The challenges of winning the peace, as well as winning the war, have gained increasing attention among NATO members. This development reflects hard-learned lessons from Alliance experiences in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Despite attention at all levels, corresponding changes have yet to be institutionalized within NATO. This resistance to change is, in part, normal bureaucratic inertia, but it also reflects a lack of consensus about the extent to which NATO should be involved in establishing and sustaining a peace. Differences within the Alliance on appropriate roles for NATO beyond winning wars are coming to the surface in the debate over the immediate post-war tasks of stabilisation operations and initial reconstruction efforts, which we refer to in this report by the acronym “S&R”.
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Much of the controversy surrounding NATO’s roles in S&R is due to different understandings of what is implied by the terms “stabilisation and reconstruction” and disagreement on appropriate roles for civil and military organizations. Some would prefer to rule out “reconstruction” for NATO because such efforts are more appropriately handled by civil organizations. Others argue that because civilian organizations are not often able to operate in a combat zone, military organizations may need to undertake preliminary reconstruction efforts until they can be transferred to other organizations. We agree with the latter view.

We define S&R as the process to achieve a locally led and sustainable peace in a dangerous environment. The military role in this process is halting residual violence and ensuring order and security, including those reconstruction efforts required to repair enough damage to enable restoration of the most essential services.

Definitions are helpful but not adequate to cover the full scope of activities that may be associated with the term S&R. Our comparison of how the term is translated and used within the Alliance highlighted many differences, but generally found that we are talking about a dynamic process. However, the concept may be so broadly conceived that it is almost limitless, with enormous budget, planning, legal and other implications. Therefore, we believe S&R is best understood by building consensus on the specific requirements that may be needed. Building on considerable previous work, we have detailed those requirements in the Appendix.

Military-led S&R operations, as we conceive of them in this paper, are fully consistent with the North Atlantic Treaty (Article 2) and the roles authorized for NATO by the North Atlantic Council (nac) in the Balkans and Afghanistan. While we do not advocate a new role for NATO, we do suggest a more systematic approach to security efforts that previously have been generally ad hoc in nature.