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stability operations are predicated on identify-

tionBattalions (NMCBs or Seabees) have ing and reducing the causes of instability."3 This
supported the Navy's combat mission and complex mission requires a mix of skil sets fro~
Since promoted
World War goodwil through
II, Naval construction
Mobile Constrc- across the military, agencies of the federal govern-
,projects. In 2005 then-Secretaiy of Defense Donald ment, civilian contractors, and nongovernmental
Rumsfeld challenged all militar services to adapt organizations. The solution chosen for integrated
existing capabilities to advance "U.S. interests and SSTR missions has been the Army's provincial
values." Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary reconstruction teams (PRTs), descendants of the
Roughead responded in 2007 with A Coopera- Vietnam-era Civil Operations and Revolution-
tive Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, directing ary Development Support program. PRTs were
the Navy to deter war and encourage international founded in Afghanistan soon after the 2001 ini-
stability by nonconventional means including eco- tiation of Operation Enduring Freedom and then
nomic development, governance, and establishing co-located in Iraq as of 2005.
the rule of law in developing and war-torn countnes.
Although the Navy does not have offcial stability- Provincial Reconstruction Teams
operations doctrine, the CNO has recognized that A PRT is a hybrid civilian-militaiy, inter-agency
we must step beyond our blue-water role to embrace organization consisting of 60-90 personnel, struc-
21st-century counterinsurgency and state-building tured to execute the six operational capabilities
challenges. This is a'made-to-order Seabee mission. identified by U.S. Joint Forces Command as es-
The Department of Defense understands that sential to effective SSTR operations: "creating a
stability operations are too complex and costly to safe, 'secure environm6nt; delivering humanitar-
be left exclusively to the armed forces: "Integrated' ian assistance/disaster relief; reconstituting critical
civilian and military efforts are key to successful infrastructure and essential services; supporting
stability operations, (and the military) shall be pre- economic development; establishing representa-
pared to work closely with. . . U.S. Departments tive, effective governrrent and the rule of law;
and Agencies.'" Some may argue that stability, conduct(ing) strategic communication."4 i
security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) is By 2007,28 PRTs in Iraq were staffed by 700
not the: military's role. Buuhe military has always people. In areas where force protection,is a con-
performed this mission. It is at present carrying cern, they are embedded with U.S. Army Brigade
out this mission, and other agencies are poorly Combat Teams or. Marine Regiments.
resourced to take the lead on it. A typical PRT includes the:following personnel:
For this reason, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have . Team leader
identified four broad categories of military activ- . Deputy team leader
ity-combat, security, engagement, and relief and · Multinational force liaison officer
reconstruction-and stated that commanders wil ~ Rule of law coordinator
conduct at least two of these fOLany military opera- · Provincial action offcer
tion.2 But Afghanistan and Iraq have reminded us . Public diplomacy officer.
that the impact of combat, secunty, and engagement . Agricultural advisor
may be ephemeral if unreinforced by humanitarian . Engineer
relief and reconstruction. If one rapidly deployable . Development officer
unit could tackle these four functions simultane- · Governance team
ously, it would become the gold standard for both · Civil affairs team
the multiplicationänd the economy of force. · Bilingual bicultural advisor
The strategic purpose of stability operations is The teams have proven adaptable to the joint
to "leverage the coercive and constructive capa- operating environment, able to "address each situ-
bilities of the military force to establish a safe ation on its own terms, in ,its unique political and
and secure environment; facilitate reconciliation strategic context, rather than attempting to fit the
among local or regional adversaries; .e'stablish situation to a preferred template."5 They are mis-
political, legal, social, and economic institutions; sion oriented, or scalable, to fit the host nation's
and facilitate the transition of responsibility to a . requirements.6 For example, if it is determined that
legitimate civil authority." In short, "successful a host nation is strong on the rule of law, then that
coordinator is not assigned to the team.
Provincial reconstruction teams subcontract building projects The Seabee Stabilty Team
and do not handle miliary operations, whereas Seabees"¡
molto is "We Build, We Fight" Here in Helmand Province,
If the PRTs are proving effective, why propose
NMCB-5 prepares to pump concrete for a building foundation at a Seabee-led variant? The Seabee stability team
.¡¡ Camp Leatherneck, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. would combine an NMCB with elements of a


