Intelligence Assessment and Risk Analysis in Peacekeeping and Peace Support Operations – A necessity.
Julian Harston, United Nations, Assistant Secretary General (rtd)
Document: 2010 JMAC Speech Julian Harston
‘We are fully aware of your long-standing limitations in gathering information. The limitations are inherent in the very nature of the United Nations and therefore of any operation conducted by it.’
UN Secretary-General U Thant to the Commander of the UN Operation in the Congo (UNOC), Lt-Gen. Kebbede Guebre, in a coded cable on 24 September 1962.
“Through error, misjudgment and an inability to recognize the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to save the people of Srebrenica from mass murder.”
At times today it was difficult to distinguish the fighters on this side of the bridge from those on the other side. They wore the same clothes, the same wigs. They carried the same weapons. (Fighters on this side have a penchant for spray-painting their guns.) Neither side seemed to have any purpose beyond defeating the enemy. All sides said they were tired of fighting. One soldier, wearing dirty soccer cleats, described how he came to this side of the bridge. Last February, he was captured by government forces and sent to fight. Then he was captured by rebels and sent to a training camp for three weeks and then sent to fight again. He said he found his former commander and had him executed’.
New York Times on Liberia 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen
In some ways I am here under false pretences.
I have never served in a Mission with a fully functional and useful JMAC. It is slightly daunting to see in front of me a number of people who have served in JMACs in Missions, and even one or two JMAC Chiefs. It is not however in my nature to remain daunted for long!
I propose to make it up to you in other ways.
What I do bring to the table is extensive experience in the management of Peacekeeping Operations, including twice as SRSG and once as Deputy SRSG. What I also bring, and I can be franker about it than I have been used to since I retired from the United Nations 10 months ago, more than 25 years in the Intelligence business. It is one hundred and one years ago this month that the modern United Kingdom Intelligence Services were born.
“In October of 1909, the Royal Navy’s intelligence chief, was tasked with finding a suitable candidate to head up the foreign section of a new agency to be called the Secret Service Bureau. The Admiral scrawled a short letter marked “Private” and had it delivered to a semi-retired commander living on a houseboat in the south of England.. “My dear Mansfield Cumming, You may perhaps like a new job. If so I have something good I can offer you and if you would like to come and see me on Thursday about noon I will tell you what it is.” Cumming had fought in operations against Malay pirates before seasickness saw him declared unfit for service at sea. Aged 50 when he received his friend’s letter, he accepted the offer and was the first head of what would become MI6, the British Secret Service.”
Leaders in Government, in the Military, have long recognized the need for sound Intelligence assessments and they have put them to good use? What can we learn from that?
The UN was set up not because keeping the peace, upholding human rights, easing poverty and taming terrorism was easy, but because it was hard.
In august 2010 154 women, girls and boys were raped by rebel forces in and around Luvungi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Many were said to have been gang-raped in their homes, in front of their families. Among them were four babies, aged one month, six months, a year and 18 months. United Nations peacekeepers were stationed barely 19 miles away. After events of such horror, it is not unreasonable to wonder what they thought they were there for.
Little is simple in the chaos of the DRC, and the exact sequence of events leading to this startling inaction remains murky. Certainly, UN forces were aware that rebels from a Rwandan group known as the FDLR, and also from the Congolese Mai Mai militia, were active in the area. At least two UN patrols are known to have passed through villages while these attacks were taking place, without subsequently reporting anything untoward. Officially, UN forces remained in the dark for a further two weeks.
Rape and violence are endemic in the DRC. Before this latest attack, 8,300 rapes were reported in eastern Congo last year alone. Peacekeepers themselves have been accused of numerous outrages, including looting, rape, and complicity to mineral exploitation. President Kabila has repeatedly demanded their withdrawal, claiming they have failed in their mandate. Yet his command of his own military has not suggested that he is remotely capable of keeping order either. The army in the DRC is often charged with behaving little better than some rebel groups, and the invasion of Luvingi itself is thought to have been the result of its local presence being suddenly removed.
The Secretary General, declared the rapes of Luvungi “an outrage” and sent two senior UN representatives to the country. The move was, of course, welcome. Yet the UN’s failure in the DRC is already glaring, and this latest atrocity is merely a symptom of that. It is not enough merely to provide blue berets. Tasks must be clearly defined and lines of communication must, at least, be competent.
The efficacy of the UN as a force for stability in the world is not a given. It must be earned, time and again.
