The last of a three-part part series examines command relationships under ordinary circumstances, urging that care be taken not to mingle U.S., UN, or other organizational terminology in ways that confuse mission accomplishment. This is vital since the U.S. military will continue its involvement in multinational undertakings that will often depart from traditional military duties. Libya, as a recent example, saw five combatant commands and four Services affected by the need for clear command relationships in air and maritime operations, and that was complicated by the passing of authority to the multinational community. Commanders need to grasp the practical and other implications of multiple levels of command within the American structure and the additional realities that arise as U.S. forces are assigned or attached to other forces in the coalition realm.
Previously in Joint Force Quarterly, we provided command relationship overviews as they occur in both U.S. and multi-national doctrine.1 In this last installment, we take a broad look at command relationships as they exist under normal conditions within intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN). Commanders must use caution not to exchange U.S. with UN or any other organization’s terminology.
Founded in 1945, the UN is an international organization of countries committed to maintaining peace and security around the world.2 Its charter is the foundational document that provides the UN Security Council (UNSC) with responsibilities such as establishing peacekeeping operations (PKOs).3 Currently with 193 member states and no standing army, the UN approaches member states for military force contributions. Member states that contribute forces to PKOs are called troop contributing countries (TCCs).4 Even though TCC forces operate under a UN command5 with blue berets or helmets with UN insignia, TCCs always retain full command6 of their national forces and may withdraw them at any time.7
Established by a UNSC resolution (UNSCR) with the agreement between warring parties, a UN PKO contains binding mandates with tasks such as supporting a cease-fire, peace agreement, or protection of civilians.8 Within the spectrum of UN PKOs, five activities are carried out by UN forces: peacekeeping (create conditions for peace, consent needed); peace enforcement (practices ensuring peace, consent not needed); peacemaking (establish equal power relationships among actors); peace-building (civilian infrastructure); and conf lict prevention (action taken in advance of a crisis). Although the terms peacekeeping and peace enforcement do not appear in the UN Charter, their legal basis is found in chapters VI (“Pacific Settlement of Disputes”) and VII (“Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of Peace and Acts of Aggression”).9
Within the UN mission structure, three levels of command and control exist. At the strategic level, the UNSC provides overall political direction. At the operational level, the UN Secretary-General provides executive direction assisted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). At the tactical level where the military component resides and appointed by the Secretary-General via submissions by member states to DPKO is the highest ranking military individual on the UN force, the UN Force Commander (UNFC) or head of military component. The UNFC reports to the special representative of the Secretary-General, also known as the chief of mission, and exercises UN operational control (UN OPCON)10 over all military personnel including military observers. Commanders of different contingents report to the UNFC on all operational matters and must not be given or accept instructions from their own national authorities that are contrary to the mission’s mandate.11 To ref lect participation of TCCs in UN PKOs, an integrated command structure is normally adopted. Even though collaboration between TCC personnel is a strength in UN PKOs, common concerns are the capability of headquarters staff and its integration with a firm understanding of TCC military capabilities.
The current U.S. position regarding command over American forces engaged in a multinational contingency operation is rooted in Article II of the U.S. Constitution, Title 10 of U.S. Code,12 and further refined by a group of Presidential directives. As Commander in Chief, the President of the United States always retains command authority over U.S. forces. Any large-scale participation of American forces likely to involve combat is ordinarily conducted under U.S. command13 or through a competent regional organization.14 Normally, the President will keep units formed in support of a UN mission under a U.S. chain of command; however, he will make the exception of placing units under UN OPCON/UN tactical control of a U.S. officer in a UN deputy commander position. Within the limits of UN OPCON, a foreign commander cannot change the mission or deploy U.S. forces outside the operational area agreed to by the President; separate units or divide their supplies; administer discipline; or promote anyone or change the internal organization of U.S. forces.