..': ~:". :,:3~;t~::~'.~~:~~~;t;;:- !"\ ~

PRT, offering at least five distinct advantages over the' In fact, the presence of a stability mission in the post-
current doctrine and team composition: conflct early years significantly lowers the risk: of war
· It would maximize Navy capabilities to pursue national reigniting and promotes lasting peace.8 A Seabee battalion
objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq. fitted with additional stability elements offers a. highly
· The self-sufficient, highly mobile force would be de~ mobile team to fulfill the mission goals of the Secretary
signed for an SSTR environment, unlike a PRT, to conduct of Defense and CNO.
military missions in unsecure environments. \.

. Its organic construction capabilities would reduce con- Inherent Construction Capabilties
tracting delays. These.trades are inherent to the Seabees, Reconstruction is the key component in any stabiliza-
while supplying capacity-building vocational training to tion mission. The PRT has no inherent construction trades
the indigenous population. or skil sets. Its engineer is a coordinator of construction
· The team would be scalable and deployable within 48 projects supervising a contractor. The procurement and
hours to any global emergent contingency mission. subsequent management of the contract based on U.S.
· It would provide a U.S. approach to a PRT system that government regulations is a nightmare of red tape and pro-
in Afghanistan is a collage of national strategies, objec- cedural delays, totally incomprehensible to internationals.
tives, and resources. Worse, as experienced in Iraq, local contractors and
their workers who are seen cooperating with U.S. govern-
Security Contribution ment representatives have been intimidated,' murdered,
A Seabee stability team centered on an NMCB wil forced to abandon the construction project site or split
facilitate and enhance the contribution of the Navy in dollars allocated for construction projects with insurgents.
general, and the Seabees in particular, to SSTR missions, The Seabee stability team can. secure and oversee the site
thus fulfilling the requirement of DOD Directive 3000.05. . to minimize the problems of coercion and corruption. A
The team can be used"in all six phases of an operation, Seabee battalion, 'Rith its integral construction crew, has
particularly in phase-zero shaping, phase-four stabilizing, no need to contract, while the quality of the work is guar-
and phase-five transfer of governance to civil authority. anteed.
Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Fréedom have The Office of the Special Inspector General for Af-
demonstrated the'need to conduct stabilization and secu- ghanistan Reconstruction has identified multiple reasons
rity operations simultaneously, unlike in post-World War (listed here) for construction contracting delays.9 The
II Germany and Japan, when the enemy was soundly de- Seabee can-do attitude can remedy these problems in the
feated and a secure environment was established before following ways..
attention shifted to post-conflct reconstruction. . "Afghan holidays": Seabees do not take holidays on de-
The capabilties and skills of the Seabees are well suited ployment.
to supporting such a combination of missions, a considerable . "Afghan National Army commanders demanding contrac-
advantage when compared to the Army's provincial recon- tor perform work outside the scope of the original contract":
struction teams that "do not conduct military operations."7 This is common in the construction industry. Extensive
For this reason, Army PRTs lack an iritegrated secunty ele- meetings' are held before the contract is awarded to coor-
ment, relying on attached units for secu-
rity that can delay mission launch.
In the Seabees, following the motto
"We Build, We Fight/' military mis-
sions are inherent to the organization
and key to ensuring self-sufficiency.
Seabees can provide a convoy secu-
rity element, a core mission that has
greatly evolved in Iraq and Afghani-
stan. As an integral part of SSTR,the
proposed Seabee stability team could
operate in a dual environment to sta-
bilize a region before conflct begins,
or increase governance capacity in a
post -conflct environment.

Seabees~incorporate local labor into appren-

ticeship programs on construction projects.
In al Asad, Iraq, this student enrolled in the
Iraqi Construction Apprentice Program, which
included training in carpentry, masonry, elec-
trical wiring, and plumbing.