When it fails at the delicate business of sanctions and international pressure, that is one thing. When it fails at even noticing the brutal rampages of a militia, despite having an armed force a mere 19 miles away, that is far worse. ( editorial. London Times. Sept 2010)
For many years the UN has been very shy about the use of the word Intelligence. People from different cultural and political environments have always reacted unpredictably to the thought that the United Nations might possess its own Intelligence capability, just as they have always reacted, some might say entirely predictably, to the thought that the UN might possess a standing Military Force………..its own Army.
But let us not be afraid of the word ‘intelligence’. I agree with the excellent UN General Cammaert who said ‘intelligence is decision-support.
Everything else is information.
Without tailored decision-support at the strategic level, the mandate will not be correct. Without tailored decision-support at the operational level, the force structure and the timing of forces will not be correct. Finally, without decision-support at the tactical level, UN forces and the UN Mission will be at risk’. What is clear is that the principals of war remain the basic tenets of military planning and action –whether in a peace support or peace enforcement operation. First, you must have the right force, with the right equipment and training, at the right place and time in order to conduct operations. Then you have to apply those principles, within a doctrinal frame work and specific rules of engagement (ROE), to execute those operations.
In order to accomplish all of this in a peacekeeping environment, you need to plan correctly, based on the realities of the situation and allowing for possible escalation in the expected levels of conflict and destabilisation that may be encountered. Our goal should be early understanding, not just early warning. We need to understand why certain things are happening, not just what is happening.
We need, as well, a dynamic assessment/reassessment process, not a onetime event or static measurement. In particular in terms of gauging the likelihood of crimes and violations against the local population, the rates and direction of change in key indicators are critical. As Robert Luck said recently in New York, ‘We need a moving picture, not a snapshot. Crimes against local populations in such situations have multiple dimensions, so we cannot focus on a single factor or event.
But let us be clear: early warning is not an end in itself. Early warning without early and effective action would only serve to reinforce stereotypes of UN fecklessness, of its penchant for words over deeds. The Secretary‐General’s strategy should seek to overcome that prevalent perception.. alas all too often it does not.
Planning needs an accurate information base and specific intelligence products. It has, however, been the experience of many Heads of Mission and Force Commanders that the successful execution of operations and remaining within the decision cycle of belligerent, spoiler forces in a complex multidimensional peacekeeping environment, is inevitably problematic, as there is rarely adequate operational- and tactical-level intelligence available. The challenge of intelligence in peacekeeping is that these operations differ considerably from traditional military combat or ‘kinetic’ (awful word!) operations. Different mandates, special rules of engagement, belligerent ‘rules of the game’− almost everything is unique, and this requires that the operational intelligence unit reorients and adjusts itself accordingly. It is important, in conducting peacekeeping intelligence analyses, to understand very clearly that traditional military indicators are not the primary signals that must be perceived and integrated. Unconventional combatants do not drive tanks, they drive ‘technicals‘ − 4×4 pick-up trucks with machine guns crudely mounted in the back. The complex operational environment is unpredictable and asymmetric, and it is precisely in these situations that operations must be ‘intelligence-driven’ from the perspective of being initiated, guided by and based on accurate, relevant, real-time intelligence products.
From force generation down to the utilization of a section of infantry on the ground in a UN PSO, information is needed − accurate, current information, and specifically the analysed information product that we call ‘intelligence’. This is becoming more critical, due to the change from traditional PKOs to increasingly complex multidimensional PKOs in much more volatile circumstances.
While the need for accurate, current intelligence is apparent, there is even now a reluctance to classify and define intelligence in the UN structures clearly. The term ‘military information’ is still being used in many quarters, despite the fact that a mission needs political, humanitarian, socio-economic, security and other forms of intelligence, rather than the mere dispositions, capabilities and actions of militarised forces.
Progress has been made. Especially important has been the emerging concept, doctrine, and practical field implementation of the Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC) capabilities.
In an excellent paper on Haiti Walter Dorn says
‘ In the slums of Haiti, where pistol and machete wielding gangs dominated the populace through murder, intimidation, extortion, and terror, a UN peacekeeping mission managed to established law, order, and government control. The United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) succeeded by ‘taking on’ the gangs in a series of military and police ‘search and arrest’ operations in 2006-07. The achievement was made possible by thorough ‘intelligence preparation of the environment’. His paper tells the story of the ‘intelligence-led’ military-police-civil operations and how they transformed the Haitian slum of Cite´ Soleil from a foreboding place inaccessible to police for years to one in which the UN workers could safely walk its streets.
The functions, structures, problems and challenges of the mission’s intelligence capability are described, especially the work of the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC). Human intelligence proved to be key, while technologies helped considerably. Within the United Nations, intelligence remains a controversial and sensitive matter but the Haiti mission provides a valuable model of how to gather and use actionable intelligence. ‘
You will have plenty of time over the next few days to broaden your knowledge of what JMACs are and how they work. The essence of my keynote address will therefore be “why do we need them”, both on a macro and micro level.
