Polad, military, international relations, conflict typology, political adviser
It is widely accepted that in almost all military decisions, the political factor has to be taken into account. To that extent is a political advisor or “polad” needed in the military institutions as well as on the field? The face of warfare has irrevocably changed, as Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense reminds us: “We can expect that asymmetric warfare will remain the mainstay of the contemporary battlefield for some time. These conflicts will be fundamentally political in nature, and require the application of all elements of national power. Success will be less a matter of imposing one's will and more a function of shaping behavior – of friends, adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between” .
Until the current emphasis on transformational diplomacy in the post-9/11 environment advocated by Secretary Rice, political advisors formed a subculture within the larger political-military function. Their work has long been considered arcane. Indeed, the military decision was above everything, and considered sacred. The tide may be turning, however, as the growing importance of civilian-military cooperation has boosted demand within the military for the skills Foreign Service personnel and other civilians bring to operations requiring the integration of all elements of national power. These include stability and reconstruction, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, counterinsurgency and crisis-intervention missions. The ultimate goal of post-conflict reconstruction is the transfer of political authority to indigenous authorities. Effective Civil-Military-Cooperation (CIMIC) in stability operations must take into account the political context of the mission and aim at creating acceptable, legitimate, representative, just and stable institutions that bring about and can sustain a peaceful political transition. Political Advisors have a major role to play here.
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