70 . July 2010 www.usnLorg

post- cÍinate the wishes of the client, but circumstances
i war and ideas often change later. For example, the
ali on
contractor has been told what to build and the
ighly price has been agreed to, but after the contract
etary is let, the client wants to change the design. The
new request usually costs more, because the client
invariably wants more work done.
. "Contractor delays in filling out the Synchro-
liza- nized Pre-deployment and Operational Tracker,
'ades a DOD program for tracking contractors": This
;tion paperwork is not a requirement for Seabees.
and . "Contractor delays in getting Defense Base
19.S. Act Insurance": Seabees are insured by the U.S.
pro- govèrriment.
hals. · "Delays due to field engineer inexperience":
land Seabees are trained and experienced.
'ern- . "Mobilization efforts not being executed in a
~red, timely manner": Seabees "can do."
~plit . "Re-solicitations due to high,' bids over pro-
~nts. grammed amounts": Seabees do not bid.
site · "Security issues": Seabees'have their own se-
n. A curity.
thas . "Unreliable subcontractor": Seabees are both
uar- the primary and the subcontractor.

tAf- Putting the Populace to Work

!ons Ever \ since Vietnam, Seabees have incorpo- ~¡¡

The rated local labor into apprenticeship programs

¡the on construction projects. The civic action team,
which routinely deploys to the island of Palau
in the Pacific Ocean, apprentices locals on a
one-year basis, with new groups following in a
! continuous rotation. Thus the native population A stabiliy mission in post-conflct years helps to deter flare-ups, and a Seabee
has an opportunity to learn new construction and baltalion with additional stabiliy elements oilers a highly mobile stabiliy team.
,ive administrative skils through an on-site Seabee NMCB.133 constructed the Afghanistan National Army command's forward opera't-
)or- project manager. ing base in Delaram.

. Projects that involve local labor offer signifi-

cant benefits in a conflict-ndden society. The fact that they port materials that generate disposable income. This spurs
teach a useful livelihood can be especially important in other parts of the economy. Using local labor under the
deflecting potential recruits from joining gangs or insur- supervision of a Seabee project manager is a force multi-
gencies. It can also reintegrate former members of both of plier in a conflct region, and even the limited number of
those into productive society. People take ownership and Seabees can attend to many construction projects across
pride in a community project in which they played a part, an area of operation.
and they wil defend it against insurgent attacks.
Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute Mobilty, Scalabiliy and Sustainabilty
and coauthor of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission The proposed Seabee stability team organization, in-
to Promote Peace, One School at a Time (Penguin, 2007), corporating elements of a NMCB, wil be' deployable as
has since 1993 built more than 80 schools and clinics in a highly mobile and self-sustaining force. This article pro-
Afghanistan and Pakstan. Since the recent surge of attacks poses using the Army's PRT organization and the guidance
by the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, only one of the U.S. Joint Forces Command as a foundation for the
of these public buildings has been destroyed. CAl works Seabee team, but in fact the Army's organization is large,
for comlTunity support in placing schools and ensures cumbersome, and slow to mobilize. The counter,insurgent
that the people donate the land and labor to build them. needs to be as mobile as the adversary, and PRTs are de-
In this type of community involvement, "villagers protect signed for wars of attrition, not as quick-reaction forces.
the school with their lives."10 Speed and adaptability are critical for both counterin-
Finally, these projects jumpstart the community's micro- surgency and disaster-relief operations, so, as much as
economy, allowing it to export construction skills and im- the U.S. government would like to have PRTs in every