Today I will first provide a quick overview of the development of peacekeeping in recent years, outlining some of the issues that are at play.
Then some reflections on the field, focusing on my own role, that of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. And finally some personal reflections on the problems and challenges of UN Peacekeeping in 2010. I hope that these thoughts– which are personal, not official, in nature – may be useful in sparking our follow-on discussion.
Recent evolution in peacekeeping
After a decade of considerable surge, it appears that UN peacekeeping may now be headed toward a period of consolidation and perhaps even contraction. This does not mean that our task will be an easy one. The challenges we are facing today in many ways remain daunting. UN peacekeeping operations are deployed to environments that are inhospitable, remote and dangerous, sometimes with inadequate logistical support and resources. The diversity of our missions is likely to continue to grow, as are the expectations in terms of what UN peacekeeping should deliver. Missions’ mandates are increasingly more complex and multidimensional. While we still have traditional missions supporting a ceasefire agreement between two or more parties, we also manage multi-dimensional missions, supporting a peace process and national authorities after civil conflict, on the other end of the spectrum. These missions cover vast territories, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, and have complex mandates ranging from supporting elections and state capacity, to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, strengthening the rule of law and improving the management of the security sector. Other missions provide security and protection in response to a conflict. Increasingly, UN peacekeepers are called upon to take a more robust approach to implement complex mission mandates, and to deter spoilers to a peace process, to the mandate, and to mission personnel. They are called upon to protect civilians, including from sexual violence in conflict. This carries significant policy and operational challenges
Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen the emergence of a new type of operation, which also seeks to address the underlying causes of conflict. These operations have found themselves involved in activities to promote democratic practices; to build sustainable institutions; and to enhance respect for human rights. They essentially attempt to enable a society to complete within six to seven years an evolutionary process that would ordinarily take decades or centuries.
This change in expectations initially brought a rapid increase in peacekeeping operations from 1988-1994, including considerable successes in Namibia, El Salvador and Cambodia. However, this process of turning to more complex multi-tasked Missions was temporarily halted and reversed from ’95 to ’98, following major setbacks in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda. The subsequent deployments in East Timor, Kosovo and DRC, as well as elsewhere in Africa at the end of the ‘90s marked a new period of growth.
In the year 2000 the level of deployment was 20,000, on 1 June 2010 some 125,000 military, police and civilian peacekeepers were deployed in 16 Peacekeeping operations, one AU operation and 10 Political Missions, budgeted at a total of $8 billion.
The UN operates and maintains more than 300 medical facilities, almost 300 aircraft, 17,000 vehicles, and 40,000 computers. In the last year, we chartered over 900 aircraft and 20 ships to move cargo and people. The annual procurement bill for peacekeeping now approaches $2.7billion annually. Each of these figures represents an historic high.
Management of peacekeeping in the field
I would now like to discuss the organization of peacekeeping in the field, and in particular the role of the SRSG.
As the scope of peacekeeping mandates has grown, the responsibilities of the SRSG, the Head of the Mission, have grown likewise. In order to accomplish his or her tasks, today’s Head of Mission must possess an unlikely blend of political/diplomatic expertise; technical expertise (or at least managerial skills); and a capacity to frame a vision, and to convey that vision to others. The presence of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the field is the expression of the political will of the international community to solve the problem
Despite its practical dimensions, peacekeeping is, as I began by saying, a political instrument, above all. It is, therefore, clear that an SRSG must have diplomatic skills. These skills are indispensable in the case of today’s more typical multi-dimensional operations, the roles of which are often highly sensitive and intrusive, and have little chance of success unless their leadership can read a situation accurately, and can speak with political nuance to a number of interlocutors.
The SRSG must convey to the host country or countries that he or she is a conduit to power outside of the conflict, and make their viewpoint somehow comprehensible in a productive way.
He must make it clear to local politicians that he understands their concerns; even if these may appear unconstructive He must foster respect, without evoking antipathy.
He must be able to describe the situation to those in New York – within the senior leadership of DPKO and to the Security Council and representatives of other key States. It is necessary to bear in mind the fact that New York’s leadership may be suffering from an overdose of crises, and what may seem a vital point in the field may be arriving on a very full desk. In such a situation, diplomatic skills may be essential for internal communications too.
