The Role of the Military in Reconstruction: Examining Expeditionary Economics and Provisional Reconstruction Teams
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A new term has entered the economic reconstruction lexicon: “expeditionary economics.” While there is some disagreement over the exact meaning of the term and the objectives of the concept, a consensus definition could be summarized as the use of military personnel to rebuild the economy in post-conflict and post-disaster nations in situations where the environment is too dangerous for civilian personnel and aid agencies. The evolution of expeditionary economics is the result of the recognition of the substantial financial and logistical resources possessed by the military and the understanding that economic development is essential for the long-term success of military interventions. In addition, the military is uniquely positioned to operate in unstable, dangerous, and remote environments and to mobilize at short notice. However, the expansion of the role of the military beyond war fighting to economic reconstruction is an acknowledgement that military operations alone will not achieve stabilization in conflict or disaster areas. But, expeditionary economics does not advocate deploying the military for economic reconstruction functions. It is utilizing military already engaged at a location to enhance stability. While several countries were actively engaged in rebuilding the economy in Afghanistan and Iraq, the term appears to have gained the most traction in the United States. This reflects a change in foreign policy outlook and the role of the United States in engaging in nation building and its associated tasks. The role of the forces in reconstruction is time limited and is a sequencing issue. It involves reconstruction activities after conflict and before civilian control of reconstruction.
Advocating for nonviolent change, the Centre for Conflict Studies emphasizes research and practice to better understand conflicts and manage them effectively in order to bring changes to current inequalities and social injustices. Our quarterly magazine, Reflections, will be published in January, April, July, and October. This article appears in volume 2, number 2. 2012-04-04.
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