Come Together

The military must foster partnerships as it focuses on stability operations.

A potentially monumental change, from a management standpoint, took place at the Defense Department in November. It came in the form of a directive-a memo, really-bureaucratically titled Directive Number 3000.05.

The 11-page directive, issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, puts stability operations on a par with combat, which has been the primary mission of the American military since the dawn of the Republic. Usually someone else does the stabilizing after the military does the fighting. But the directive requires the military to treat stabilization of troubled nations as a primary mission as well.

In carrying out combat operations, the American military acts alone or with other militaries. Stability missions are different, as is obvious to military leaders attempting them in Afghanistan and Iraq. The directive says military leaders will have to learn how to work hand in hand with other federal leaders, foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and private sector leaders in a more integrated way than ever before.

Put another way, the military can function as its own network in combat, but to carry out stability missions, it is only one node in a network of organizations. The military, the State Department, other agencies and outside organizations must work together to turn troubled nations into democratic participants in the global economy.

This kind of change for an institution as large as the military is not easy. Long-standing protocols, habits, procedures, and physical and technological barriers have to be reconsidered. Leaders will have to work out new traditions and practices with new partners.

Managerially, a major job will be to build relationships with all the people and groups they will have to work with so closely for years to come. Another huge task will be reconfiguring training for military personnel that now is focused on combat. It likely will take years to develop the connections, systems and leadership programs to make all this happen.

Directive 3000.05 is just a piece of paper. Much of the partnering and stability-focused work it purports to create already has been going on for years. Military leaders have adapted as their missions on the ground have shifted, whether or not the Pentagon issued a directive. Stability missions are nothing new to military personnel across the globe.

But now that they're official, it's clear that the military is not just a fighting machine. It's a fixing machine now, too. For managers who like challenges, putting both machines together will be one of the biggest ones of their working lives. It also could bring some of the biggest rewards: more people living in peace around the world.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.