Second, as head of a field operation, an SRSG must be an effective manager. The SRSG must be able to work in the nuanced environment of the United Nations where – even more than most other institutions — power is not determined by an
organigramme, but by personal relationships. The SRSG’s power comes from persuasion as well as influence and the authority of his position.
In today’s operations, an SRSG must be able to work with and harmonize the efforts of an enormously varied number of actors on the ground. Military, police, political and human rights experts, logisticians and administrators will all expect to have a sympathetic hearing from him or her – and, in the case of some operations, which have assumed the role of a transitional administration, the SRSG may have to deal with the breadth of issues that confront any modern State, ranging from port authorities, to waste disposal, to electricity grids.
He or she must have the key attributes of a good manager – be able to select a superb team, to listen, to motivate and encourage, and to delegate.
Third, the SRSG must to some degree be a visionary.
There is a great deal of latitude in the guidance provided by the Security Council, and the Security Council mandate is a starting point, not a finished picture. An SRSG may influence the Council’s way of seeing things; but, at the same time, even once the Council has spoken, the SRSG may and indeed must interpret how this is to be done on the ground. An SRSG should have the capacity to translate a piece of dry, diplomatic prose crafted through painstaking negotiations in New York into a living document that guides daily reality for those on the ground. Alongside a fine political nose and intuition for what the political traffic will bear, the SRSG must have histrionic gifts and a reserve of self-confidence so that he or she can make this something real, clearly conveying conviction as to the importance of the international values that this resolution should advance.
The SRSG must also be able to speak to the wider public. Increasingly, there is a need to convey to the world’s media what is happening. Likewise in the field, depending on the operation, it may be useful and even indispensable for the SRSG to be a public figure. An extreme version of this is those exceptional cases where the SRSG has been asked to serve as a transitional administrator; in such instances, the SRSG must be willing, to some degree, to be ready to “embody” the will of the people in the Mission area, like any other Head of State.
For an SRSG in the field, this new dynamic situation in the field translates into a particularly demanding and multi-faceted role, which can only be discharged effectively with a keen awareness of the views of all key players in this enterprise, including, in particular, the military. Although these demands can be daunting at times, and officers need to be both resourceful and resilient to cope well, there is tremendous satisfaction when analysis and action come together successfully to bring stability to war-torn States and communities. The key ingredient to success in my experience is the right information at the right time.
……………..And now as promised some personal observations on the state of Peacekeeping in 2010, and where we should go from here.
Peacekeeping is a flagship-endeavour of the United Nations and represents the whole of the Organisation. Millions of people depend, every day, on UN peacekeepers.
Peacekeeping operations can only succeed in the right political context, with a readiness for peace on the ground, and a will to work for it in major capitals. No matter how good are the plans developed in New York, or how persuasive a case the Department may make to the Security Council or to troop-contributors, any peace effort will be doomed to failure without these prerequisites.
The recent surge in peacekeeping activity came at a cost. Few current missions enjoy the full degree of Member State and senior management attention that we would ideally wish to give to them, particularly in terms of reflection and review of strategy, policy, and effective public communications. In operational terms, priority given to expedite the speed of deployment to some missions has come at the expense of ongoing support to others. The total numbers of experienced and qualified staff required, particularly at managerial levels, far exceeds the supply currently available to us for field deployment.
We have over 22,000 authorized civilian posts in the field. The average peacekeeper is 46 years old. Nearly 60% of all international civilian staff is professionals. Forty per cent are in the technical category. Forty-four per cent of our staff in the field has less than one year and nearly 60% of our staff in the field has fewer than two years of experience in peacekeeping.
There is a zero-sum element to the generation of troops and police from Member States, many of which also have to satisfy competing global peacekeeping priorities, notably in Iraq (the US-led Coalition), Afghanistan (NATO), and the Balkans (the EU and NATO in Bosnia and Kosovo).
The circumstances now present in the Sudan, the DRC (the size of Western Europe), Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Darfur and elsewhere are infinitely more complex. We are mandated to assist complex state-restoration and building processes after decades of conflict. The peace agreements we are tasked to implement do not enjoy universal participation and support. The number of local factions proliferates rapidly within a constellation of shifting alliances, uncertain allegiances and lucrative opportunities for economic gain. The honeymoon effects of the end of the Cold War have been replaced with strains on the international system exacerbated by divisions over the Iraq war, responses to the “Global War on Terror”, and increased competition for scarce energy resources and global markets.
The challenges for our biggest, more recent and complex missions – UNMIS and UNAMID in Sudan and MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo – are daunting in their scale and complexity.
In Sudan, the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is facing serious tests. Delays in the preparation of the referendum and the Sudan-wide elections, in combination with escalating inter-tribal violence in Southern Sudan represents a threat to the stability of Sudan as a whole. Does anyone believe that Khartoum will allow a Referendum to go ahead if it does not believe it is going to win it?
