Author: Maj Gen Eric T Olson
Even under the best circumstances, reconstruction in counterinsurgency is a difficult endeavor. The most critical tasks are numerous and complex. Many participating agencies must undertake missions that fall well out of their existing core competencies or operate in environments that are completely unfamiliar to them. The involvement of multiple agencies who are not accustomed to working together makes coordination difficult. And all this must take place in an environment where an armed, violent foe, who understands the disadvantage to him of a successful reconstruction effort, is determined to go to almost any length to resist progress or destroy what has been accomplished. If the counterinsurgent understands what needs to be accomplished and to what end, and he has a plan and can mount a coordinated effort to execute that plan, reconstruction can indeed then become one of the array of key weapons that do not shoot that are available to the counterinsurgent. Even as a weapon that does not shoot, reconstruction can end up being dangerous to the hunter as well as the hunted. A coordinated, skillfully executed reconstruction program is essential to a manageable security environment and strong national institutions that have the confidence and the support of the people. But reconstruction that is mismanaged, bungled, and obviously ineffectual not only represents a lost opportunity to advance the cause; it also may well put a weapon in the hands of the insurgent.