The United States has consistently failed to deal with the breakdown in public order that invariably confronts peace and stability operations in internal conflicts. Analysis of experience in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans and Iraq demonstrates that indigenous police forces are typically incapable of providing law and order in the immediate aftermath of conflict, and so international forces must fill the gap – a task the US military has been unwilling and unprepared to assume. After 20 years of lessons learned (and not learned), this article argues that the United States must develop a civilian ‘stability force’ of constabulary and police personnel deployable at the outset of on operation to restore public order and lay the foundations for the rule of law.
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