General (Retd) Rainer Schuwirth, former Chief of Staff SHAPE: Paper provided for the WSN-RCDS FATA Workshop

Posted in Other | 16-Feb-09


General (Ret.) Rainer Schuwirth ended his duties as a soldier on 30 September 2007. He was born in 1945 and joined the German Federal Armed Forces in 1964. He commanded a missile artillery battery and battalion, Armoured Brigade 8 in Lüneburg and IV (GE) Corps in Potsdam. He served in various national and NATO staff assignments as intelligence and operations officer, as Military Assistant to the German Minister of Defence, as Branch Chief and later as Head of the Military-Politico Division in the Federal Armed Forces Staff, MoD Bonn, and as Defence Advisor in the German Permanent Representation to NATO. From 2001 to 2004 he was the first Director General of the EU Military Staff. His last assignment was Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).


At the recent International Security Conference in Munich, the Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed considerable concerns about the roots and consequences of extremism and terrorism, but he also addressed issues like a historic resolution providing a comprehen-sive framework for a multi pronged strategy with the support, cooperation and ownership of the local populations, about a new era of understanding and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the restoration of trust and confidence, a partnership on higher levels in the political, economic, security and social fields, the determination for a better, peaceful and prosperous tomorrow, or the successful process of the Jirgagai or the tripartite commission.

At the same occasion, President Karzai talked about the tense situation in his country, but also about a silver-lining in the unprecedented concurrence of views and interests that is emerging across the region and beyond, not only concerning the nature of the threat but also the need for tackling it urgently.

And others highlighted again the necessity of an approach to the so called wider region, as well as the requirement for coordinated, coherent and comprehensive approaches and assis-tance.

No doubt, these and other similar statements are important and taking them not just as lip service, one could assume that there is at least the principal will to act and to do better in or-der to improve a situation which over time has developed more and more into a daunting ar-ray of problems and challenges with a mix of poverty, corruption, terrorism, criminality and above all less and less confidence and hope with the affected people on the ground.

Already under much better conditions, statements of willingness to engage and improve would encounter numerous challenges once it comes to implementation. Indeed, there are quite a number of lessons from other theatres which show that it is comparatively easy to talk about coherent and comprehensive strategies or approaches, but far more difficult to create the necessary coherent and comprehensive effects on the ground. Among other factors, some reasons are the number, origin and characteristics of the various actors, their compe-tence or non-competence, their understanding of the situation and the required, prioritized and coordinated measures, the available resources and their use, the kind of involvement of local authorities and people and subsequently their kind of support or obstruction to any par-ticular measure, the readiness to shoulder and execute responsibility and provide account-ability, or the readiness to be coordinated and work towards defined targets along interde-pendent lines of development. And there are sufficient examples which show that even well executed development projects and financial aid by themselves do not lead to real improve-ments of the overall situation if they are not accompanied by proper measures leading to better governance and security.

Above remarks should by far not be misunderstood as an invitation for no action towards FATA. Quite the contrary – the requirement is undisputable and the World Security Network project as well as the FATA Sustainable Development Plan offer great potential. However, in order to exploit them in whatever combination I would suggest gaining sufficient clarity on at least a couple of points as a precondition for success. From my point of view, these could be:

1. Clarity on a common situational understanding and the underlying factors. There has been quite a lot of “finger pointing at each other” with very different positions and arguments, there have been mistakes or failures but no real progress, and a lot of reputation of and confidence in national and international actors has been lost. While developments are in-extricably linked in the wider region, any support for FATA should be tailored to their specifics without neglecting influences from the outside. The locals would have to get an un-derstanding that there will be “real and promising added value”, also as a motivation to refrain from supporting terrorists.

2. Clarity on actors, their full commitment, and their responsibilities. On the basis of a com-mon situational understanding, a political agreement would have to be achieved among all involved actors leading to a strong partnership and a clear focus on areas where those actors can make a real difference rather than dispersing any efforts across the board. With the Pakistan government in conjunction with local authorities for obvious reasons in the lead, a supporting group of actors could emerge from the “Friends of Pakistan”, founded in Sep-tember 2008 (Australia, Canada, China, EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey, UAE, UN, UK, US), complemented by other willing nations and organizations, or initially be based on those states and institution who have nominated special envoys (e.g. EU, Germany, UK, US). Any such group would require clear terms of reference and a supporting working structure.

3. Clarity on the scope of assistance, on goals and desired effects, on priorities, resources and sustainability – tailored to the specific local requirements. This would require a systematic approach to planning and execution along agreed “lines of development” with interrelated projects, leading to enhanced capabilities for the locals in the areas of governance (e.g. law and order, administration), development (e.g. education, livelihood, agriculture, infrastructure, water, electricity) and security (e.g. police, protection). It should be clear to all actors that their resource bill in terms of planners, specialists, mentors, trainers, finance etc would be considerable.

4. Clarity on necessary security (counterinsurgency) operations to identify and separate the radicals and assist the peaceful ones. There would be the requirement for superb intelligence collection capabilities as well as police and military (special) forces in sufficient numbers and quality to conduct overt and covert surveillance, screening and search operations, to protect against attacks, to find, fix, neutralize or destroy selected targets and to execute psychologi-cal operations, The Tripartite Commission and the Joint Intelligence and Monitoring Board would have to play an even further strengthened role.

5. Clarity on a strong and permanent wide-spread supporting information campaign backed by the necessary assets to win the information battle. Any intent and plan should be strongly integrated into public and diplomatic messages to render the necessary interest and under-standing in supporting nations and organizations. However, after all what has happened, first and foremost the local people will have to be convinced about the seriousness and en-visaged effects of any programmes/measures, and they will have to find them so attractive that they will be inclined to follow, to support and to engage.

London, February 19, 2009