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PRISM is a quarterly security studies journal that has been published by the National Defense University Press for the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) since 2009. The journal focuses on complex and integrated security operations, including reconstruction, stabilization, counterinsurgency, security cooperation, transitions, and irregular warfare operations. PRISM aims to inform members of the U.S. Federal Agencies, Allies, and other partners on these complex issues by addressing relevant policy and strategy, identifying lessons learned, and furthering developments in training and education to transform America’s security and development apparatus to meet tomorrow’s challenges better.
In order to engage the broader national security community, PRISM draws from a diverse pool of experts, scholars, policymakers, and practitioners. While offering feature articles, interviews, book reviews, and field observations on assorted subjects, PRISM has a special focus on the nexus of civil-military integration. Because a core goal of the CCO is to facilitate better interagency and international cooperation, PRISM reflects the need for a whole of government approach that balances defense, diplomacy, and development. In all, PRISM’s role is to promote innovation and the development of new knowledge as well as to share existing knowledge with the national security community and its partners as it relates to complex operations.
The inaugural issue of the journal, PRISM 1.1 (December 2009), features “Stabilization and Reconstruction: A Long Beginning” in which former senior Indiana senator and the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard G. Lugar, provides a brief history of his early efforts to increase civilian operational and surge capacity to improve the U.S. government’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to crises in foreign conflict zones. Lugar concludes that despite improvements from legislation like the Stabilization and Reconstruction Civilian Management Act of 2004, an inadequate foreign affairs budget (the 150 Account) remains a major obstacle to strengthening civilian capacity.
PRISM 1.4 (September 2010) includes “Diplomacy Before and After Conflict” by Marc Grossman who has served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In this article, Grossman reflects on his experience as a career diplomat and the changing nature of diplomacy in the 21st century. He argues that diplomacy can prevent the use of force and, when the latter is unavoidable, aid military commanders in prosecuting wars quickly and effectively. Grossman notes the tension between diplomatic objectives and military realities. He highlights the need for the State Department to adapt to its new mission set, notes the formation of the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, and advocates the creation of expeditionary diplomats for war zone–related service, including on Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
In PRISM 2.1 (December 2010) Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell IV, USA, the former Commanding General of the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan and Captain Nathan K. Finney, USA, former Strategist serving with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan co-author “Building Police Capacity in Afghanistan: The Challenges of a Multilateral Approach.” Caldwell and Finney state that an effective police force is critical to achieving U.S. strategic objectives in Afghanistan. They argue that the absence of unity of effort between parties attempting to establish a legitimate and sustainable Afghan National Police is the greatest challenge to the process of establishing such a police force.
Offering an academic perspective, Mary Kaldor, a Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Director of its Centre for the Study of Global Governance, authored “Human Security in Complex Operations” in PRISM 2.2 (March 2011). Kaldor explains that human security is a concept that can facilitate both the way one understands complex operations and how one designs the toolkit for addressing these risks and dangers. It offers a narrative that overlaps yet is distinct from counterinsurgency and the War on Terror and implies a set of principles for using combined military and civil capabilities.
More recently, PRISM 3.3 (June 2012) included “Military Support for Democracy” by Admiral Dennis C. Blair, USN (Ret.), the former United States Director of National Intelligence and Commander of U.S. Pacific Command. Blair discusses how the positive roles many armed forces have played in the Arab Spring have important implications for understanding the causes of transitions from military-supported dictatorships to more democratic governments. Developed democracies may be able to use their military-military relations to encourage democratic development.