IV-3). Each of these topics represents a crucial part of the larger evacuation plan, because as will be discussed in greater detail below, each single element of the plan influences and affects every other.
All of this information should already be included in the embassy's emergency action plan, but it would likely be supplemented in a noncombatant evacuation plan with information and intelligence available via the Department of Defense and the relevant intelligence agencies and divisions, such as satellite imagery, more in-depth threat assessments, and more recent information regarding security forces and domestic military leadership. This last topic is particularly important, because in many ways the regional commanders of U.S. forces act as a kind of diplomatic corps to the military command of the country in question, so they would likely be able to contribute relevant information to the noncombatant evacuation plan that might not be available through other means. Once again, coordination between the State Department and the Department of Defense remains the defining variable that can make or break the execution of a noncombatant evacuation plan.
In addition, the noncombatant evacuation plan must include more detailed information regarding key military and combat personnel that will be conducting the operation, including the intelligence officer, responsible for coordinating and disseminating relevant intelligence regarding everything from the weather to hostile elements, the operations officer, responsible for coordinating with the State Department and assessing "the requirement for deployment of combat forces," the logistics officer, responsible for ensuring the logistical capability of the operation, and the communications officer, responsible for setting up and maintaining communications equipment as well as coordinating the use of alternative communications such as domestic phone lines (DOD, 1997, p. V-3,4). Depending on the particular operation, additional key personnel might be needed, such as explosive ordnance disposal technicians, fire support officers, psychological operations officers, and others. Every one of these roles must be determined and clearly defined in advanced so as to reduce the time between an evacuation being ordered and the plan being put in motion.
From a Strategies-to-Task perspective, one may view each of these different officers as representative of a different operational task, which are the individual actions that make up the overall operational objective (in this case, the successful evacuation of noncombatants), just as the operational objective makes up one part of the larger campaign objective. One of the most important aspects of the Strategies-to-Task paradigm is the way it highlights the "cascading" nature of these tasks and objectives, because a failure at any level reverberates throughout the hierarchy; for example, the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 may be seen as a cautionary tale regarding the need for robust planning at every level of the objective hierarchy when it comes to evacuation planning, because not only did the crisis result in a failure at the operational task level culminating in the deaths of eight Americans, the effects of the crisis arguably reverberated all the way to the top of the hierarchy, costing Jimmy Carter his reelection (Ryan, 1985, p. 82-84). This is not meant to be a comparison of the death of eight Americans with a politician losing an election, but rather a means of demonstrating the interconnected nature of the hierarchy of objectives and the way in which changes or failures at one level may be felt throughout. Thus, robust information regarding each of the operational tasks represented by their respective officers listed above is crucial to the noncombatant evacuation plan, because the plan is only as strong as its weakest link, which in this case could be any of the wide variety of disparate tasks that go into executing the evacuation plan.
One should expect all of the information discussed above to be included in the preexisting noncombatant evacuation plan, so the first step in the task of refining the plan for a future contingency is to identify those topics most likely to have changed. Some issues will change rapidly, but if everything is already in place...
For example, if the intelligence officer is doing his or her job successfully, then climatic changes and their ramifications for the plan will be noted as they occur. Other changes likely require more in-depth research, such as shifting border disputes, the changing allegiances of local governments and security forces, or the availability of certain supplies and other logistical concerns.
Thankfully, the interconnected nature of the objectives and strategies discussed here means that these necessary intelligence updates will likely occur regularly so long as the communication between different organizations and individuals remains robust. While at times this analysis may have made it seem like the interconnected nature of objectives and strategy makes the entire hierarchy extremely fragile, this is not the case. While it is true that a failure at any single level can cascade through the entire hierarchy, this interconnection also means that success in one area contributes to success in another. Thus, the local embassy might be able to provide information unavailable to local commanders, local commanders might be able to offer advice and insights into embassies' emergency action plans, and both sides could benefit from a coherent enunciation of strategy throughout the entire chain of command as well as the kind of robust, redundant lines of communication that develop when individuals and organizations are aware of the true extent of their interdependence and interconnection.
Applying the Strategies-to-Task paradigm to this complex issue reveals not only the specific information required for maintaining an effective noncombatant evacuation plan in the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, but also the logistical, organizational, and communicative needs of any objective at any level, because one of the major points of the Strategies-to-Task paradigm is to reveal the interrelationships between seemingly disparate objectives and tasks. Thus, while this essay has focused on a single issue, its application of the Strategies-to-Task can also be viewed as an example of the kind of broad perspective needed when confronting any kind of goal, whether it be a military operation, a diplomatic endeavor, or a political objective.
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Department of Defense, USF South Korea. (2009). Noncombatant evacuation operation. Retrieved from website: http://www.usfk.mil/usfk/Uploads/120/NEO101.pdf
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Rhodes, C., Hagen, J., & Westergen, M. (2007). A strategies-to-tasks framework for planning and executing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (isr) operations. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/2007/RAND_TR434.pdf
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