Public Safety During Combat: A Positive Lesson from Vietnam

  • June 15, 2003
  • COL Frank L Miller Jr

The idea that civil order is impossible in a "non-permissive environment" is historically wrong. Stability operations have been conducted throughout the intensity levels of past wars and lesser contingencies. They should not be "on order" missions for combat forces, but "as needed" missions for a dedicated noncombatant organization. The transition has to be planned for, resourced, and initiated prior to the end of combat operations. Following the Vietnam-era USAID Public Safety Division's model, this critical mission of providing public safety immediately behind the leading edge of advancing combat forces can be executed. We just have to plan for it.