HONOLULU — Preparing security practitioners to deal with contemporary stability challenges in a comprehensive manner across the spectrum of instability and stability, is the focus of a new course at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.  The first Stability, Security, Transition and Reconstruction (SSTR) course kicked off at APCSS last week with 26 Fellows, representing military, constabulary, diplomatic, academic, and humanitarian professionals, spanning 17 Asia Pacific countries.

The three-week course is aimed at preparing security practitioners from across government and private sector to  not only successfully participate in post-conflict and post-complex emergency stabilization and reconstruction operations and activities, but also to plan, evaluate, and execute  proactively in order  to avert or mitigate brewing conflicts and complex emergencies.

Last November, the Secretary of Defense directed that within the US military stability operations (defined as “military and civilian activities conducted across the spectrum from peace to conflict to establish or maintain order in states and regions) should have the same priority as combat operations.  The course’s focus begins in a preemptive and preventative mode, and extends well beyond crisis response. For instance, , according to Major Mike Weisz, Deputy Course Coordinator, “reconstruction activities, although considered to be a part of stability operations, are nonetheless longer term, focused on the post-conflict/post-destructive phase, are generally civilian led, and are broader in scope and consider such diverse areas as security, governance, justice, and economic and infrastructure development.”  In addition to reconstruction activities, types of stability operations ”include preventive diplomacy, developmental aid to nation-states, peace operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and combating terrorism to name but a few.” 

The SSTR Course grew out of a simultaneous appreciation for the changing strategic environment, is consistent with recent presidential directives and fully supports Department of State and DoD initiatives.  Since the end of the Cold War, the world has witnessed an increase in intrastate conflict (civil war, ethnic conflict, etc.), and the concomitant humanitarian crisis and complex emergencies that often result from such conflicts.  At the same time we are painfully aware that natural disasters are proving more destructive than ever due to the compounding effect of insufficient emergency response structures, pre existing environmental damage, and population stress. Effective stability security and reconstruction activities are a way to either prevent or mitigate the effects of those conflicts, crises, and emergencies.  The SSTR Course in sum than, takes a comprehensive approach to security, stability operations and reconstruction activities.  Course content focuses on three broad topic areas: (1) pre-conflict/complex emergency condition-setting, (2) post-conflict/complex emergency transitions, and (3) post-conflict/complex emergency reconstruction.  The course also addresses basic definitions and types of stability operations, coalition building and inter-agency coordination, interventions and occupations, post-conflict/post-complex emergency reconstruction steps, transition planning, and strategic communications, information management and complex problem solving.

Course content is delivered via lectures and a heavy dose of “learning by doing.”  Active learning is achieved through activity-based seminars and three role-playing exercises.  The curriculum is designed, therefore, to impart vital knowledge as well as to develop leaders’ skills and frameworks in order to improve the effectiveness of SSTR practitioners.