www.usnLorg PROCEEDINGS . 71

.;....:x:.~~:ú.'. .S~S~SS'~:¡S:~ ~ , 2/ß


region to thwart insurgencies, the reality is that resources strategies, objectives, and resources. International coopera-
are constrained. Even though they do not conduct military tion in Afghanistan has been beneficial, but PRTs do not all
operations, some PRTs have a small convoy security ele- read from the same sheet of music. Their approaches often
ment to transport civilians in the organization. An NMCB diverge, and their foci are different, which can make coor-
typically has two convoy security teams. Because SSTR dination to achieve overall policy objectives problematic.
missions are often conducted in hostile environments, a A conventional PRT requires multiple interagency as-
unit with organic military capabilities would provide more sets to sustain and secure it in-country. A Seabee stability
options on the ground using a single unit. And a mobile team is a self-suffcient, highly mobile organization. A
element with military capabilities that can quickly create PRT attached to a Seabee battalion hands the combat-
a self-supporting base of operations is an added bonus. ant commander more assets available to execute multiple
The commander of the First Naval Construction Divi- objectives.
sion understands the Joint Chiefs of Staff's vision and has In addition to the inherent constrll;tion and security

directed that all NMCBs wil train and organize as scalable elements of'an NMCB, the attached PRT element pro-
units. ii Scalability is a core Seabee characteristic that bat- vides expertise in justice and the rule of law, social and
economic well-being, and
good governance elements
that are lacking in conflict
or politically fragile, devel-
oping countries where the
United States seeks to deter
war and shape events to pre-
vent insurgency. If the U.S.
government is to "leverage
the coercive and construc-
tive capabilities" in stability
operations, a Seabee stability

13 ..
team offers flexibility, stam-
ina, and security.

1. Department' of Defense Directive,

3000.05, 4.4.
2. Department of Defense, Capstone Con-
cept for Joint Operations, Version 3.0 (15
January 2009), p. 13.
3. Headquarters Department of the Army,
ed., FM 3-07: Stabílty Operations (Wash-
ington, D.C.: Department of the Army, Oc-
The Maritime Strategy calls for humanitarian missions for which the Seabees are well equipped-helping to tober 2008),2-2 andD-1.
deter potential recruits from joining insurgencies. These children drank from this main water source in the 'f 4. U.S Joint Forces Command, Miliary
village of Nagad, Djibouti, before the Seabees arrived and separated the potable from the nonp!'table. Support to Stabílzation, Security, Transi-
tion, and Reconstruction Operations Joint
Operating Concept, Version 2.0 (December
talion commanders have enforced for years, both during 2006), viii.
5. Headquarters Department of the Army, FM 3-07: Stabílty Operations, p. F-3.
peacetime deployments and in times of war. If parts of the 6. Department of Defense, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations Version 3.0, p. 13.
Army's PRT model are integrated into an NMCB, the Sea- 7. Headquarters Department of the Army, FM 3-07: Stabílty Operations, F-1.
bee stability team' can be task-organized and able to deploy 8. Paul COllier, Policy for Post-Conflict Societies: Reducing the Risks of Renewed
Conflct (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 17 March 2000), p. 8.
in 48 hours to begin security and construction operations.
9. Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Report to
The ability to rapidly launch construction and security Congress, 43. All quotes in the list following are from this document.
operations will give a decided advantage in a counterin- 10. Karin Rannow, "Educate Girls, Change the World," Central Asia Institute, Journey
of Hope (2008), p. 21.
surgency environment where popular support is critical to 11. First Naval Construction Division, U.S. Navy Seabees Strategic Plan (Washington,
success. No other force can match it. These advantages D.C.: 1 sl Naval Construction Division, 2008), p. 1.
provide combatant commanders a critical tool to meet the 12. Department of Defense, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations Version 3.0, p. 2.
13. Headquarters Department of the Army, FM 3-07: Stability Operations, 2-2.
challenges of the "future operating environment. . . char-
acterized by uncertainty, complexity, rapid change, and
persistent conflct."12
~ Lieutenant Commander Park is a Civil Engineer Corps ollcer serving
an individual augmentee tour at CJTF-HOA, Djibouti, Africa, as the
Uniformity humanitarian-assistance program manager. This article is based on
his 2009 master's thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School, which won
Finally, the Seabee stability team offers the prospect of a the Hans Jones Award for Excellence In Thesis Research In Special
uniform approach to SSTR. At present, PRTs in Afghanistan Operations and Irregular Warfare or Security, Stabilzation, Transilon
make up a collage of national approaches, each with its own and Reconstruction.

72 . July 2010