Making Peace While Staying Ready for War: The Challenges of U.S. Military Participation in Peace Operations Section 3 of 7
December 1999

CHAPTER I

U.S. MILITARY PARTICIPATION IN PEACE OPERATIONS

In recent years, the U.S. military has taken part in a growing number of military operations other than war--operations designed to provide humanitarian aid, separate warring parties or otherwise force an end to hostilities, or monitor an existing peace agreement. As the number of such missions has increased, so have the resources that the United States devotes to them. That increase reflects international geopolitical changes since the end of the Cold War as well as changes in U.S. foreign and national security policies. Because of those changes, and because the United States can deploy its military forces to far-flung locations, the nation is now extensively involved in peace operations worldwide--a situation that worries some defense analysts.
 

CONCERNS ABOUT U.S. PARTICIPATION

The U.S. military's growing role in peace operations raises two major concerns. How well prepared are U.S. forces to participate in such operations? And how does that participation affect their ability to fulfill their primary mission, waging conventional wars?

During the Cold War, U.S. military forces were sized and structured to defend against the threat posed by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. Once the Cold War ended, the focus of U.S. force planning changed. Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) structures its forces to fight and win two major regional conflicts that break out almost simultaneously (on the theory that a regional aggressor might take advantage of U.S. involvement in one war to launch another war). Overall, U.S. military forces today are roughly one-third smaller than at the end of the Cold War. But for the most part, they include the same types of troops and weaponry that dominated U.S. military planning during that era.

One concern that arises from the increasing frequency of U.S. participation in peace operations is whether the military as now structured can meet the challenges involved in carrying out such operations on a routine basis. Peace operations may require a different mix of skills, equipment, and forces than conventional combat. Thus, a military designed for conventional war may have difficulty performing other missions on a continuing basis. Other issues of concern include whether the U.S. military contains too few of certain types of units to conduct peace operations, and whether capabilities are appropriately distributed between the active and reserve components if U.S. forces are going to be deployed overseas frequently or for long periods of time.

A separate, though related, concern is whether taking part in peace operations will detract from the U.S. military's ability to carry out its main mission of winning two nearly simultaneous major theater wars. That concern is a relatively recent one. During the Cold War, planners assumed that the forces capable of defending Europe from Soviet aggression would be more than adequate to meet U.S. commitments elsewhere without significantly affecting the military's ability to perform its primary conventional mission. Today, however, many analysts wonder how paying for and participating in peace operations affects both the readiness and the availability of U.S. military forces to conduct conventional warfare. Those types of concerns and various ways in which DoD could address them are the focus of this paper.
 

TYPES OF PEACE OPERATIONS

Defense planners use a variety of terms when referring to peacetime military operations. The U.S. military, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the United Nations all employ different terms, and even when they use the same ones, those terms can have different definitions.

The phrase "military operations other than war" encompasses the use of military forces short of all-out warfare. When conducted in a relatively benign environment, those operations include activities such as disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, security and advisory assistance, arms control, and peacekeeping. Other military peacetime operations attempt to keep situations from escalating into larger or more dangerous conflicts. Conducted in more hostile environments, they can include activities such as emergency evacuations of noncombatants and peace enforcement missions.(1) The phrase "military operations other than war" can be used interchangeably with "contingency operations" and "small-scale contingencies."

This paper is concerned primarily with peace operations. According to the Army's definitions, those operations come in three types.(2)

Those Army definitions are largely consistent with the ones in the DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (DoD Joint Publication 1-02), although that source does not include support to diplomacy as a type of peace operation. The definitions are also consistent with U.N. definitions and usage, although the United Nations also includes humanitarian and other operations among peace operations. This paper uses the Army definitions, except that it considers support-to-diplomacy missions a subset of peacekeeping operations.

Even when definitions are agreed upon, categorizing operations is not always a clear-cut exercise. Some operations are easily classified; others are not. Some can change from one type of mission to another over time. The current NATO operation in Bosnia is a good example of a mission that is difficult to classify. It could be considered a peacekeeping operation since a peace agreement is in force. However, it could have been considered a peace enforcement operation in its early stages since the possibility that hostilities would break out was very real. Moreover, the degree of commitment by the various parties to the peace agreement was questionable. In many cases, how an operation is classified depends on the classifier's perceptions about conditions on the ground and the parties' intent.
 

