August 2, 2007

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, discusses the need to apply the “Total Force” concept to the evolving architecture of the new United States military command for Africa (AFRICOM).

According to the article, the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report last year refined the U.S. military doctrine of “Total Force” so that it is now consider to be made up of “Active Component, Reserve Component, civilians, and contractors” who together constitute the nation’s warfighting capability and capacity, noting that “in a reconfigured Total Force, a new balance of skills must be coupled with greater accessibility to people so that the right forces are available at the right time. Both uniformed and civilian personnel must be readily available to joint commanders.” The document specifically mentioned the integration of contractors into the Total Force: “By factoring contractors into their planning, Combatant Commanders can better determine their mission needs” and thus “provide a continuum of service, build the right skills and design an information-age human capital strategy will yield a Total Force that is better able to meet the diverse challenges the United States will face in coming years.

Dr. Pham argues:

This changing character of the Total Force ought to be especially noteworthy in AFRICOM for three reasons… First, quite simply, given demands on personnel in other fronts in the war on terrorism… AFRICOM is likely to get few personnel of its own to deploy. Second, as outlined by the President, a lot of AFRICOM’s work will likely involve “stability operations”…[which] involve skill sets and capabilities which are difficult enough to find in government in general, much less in a conventional military whose primary mission was and is to win wars. Third, a significant part of AFRICOM’s work will be…address[ing] the gap between the expressed desire of African countries to assume greater responsibility for regional security and the critical limitations on the actual capacities of their military forces…[T]he private sector is uniquely poised to efficiently deliver this type of service.

Consequently Dr. Pham concludes that mastering the potential of “Total Force” will be “critical to the long-term success of AFRICOM’s mission.”

To read the full text of Dr. Pham’s article, “‘Total Force’ for AFRICOM,” click here.