In 1950, the UNSC established a UN command to stop Communist aggression in Korea. Through the years, international military presence in the Republic of Korea (ROK) declined from worldwide to bilateral. Eventually, UN member states called for the dissolution of the UN command in Korea and for the establishment of a ROK-U.S. combined command system. As a result, in 1978 remaining ROK-U.S. forces transferred from UN command to the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC).15 If conf lict arises, the CFC commander will act in the defense of the ROK and technically could act as the commander of UN forces in Korea. When conf lict occurs, U.S. forces will be either under “combined OPCON” and even possibly UN OPCON. Combined OPCON is a more restrictive term than U.S. OPCON, strictly referring to the employment of warfighting missions.16
Following military operations in Panama and Kuwait/Iraq in 1992, the President authorized National Security Directive (NSD) 74, “Peacekeeping and Emergency Humanitarian Relief Policy,” outlining U.S. support for UN peacekeeping. In 1993, Policy Review Document (PRD) 13, “Peacekeeping Operations,” was drafted. It aimed to improve UN peacekeeping. However, PRD 13 did not come to fruition due to political pressures resulting from U.S. casualties in the UN operation in Somalia, which was commanded by a Turkish general and a dual-hatted U.S. deputy who was as the commander of U.S. Forces Somalia. Even though thousands of American troops were placed under UN OPCON for this mission,17 the UNFC in reality had little or no control over these forces since the arrangement of these attached forces was intended for utilization under the U.S. deputy.18
While Presidential directives in the 1990s articulated policies on peacekeeping, existing joint doctrine provided limited guidance. The first step toward filling that gap was joint publication (JP) development conducted by the joint doctrine development community led by the Joint Chiefs of Staff J7. The increase of JP development began in 1993 with the creation of JP 3-07.3, Peace Operations, and JP 3-07.5 (now JP 3-68), Noncombatant Evacuation Operations. In 1994, Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 25, “U.S. Policy on Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations,” established instructions and clarified command relationship terminology for U.S. participation in peace operations. It also focused attention on the need for improved dialogue and decisionmaking among governmental agencies. Less than 24 months after the release of PDD 25, joint publications on stability operations, interorganizational coordination during joint operations, and foreign humanitarian assistance entered U.S. military doctrine.19 PDD 25 also laid the basis for PDD 56, “Managing Complex Contingency Operations,” in 1997, which institutionalized policies and procedures on managing complex crises.20
When the UN released the Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations in 2000, it exposed additional shortfalls in the execution of UN PKOs.21 In 2004, the President’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) was created to assist in filling those gaps by training peacekeepers and regionally building sustainable indigenous peacekeeping training capacity as primary objectives. Implemented through a close partnership between the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense (DOD), with State in the lead, GPOI is now another mechanism like troop contribution or financial assistance led by State and other congressional means of the U.S. Government supporting UN and regional peace operations.22 Under a new development in U.S. policy last year, the President issued Presidential Study Directive 10, “Creation of Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and Corresponding Interagency Review.”23 This directive identified the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide as a core national security interest of the United States and directed the creation of an atrocities prevention board to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to preventing and responding to mass atrocities and genocide. As a result, military doctrine on the protection of civilians and mass atrocity response operations is being further developed and incorporated into joint doctrine and publications such as JP 3-07.3. In support of this doctrine, GPOI will play a key role in implementing the recommendations of the board when it comes to training peacekeepers who are often the first line of defense in preventing mass atrocities.
When the UNSC determines that an operation exceeds the capabilities of the United Nations, the Security Council under chapter VIII (“Regional Arrangements”) of the charter can authorize a lead nation operation such as the UN-sponsored operations in Korea (U.S. led) and East Timor (Australian led). In January 1991, the Desert Storm coalition ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait under the authority of a UNSCR. Led by an officer now called the U.S. Central Command commander, the United States and its Western allies operated under a parallel command that was separate from the Arab forces commanded by a Saudi commander.
When an operation exceeds UN capabilities and is regional, again under chapter VIII, the United Nations can authorize an organization to lead it. Two such regional organizations are the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and African Union (AU). Operating under a UN-sanctioned mission in 2001, NATO took over the UNmandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which provides security in and around the capital. Soon after, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan was established as a peacekeeping mission that focused on recovery and reconstruction. While acting under a UNSCR, few would argue the legality of a NATO military presence; however, when NATO acts under its own mandate as in Yugoslavia in 1999, undoubtedly the question of legality arises.24 UN forces do require a status of forces agreement with the host nation to be present in the country.