In Darfur, the need for a political solution remains. Despite UNAMID’s efforts, displaced civilians remain vulnerable. Furthermore, troop and equipment capacities still lag behind the ambitious provisions of the mandate.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new political and security landscape has emerged in the eastern part of the country over the past year. New opportunities have arisen to address the presence of the FDLR – who are being repatriated to Rwanda in increasing numbers – as well as the LRA and residual Congolese armed groups. A number of serious challenges remain, including in protecting civilians. Yet this new landscape also presents opportunities to re-establish state authority in the east and to build a credible national army and police. But there is increasing pressure from the Government for the UN to leave…before it can really set any of its achievements in concrete. Withdrawal of Blue Helmets has already begun.
We are constantly asked to do more while our political leverage on recalcitrant parties has diminished. Worse, there is a false expectation that Blue Helmets can make up the difference through force. Peacekeepers can help implement a political strategy that enjoys international support; they cannot serve as a substitute for the absence of one.
In the face of the high operational risk the UN is facing, it would be welcome if others could shoulder more of the burden. At the same time, we need to recognize that, in many instances, no other organization is politically acceptable or operationally capable of mounting the kind of response required. The African Union has encountered what have turned out to be impossible challenges in mounting and sustaining its first deployment in Darfur. The AU is several years away from having the capacity to launch multiple missions, a capacity DPKO is actively helping to build. That NATO will deploy any sizeable new missions, including to Africa, is currently unlikely given the extent to which it has its hands full in Afghanistan and Kosovo. The EU is developing capacity, but, at present, they are focused primarily on the Balkans, with only small niche activities beyond Europe. In the foreseeable future, regional deployments to Africa and Asia will more likely be in emergency short-term support of UN peacekeeping efforts, rather than in place of them. The capacity of regional organisations should be built to meet some of the need. But, the reality remains that none can and will likely develop the same capacity as the UN to field multiple, multidisciplinary peacekeeping operations, concurrently, in all quarters of the globe
We are trying to do more and we are trying to do it better. As a successor to the ten year old Brahimi Report the Department of Peacekeeping has developed a new policy document called New Horizon which was presented by the Secretary- General in January 2010
The priority agenda comprises four principal building blocks aimed at bolstering the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping and which are indeed a continuation of the Brahimi legacy: i) Policy Development: developing practical guidance on critical roles for modern United Nations peacekeeping; ii) Capability Development: developing and sustaining the required capabilities to support peacekeeping now and into the future; iii) Field Support Strategy: developing stronger United Nations field support arrangements; and iv) Planning and Oversight: ensuring more effective arrangements for planning, management and oversight.
The question of whether UN peacekeeping can take on more must be seen in the light of few global alternatives. Of all the world’s organizations, the UN is least able to turn its back on those whose very lives hang in the balance. As Brahimi himself said to the General assembly earlier this year “There will be plenty of surprises over the next decade. I am fairly certain that one thing will remain constant though and that is that UN peacekeeping shall continue to be in high demand” and he went on to repeat the plea he made ten years ago
“ I call on the leaders of the world to strengthen the capacity of the United nations to fully accomplish the mission which is indeed its very raison d’être: to help communities engulfed in strife and to maintain or restore peace”.
Yet, the dangers of taking on too much cannot be ignored either.
The catastrophic failure of any one operation could undermine confidence in UN peacekeeping and in the UN as a whole. A sensible measured assessment of the situation before committing the UN, and consistent high quality intelligence after deployment will go a long way to avoiding such a failure……………if the UN hierarchy and the legislative bodies allow it.
No sensible Government in the world and indeed no sensible multinational operates without the capability to provide its leadership with well informed balanced assessments upon which to make tactical and strategic decisions. The UN has not been good at this in the past. If it is to do better in the future it will not just need to develop systems but attract the best and the brightest, both military and civilian, to make those systems work. Intelligence can often be the difference between success and failure. It is up to you and those who follow you to make it a success. In ending let me quote from Heidi Tagliavini’s extraordinary report on the Russo/Georgian conflict of last year, published last year:
Thus a series of mistakes, misperceptions and missed opportunities on all sides accumulated to a point where the danger of an explosion of violence became real. Unlike in the early 1990s, what was about to happen in August 2008 was no longer a localised conflict in a remote part of the world but a short, bitter armed confrontation between two states, fought in the battlefield but also on live television, and carrying major international implications.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the UN and others made costly mistakes because decision makers simply did not know enough to avoid them.