U.S. POLICY ON PEACE OPERATIONS

The United States has participated in an increasing number of international peace and humanitarian operations since the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991. In the aftermath of that conflict, President Bush noted in a speech to the United Nations that he had directed the Secretary of Defense to place new emphasis on peace operations.(3) That emphasis included training military units for peace operations and working with the United Nations to make the best use of U.S. military logistics and communications capabilities to support U.N. operations. President Bush also pledged direct U.S. support for U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian activities, including a renewed commitment to help fund them. Since taking office, President Clinton has continued to support U.S. involvement in peace operations, with various provisos.

Presidential Directives

In May 1994, President Clinton issued a directive spelling out his Administration's policies on peace operations. The Clinton Administration Policy on Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations (Presidential Decision Directive 25) argued that the United States should participate in a peace operation if that operation advances U.S. interests, its conclusion is tied to clear objectives and realistic criteria, and the consequences of inaction are unacceptable. The directive also proposed that, given mounting costs, the United States reduce the portion of U.N. peacekeeping costs for which it is responsible. Furthermore, the statement asserted that although the President might place U.S. forces under the "operational control" of a foreign commander, he would always retain ultimate command of those forces.

Directive 25 also reformed and clarified the management of peace operations within the U.S. government. One provision stated that the State Department would retain authority for peace operations that did not involve U.S. combat units and the Department of Defense would take the lead in any operation likely to involve combat or in which U.S. combat forces were participating. President Clinton also called for greater cooperation between the executive branch, the Congress, and the public in supporting U.S. efforts to maintain international peace.

Although the Administration supports peace operations as contributing to U.S. security and furthering U.S. policy interests, it acknowledges that such operations cannot substitute for the ability to fight and win wars. Former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake stated in February 1994 that although peace operations could advance some interests and foreign policy goals, they were "not at the center of our foreign or defense policy. Our armed forces' primary mission is not to conduct peace operations but to win war."(4) More recently, in its October 1998 publication A National Security Strategy for a New Century, the Administration reiterated both the likelihood of continuing military involvement in peace operations and the primacy of the military's mission to fight and win two major theater wars that occur nearly simultaneously.

Congressional Guidance

The Congress has also taken steps to clarify and limit the U.S. military's role in international peace operations. In January 1995, two bills were introduced in the House and Senate (the House National Security Revitalization Act, H.R. 7, and the Senate Peace Powers Act, S. 5) that would have clarified various reporting requirements and allowed DoD to credit certain expenditures in support of U.N. Security Council resolutions against the U.S. peacekeeping assessment. The bills would also have required that, before placing U.S. troops under the operational control of a U.N. commander, the President certify that doing so is necessary to protect national security interests. Neither bill was enacted, but they helped set the terms of the debate about the place of peace operations in national security strategy.

Since then, the Congress has codified its concerns in authorization and appropriation acts. Legislation for fiscal year 1999 included requests for reports from the Secretary of Defense to:

More recently, the Congress has debated U.S. participation in military operations in Yugoslavia. That debate focused on costs and funding and on the extent to which the President can use military forces in such operations without approval from the Congress.
 

HOW MILITARY OPERATIONS DURING PEACETIME HAVE CHANGED

Although the United States has conducted military operations in peacetime throughout its history, the nature of those operations has changed appreciably in recent decades in several ways. First, since 1980, most of the major operations involving U.S. forces have been conducted with assistance from other countries (see Table 1). Some of those operations occurred under the auspices of the United Nations, and others took place outside the U.N. umbrella but in concert with international partners. Only one--the U.S. intervention in Panama--was a unilateral action.
 