Established in 2002, the AU adopted UN doctrine as a framework for its own doctrine, which informs the development of the African Standby Force (ASF). The ASF is made up of five military brigades from the continent’s five economic regional communities and is intended for rapid deployment for a multiplicity of peace operations including the right to intervene in a member state in circumstances of war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity.25 Forces under an AU command26 are AU OPCON27 to the regional organization’s force commander. Recently, the AU cooperated in military operations with the United Nations by deploying in advance of a UN force in Sudan’s Darfur region in 2006, which was later replaced by a UN-led UN-AU hybrid operation in 2007.28 A concern of the ASF is that AU forces are largely underfunded and poorly equipped. The AU currently leads the peace operation in Somalia.
In addition to formed units, UN missions function with individual UN military observers (MILOBS). UN MILOBS are unarmed and observe, record, and report on the status of formal agreements. If a UN military force is present, MILOBS work in conjunction with the force but under a separate chain of command. Even though the United States has not recently provided formed units under the command of foreign commanders, it has provided individual MILOBS to UN missions. For US MILOBS, the Secretary of the Army is executive agent for DOD support to UN missions, and the responsibility for administrative control is with the U.S. Military Observer Group in Washington.
The U.S. military will continue to operate as a joint force and will likely participate in multinational environments addressing conf lict and human suffering around the world. Command relationships at all levels will continue to challenge U.S. forces involved in all types of operations. Recently in Operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector (Libya), command relationships and employment of air and maritime assets impacted five U.S. combatant commands and four Services as well as the mission’s transfer of authority to the multinational community. Commanders must understand the realities of different levels of command relationships within U.S. chains of command and how American command relationships are impacted when those commanders or forces are assigned or attached to multinational coalition positions or operations. JFQ
Joint Publications Under Revision
JP 1-05, Religious Affairs
JP 2-0, Joint Intelligence
JP 2-01.3, Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment
JP 2-03, Geospatial Intelligence Support to Joint Operations
JP 3-00.1, Strategic Communication and Communications Strategy
JP 3-02, Amphibious Operations
JP 3-04, Joint Shipboard Helicopter Operations
JP 3-05, Special Operations
JP 3-05.1, Joint Special Operations Task Force Operations
JP 3-06, Joint Urban Operations
JP 3-07.3, Peace Operations
JP 3-07.4, Counterdrug Operations
JP 3-09.3, Close Air Support
JP 3-11, Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Environments
JP 3-12, Cyberspace Operations JP 3-13, Information Operations JP 3-14, Space Operations
JP 3-16, Multinational Operations
JP 3-17, Air Mobility Operations
JP 3-18, Joint Forcible Entry Operations JP 3-24, Counterinsurgency Operations
JP 3-26, Counterterrorism
JP 3-27, Homeland Defense
JP 3-28, Defense Support of Civil Authorities
JP 3-29, Foreign Humanitarian Assistance
JP 3-32, Command and Control for Joint Maritime Operations
JP 3-33, Joint Task Force Headquarters
JP 3-35, Deployment and Redeployment Operations
JP 3-40, Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
JP 3-41, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear Consequence Management
JP 3-57, Civil-Military Operations
JP 3-59, Meteorological and Oceanographic Operations
JP 3-60, Joint Targeting
JP 3-63, Detainee Operations JP 3-72, Nuclear Operations JP 4-0, Joint Logistics
JP 4-01, The Defense Transportation System JP 4-01.2, Sealift Support to Joint Operations JP 4-01.6, Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore
JP 4-02, Health Service Support
JP 4-08, Logistics in Support of Multinational Operations
JP 4-10, Operational Contract Support
JPs Revised (within last 6 months)
JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States
JP 1-06, Financial Management Support in Joint Operations
JP 2-01, Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations
JP 3-01, Countering Air and Missile Threats
JP 3-13.1, Electronic Warfare JP 3-13.3, Operations Security JP 3-13.4, Military Deception
JP 3-15.1, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Operations
JP 4-01.5, Joint Terminal Operations
JP 6-01, Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations