WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2007 – A multi-pronged approach to conflict resolution that includes military force coupled with a powerful social push is vital to winning over hearts and minds and countering insurgents’ lure, a U.S. Central Command official said today.During a news conference at the Foreign Press Club here, Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert H. Holmes, deputy director of operations for U.S. Central Command, told reporters that his command is exploring a counterinsurgency concept called “effects synchronization.”
“This is a new approach to looking at all of the national and international instruments of power that actually go beyond the military,” he said. “(They) look at the diplomatic activities, political activities, economic activities, social and cultural activities that really need to come together as we look at the particular conflict or activities we’re in.”
Holmes serves as chairman on U.S. Central Command’s effects synchronization committee. The group comprises headquarters staff members from areas that include operations, resourcing, intelligence, planning and public affairs. Other representatives hail from the departments of State, Justice and Treasury, plus the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence community.
“We sit and address the common goals and objectives for our region,” he said. “And in addition to just the kinetic, or those hardcore combat operations, … we say, ‘What do we need to do with non-kinetic operations? What might we need to do with humanitarian ops?’”
The general said military efforts that are married to those of interagency partners create a hybrid force that is more effective than if components were to operate independently. “It’s about what we as the military to do in synchronization and integrated with other elements of power,” Holmes said.
The military’s limitations and the need for additional problem-solving means are especially profound in asymmetric conflicts like Afghanistan and elsewhere, Holmes said.
“With regard to asymmetric warfare, what we’re in is, in a sense, a battle for hearts and minds, not for military objectives,” he said. “It’s about the hearts and minds of the people, not only of the Middle East, but of the world.”
Those engaged in asymmetric warfare around the globe eschew “values that are very important to peace-loving peoples of the world,” the general said.
“If these violent actors are able to pursue their vision, to pursue their end-states, then (victory) ultimately rests on being able to go after the hearts and minds of many of the world’s population,” he said.
By helping to build Afghanistan’s fledgling government, infrastructure and economy, U.S. efforts present a more promising future to Afghans than do Taliban or other extremist elements.
“What we do in Afghanistan gives a very strong signal; it communicates our intent,” Holmes said. “We don’t just come in and create a situation and then leave, but we stay. We stay there for the good of that nation, and we stay there for good of the international community.”