Engaging Future Failing States?
 U.S. Army Specialist Matthew McClaine participates in a game of soccer with students from a school in Djibouti City, Djibouti, after handing out school supplies collected by Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. (Photo: CPO Eric Clement )  



Richard A. Stakelum
Department of Defense Civilian

U.S. Army War College Class of 2011

The views expressed in the document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.



The 2010 National Security Strategy of the United States identified the global security threat posed by failing states. The USG response for these threats in the past has vacillated between diplomacy and military intervention, with less than optimum results. Recognition of the need for a Whole-of-Government response led to the formation of the State Department Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stability to "promote the security of the United States through improved coordination, planning, and implementation for reconstruction and stabilization assistance for foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife." The organizations and processes implemented since 2005 provide a more integrated United States Government approach, but are primarily focused on crisis response to existing conflicts.

This U.S. Army War College student author argues that there is a need for a strategy to identify future failing states and provide contingency planning and anticipatory assistance. He identifies challenges to this approach as: lack of common definitions; lack of real-time predictive analytics; and organizational cultural barriers to contingency planning. Nonetheless, he believes that utilizing a holistic approach may provide the opportunity to anticipate and mitigate challenges of future failing states before crisis occurs.

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