO personnel’s visits to military facilities/sites should be by prior arrangement.
6. Except for liaison arrangements detailed in the sections that follow, NGHOs should minimize their activities at military bases and with U.S. Armed Forces personnel of a nature that might compromise their independence.
7. NGHOs may, as a last resort, request military protection for convoys delivering humanitarian assistance, take advantage of essential logistics support available only from the military, or accept evacuation assistance for medical treatment or to evacuate from a hostile environment. Provision of such mili tary support to NGHOs rests solely within the discretion of the military forces and will not be undertaken if it interferes with higher priority military activities. Support generally will be provided on a reimbursable basis in accordance with appli cable U.S. law.'