TABLE 1.
MAJOR U.S. PEACE OPERATIONS SINCE 1980
Location Dates
(Calendar years)
Peak Number of
U.S. Forces Involved

Unilateral Operations
 
Panamaa 1989-1990 14,000b     
 
Operations Initiated by the United Nations
 
Iraq and Kuwait 1991-present 35,000c
Somalia 1992-1994 25,800
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1993-1999 600d
Rwanda 1994 3,600
Haiti 1994-present 21,000
Bosniae 1996-present 26,000
Kosovo 1999-present 7,100
East Timor 1999-present 1,300f
 
Other International Operations
 
Sinai (Multinational Force and Observers) 1982-present 1,200
Lebanon 1982-1984 1,900
Grenadaa 1983 8,800

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on Nina M. Serafino, Military Interventions by U.S. Forces from Vietnam to Bosnia: Background, Outcomes, and "Lessons Learned" for Kosovo, CRS Report for Congress RL30184 (Congressional Research Service, May 20, 1999); Richard F. Grimmett, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1999, CRS Report for Congress RL30172 (Congressional Research Service, May 17, 1999); General Accounting Office, Peacekeeping: Assessment of U.S. Participation in the Multinational Force and Observers, GAO/NSIAD-95-113 (August 1995); Alfred B. Prados, Iraq Crisis: U.S. and Allied Forces, CRS Report for Congress 98-120 F (Congressional Research Service, September 2, 1998); Maureen Taft-Morales, Haiti Under President Preval: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue Brief IB96019 (Congressional Research Service, April 15, 1999); Robert L. Goldich and John C. Schaefer, U.S. Military Operations, 1965-1994 (Not Including Vietnam): Data on Casualties, Decorations, and Personnel Involved, CRS Report for Congress 94-529 F (Congressional Research Service, June 27, 1994); United Nations Department of Public Information, Peace and Security Section, United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (March 16, 1999), available at www.un.org/Depts/dpko/Missions/unpred_p.htm; Steven Woehrel and Julie Kim, Kosovo and U.S. Policy, CRS Issue Brief IB98041 (Congressional Research Service, September 13, 1999); and Bill Gertz, "Additional Troops Sent to East Timor," Washington Times, September 30, 1999, p. 1.
a. Not everyone would classify the operations in Panama and Grenada as peace operations, but they are included here for completeness.
b. Does not include 13,000 U.S. forces already in place in Panama.
c. Does not include troops involved in Operation Desert Storm.
d. Does not include forces supporting operations against Yugoslavia or relief efforts for Kosovar refugees. The U.N. Preventive Deployment Force mission officially ended on February 28, 1999.
e. NATO, rather than the United Nations, controls military operations in Bosnia. The peak number of U.S. forces involved includes troops stationed in the region but outside Bosnia who are supporting Bosnia operations.
f. Planned as of September 30, 1999.

Second, international peace operations have grown more frequent in the past decade. The U.N. Security Council approved the creation of only 13 peace operations between 1948 and 1978 and none at all from 1979 to 1987. But since then, the pattern has changed.(5) The Security Council established 38 peace operations between 1988 and 1999--nearly three times as many as in the previous 40 years.

Third, as the number of U.N. peace operations began increasing in the late 1980s, the character, scope, and size of those missions changed as well. More recent operations have involved a much wider variety of activities, many of which are completely new to U.N. peace efforts. They include supervising or monitoring elections, protecting designated safe areas from the threat of force, ensuring the partial demilitarization of specific regions, guarding confiscated or surrendered weapons, ensuring delivery of humanitarian relief supplies, and helping to reconstruct governmental or police functions after a civil war.(6) Moreover, the number of troops engaged in U.N. peace operations has soared, from about 13,000 in 1988 to almost 80,000 in 1993.(7)

Last, but not least, major deployments of U.S. forces for peace operations have increased in both frequency and size in recent years (see Figure 1). During the 1980s, the largest-scale U.S. military operations were the one conducted in Grenada in 1983, when a force of about 9,000 intervened after a coup to restore order and a democratic government, and the one conducted in Panama in 1989, when about 14,000 troops joined the 13,000 already in Panama to depose and arrest General Manuel Noriega.(8) During the 1990s, in contrast, U.S. forces were engaged in peace operations at strengths of 20,000 or more in Somalia (1993), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1996), and Iraq and Kuwait (1998).(9)
 


FIGURE 1.
NUMBER OF U.S. FORCES DEPLOYED TO MAJOR PEACE OPERATIONS, BY OPERATION, CALENDAR YEARS 1982-1998
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on Nina M. Serafino, Military Interventions by U.S. Forces from Vietnam to Bosnia: Background, Outcomes, and "Lessons Learned" for Kosovo, CRS Report for Congress RL30184 (Congressional Research Service, May 20, 1999); Richard F. Grimmett, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1999, CRS Report for Congress RL30172 (Congressional Research Service, May 17, 1999); General Accounting Office, Peacekeeping: Assessment of U.S. Participation in the Multinational Force and Observers, GAO/NSIAD-95-113 (August 1995); General Accounting Office, Military Operations: Impact of Operations Other Than War on the Services Varies, GAO/NSIAD-99-69 (May 1999); Alfred B. Prados, Iraq Crisis: U.S. and Allied Forces, CRS Report for Congress 98-120 F (Congressional Research Service, September 2, 1998); Maureen Taft-Morales, Haiti Under President Preval: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue Brief IB96019 (Congressional Research Service, April 15, 1999); Stephen Daggett, Bosnia Peacekeeping: An Assessment of Administration Cost Estimates, CRS Report for Congress 95-1165 F (Congressional Research Service, December 4, 1995); Robert L. Goldich and John C. Schaefer, U.S. Military Operations, 1965-1994 (Not Including Vietnam): Data on Casualties, Decorations, and Personnel Involved, CRS Report for Congress 94-529 F (Congressional Research Service, June 27, 1994); General Accounting Office, Bosnia Peace Operation: Mission, Structure, and Transition Strategy of NATO's Stabilization Force, GAO/NSIAD-99-19 (October 1998); General Accounting Office, Bosnia: Military Services Providing Needed Capabilities but a Few Challenges Emerging, GAO/NSIAD-98-160 (April 1998); and Theodros S. Dagne, Somalia: Prospects for Peace and U.S. Involvement, CRS Report for Congress RL30065 (Congressional Research Service, February 17, 1999).
a. Average figure for 1991 through 1997.
b. Actual peak forces in 1984 were less than 1,900.

 

FUNDING FOR PEACE OPERATIONS

Besides deploying more and more soldiers for peace operations, the United States has spent an increasingly large amount of money on such operations. Between 1988 and 1998, appropriations for those operations soared from less than $100 million to almost $4 billion (see Figure 2). The United States provides that funding through several vehicles: by helping to pay for U.N. peace operations, by providing funds to carry out international peace operations outside the aegis of the United Nations, and by allocating money directly to DoD to support the use of its forces in peace missions.
 



FIGURE 2.
U.S. FUNDING FOR PEACE OPERATIONS, BY TYPE OF COST, FISCAL YEARS 1981-1998
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on Stephen Daggett and Nina M. Serafino, Costs of Major U.S. Wars and Recent U.S. Overseas Military Operations, CRS Report for Congress 94-995 F (Congressional Research Service, May 5, 1997); Nina M. Serafino, Peacekeeping: Issues of U.S. Military Involvement, CRS Issue Brief IB94040 (Congressional Research Service, September 13, 1999); Nina M. Serafino, The U.S. Military in International Peacekeeping: The Funding Mechanism, CRS Report for Congress 94-95 F (Congressional Research Service, February 8, 1994); General Accounting Office, Peacekeeping: Assessment of U.S. Participation in the Multinational Force and Observers, GAO/NSIAD-95-113 (August 1995); and Marjorie Ann Browne, United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue Brief IB90103 (Congressional Research Service, August 20, 1999).

As the number and scale of U.N.-sanctioned peace operations have increased, so have their costs to the United States. Since 1992, the country has been assessed between 30 percent and 32 percent of the total costs of U.N. peace missions. The United States provides that funding directly to the United Nations through the State Department's appropriation (under "contributions to international peacekeeping activities" in the international organizations and conferences account). U.S. payments to the United Nations for peace operations increased from less than $40 million in 1988 to a peak of more than $1 billion in 1994, although they have since decreased to about $260 million in 1998.

Those payments have been controversial for many years. Some observers believe that the United States is paying more than its share of the costs. The amount of U.N. assessments to the United States grew so dramatically between 1988 and 1994 that the Congress balked at paying the full assessment. As a result, in the conference report accompanying the State Department appropriation bill for fiscal year 1994, the Congress told the Administration to notify the United Nations that the country would not accept an assessment greater than 25 percent for new or expanded peace operations. Since then, the Congress has seldom authorized payment of the full U.N. assessment. As a consequence, the country was more than $970 million (in 1998 dollars) in arrears on its payments for U.N. peace operations at the end of 1998.(10) The issue of how much the United States should contribute is likely to continue to be contentious during future authorization and appropriation debates.

Besides funding U.N. operations, the United States also makes voluntary contributions to help support international peace operations outside the auspices of the United Nations. One such operation is the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai Peninsula, which is an independent international coalition created by Egypt and Israel with help from the United States. The MFO has been in place since 1982. Funding for that type of contribution is paid from State Department funds appropriated for peacekeeping operations. Annual appropriations for that account have amounted to less than $100 million for the past five years.

The Department of Defense also incurs costs when the United States deploys its own forces to peace operations. Because of the increased participation of U.S. forces in such operations, the incremental costs to support those forces have risen even faster than the costs of supporting international peace operations. (Incremental costs are the costs above what DoD would have spent in the absence of any peace operations.) Since 1990, the annual cost to DoD of participating in peace operations has risen from about $200 million to more than $3.6 billion. However, the exact figures may be somewhat uncertain because calculating incremental costs can be difficult. Although it may be fairly straightforward to identify extra costs such as imminent-danger pay, it can be less so with consumable items such as food or fuel. In the case of fuel, calculating the incremental cost for peace operations would involve taking the total amount used in a given year and subtracting from it the amount that DoD would have used under normal operating conditions--something that is possible in theory but has proved difficult in practice.(11)


1. Department of the Army, Operations, Field Manual 100-5 (June 14, 1993), pp. 2-0 and 13-0.

2. Department of the Army, Peace Operations, Field Manual 100-23 (December 30, 1994), pp. 2-7.

3. Mark M. Lowenthal, Peacekeeping in Future U.S. Foreign Policy, CRS Report for Congress 94-260 S (Congressional Research Service, May 10, 1994), p. 3.

4. Victoria K. Holt, Briefing Book on Peacekeeping: The U.S. Role in United Nations Peace Operations (Washington, D.C.: Council for a Livable World Education Fund, December 1994), p. 14.

5. That change could reflect a change in the use of vetoes in the Security Council. The five permanent members exercised their veto power 72 times during the 1980s but only nine times between 1990 and February 1999.

6. Adam Roberts, "The Crisis in U.N. Peacekeeping," Survival, vol. 36, no. 3 (Autumn 1994), p. 97.

7. That number has since declined to about 14,000 in November 1998. However, that figure does not include the 31,000 troops in Bosnia under the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), which was authorized by the U.N. Security Council. For information about current and completed peace operations, see the Web site of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations (www.un.org/Depts/dpko).

8. The United States conducted the Grenada operation at the request of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, with a small group of forces from Caribbean nations, whereas the Panama operation was unilateral. Although one could argue that those operations were designed to bring peace and stability to the region, such missions would probably not be considered peace operations. Nevertheless, they are included here for completeness.

9. For additional information about operations that have involved U.S. forces, see Richard F. Grimmett, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1999, CRS Report for Congress RL30172 (Congressional Research Service, May 17, 1999); and Robert L. Goldich and John C. Schaefer, U.S. Military Operations, 1965-1994 (Not Including Vietnam): Data on Casualties, Decorations, and Personnel Involved, CRS Report for Congress 94-529 F (Congressional Research Service, June 27, 1994).

10. For more details about the ongoing dispute, see Marjorie Ann Browne, United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue Brief IB90103 (Congressional Research Service, August 20, 1999).

11. In a report about DoD's process of estimating incremental costs for fiscal years 1994 and 1995, the General Accounting Office (GAO) identified about $100 million in overstated incremental costs, primarily because the services failed to adjust for normal operating and training costs that were not incurred because of special deployments. However, GAO also found $171 million in understated incremental costs, including personnel costs such as imminent-danger pay and family-separation pay. GAO could not conclude whether the overall costs reported by DoD were, on balance, too high or too low, only that DoD's system did not lend itself to calculating the incremental costs of specific operations and therefore could not determine with any precision what costs should be attributed to peace operations. See General Accounting Office, Contingency Operations: DoD's Reported Costs Contain Significant Inaccuracies, GAO/NSIAD-96-115 (May 1996), p. 4.


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