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Come together: Why getting comprehensive matters (Nov 2010)

One of the aims of NATO's Lisbon summit was to seek better coordination between the military and civilian organisations. Why? Because everyone benefits from the outcome.

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One of the aims

of the Lisbon Summit was to seek

better coordination between

military and civilian organisations.

Why? Because everyone

benefits from the outcome.

So what are these benefits?

Medical care.

- Clean water and electricity.

Financial support

to build physical infrastructure.

Basic health care.

Can my child go to school?

The United Nation's Special

representative in Afghanistan

is Staffan de Mistura.

He has seen many conflicts around

the world over several decades.

In what area

Afghanistan would benefit most

from a more joined-up approach?

Governance, no question,

which is the name of the game.

In other words, if you see

a province or district transitionalising

from military, the PRT for instance,

to a civilian,

and from this civilian to the Afghan,

the secret is:

will the governor

be able to manage that?

The jargon for this coordination,

is the comprehensive approach.

But what does that mean?

The comprehensive approach

is a way of having NATO

to click together like a Lego brick

with other organisations like the EU,

like the UN, but also like

the World Bank or big NGOs.

Over the years, I think,

as Norway was early in talking

about the comprehensive approach,

we see that more

and more countries have come out

and seen the need for that.

How has the comprehensive

approach played out in Afghanistan

and what difficulties

have there been?

The challenge of coordinating

such an operation,

both on the civil

and the military side, has been huge.

Coordination can be improved

and should be improved.

How to do that with more than

50 sovereign countries contributing,

tens of international organisations,

hundreds of NGOs...

This is a complicated task.

NATO is committed

to a comprehensive approach

in its new mission statement.

The Afghanistan mission is moving

into a more transition-focused stage.

So how important will

the comprehensive approach be

in this transition in Afghanistan?

It will be crucial.

But it will also be crucial,

the coordination between

the foreigners and the Afghans.

After all,

the training is for the Afghans.

Lessons learned in Afghanistan,

that brought us

to have comprehensive approach

mentioned in the Strategic Concept.

Certain organisations are by far

more skilled or more interested

or capable in certain areas.

On elections, it's clearly the UN,

but more and more with the EU.

On training the police,

it is NATO and the EU.

On training the military,

it is more ISAF.

But remember

that the comprehensive approach

is not a new idea,

just one whose time has come.

I've been in 18 conflict environments

and I remember the first time

I could see a combination

of military and civilian skills, was in

the Ethiopian hunger famine in '84,

when I myself

organised the airdrop operations

between NATO and the Warsaw Pact

at that time, jointly.

And the approach may

lead to a different mind-set

for planning future operations.

We have to consider

before we start a military operation:

How we can involve the civil and

the development aid organisations

so we can do a common operation

which is not just military

or not just civil, but we do it together.

The comprehensive approach:

a logical idea with many benefits

and a lot of support.

All that remains, is to decide

who coordinates what and who.

But therein could lie a problem.

Remember,

nobody likes to be coordinated.

One of the aims

of the Lisbon Summit was to seek

better coordination between

military and civilian organisations.

Why? Because everyone

benefits from the outcome.

So what are these benefits?

Medical care.

- Clean water and electricity.

Financial support

to build physical infrastructure.

Basic health care.

Can my child go to school?

The United Nation's Special

representative in Afghanistan

is Staffan de Mistura.

He has seen many conflicts around

the world over several decades.

In what area

Afghanistan would benefit most

from a more joined-up approach?

Governance, no question,

which is the name of the game.

In other words, if you see

a province or district transitionalising

from military, the PRT for instance,

to a civilian,

and from this civilian to the Afghan,

the secret is:

will the governor

be able to manage that?

The jargon for this coordination,

is the comprehensive approach.

But what does that mean?

The comprehensive approach

is a way of having NATO

to click together like a Lego brick

with other organisations like the EU,

like the UN, but also like

the World Bank or big NGOs.

Over the years, I think,

as Norway was early in talking

about the comprehensive approach,

we see that more

and more countries have come out

and seen the need for that.

How has the comprehensive

approach played out in Afghanistan

and what difficulties

have there been?

The challenge of coordinating

such an operation,

both on the civil

and the military side, has been huge.

Coordination can be improved

and should be improved.

How to do that with more than

50 sovereign countries contributing,

tens of international organisations,

hundreds of NGOs...

This is a complicated task.

NATO is committed

to a comprehensive approach

in its new mission statement.

The Afghanistan mission is moving

into a more transition-focused stage.

So how important will

the comprehensive approach be

in this transition in Afghanistan?

It will be crucial.

But it will also be crucial,

the coordination between

the foreigners and the Afghans.

After all,

the training is for the Afghans.

Lessons learned in Afghanistan,

that brought us

to have comprehensive approach

mentioned in the Strategic Concept.

Certain organisations are by far

more skilled or more interested

or capable in certain areas.

On elections, it's clearly the UN,

but more and more with the EU.

On training the police,

it is NATO and the EU.

On training the military,

it is more ISAF.

But remember

that the comprehensive approach

is not a new idea,

just one whose time has come.

I've been in 18 conflict environments

and I remember the first time

I could see a combination

of military and civilian skills, was in

the Ethiopian hunger famine in '84,

when I myself

organised the airdrop operations

between NATO and the Warsaw Pact

at that time, jointly.

And the approach may

lead to a different mind-set

for planning future operations.

We have to consider

before we start a military operation:

How we can involve the civil and

the development aid organisations

so we can do a common operation

which is not just military

or not just civil, but we do it together.

The comprehensive approach:

a logical idea with many benefits

and a lot of support.

All that remains, is to decide

who coordinates what and who.

But therein could lie a problem.

Remember,

nobody likes to be coordinated.

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