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Research Report

Deploying Combined Teams:: Lessons Learned from Operational Partnerships in UN Peacekeeping

Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2015
Pages: 40

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. i-ii)
  3. (pp. iii-iv)
  4. (pp. 1-2)
  5. (pp. 3-5)

    In its concept note for a summit on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping held in September 2014, the United States government noted that “peace - keeping is under strain, with peacekeeping numbers at all-time highs, peacekeepers operating in more complex and dangerous environments than ever before, and an architecture and infrastructure in need of continued modernization.”¹

    Like several other initiatives before it, the summit’s goal was “to strengthen UN peace operations and take stock of the deep challenges we confront today.”² One of the mechanisms that might aid in this goal is expanding the base of countries that can contribute to...

  6. (pp. 5-12)

    Operational partnerships in UN peacekeeping operations are not a new phenomenon, although they are poorly tracked and seldom researched. The UN has not kept a comprehensive record of such deployments in its missions, nor has it systematically studied the phenomenon. Scholarly literature on the subject is sparse.⁶

    Two main variants of partnerships are relevant for our study:

    Operational Partnerships: military units in a peacekeeping operation composed of troops or command structures from two or more countries⁷

    Standby Arrangements: multinational units, typically from within one region, that engage in pre-deployment training, exercises, and other forms of cooperation in anticipation of deploying...

  7. (pp. 12-15)

    How common are operational partnerships in contemporary UN peacekeeping operations and what patterns are evident? To answer these questions, we compiled a database of cases from 2004 to 2014 using several research methods (see Appendix). The database includes forty-one cases of operational partnerships involving more than forty UN member states. Our database focuses solely on military units and hence does not include individuals (such as staff officers) or police contributions.41 These partnerships usually supplied infantry units but sometimes involved a range of more specialized forces, including engineers, logisticians, medical personnel, and reconnaissance, transportation, and aviation units. As depicted in figure...

  8. (pp. 15-18)

    This section analyzes the main motivating factors behind the operational partnerships in UNIFIL in Lebanon and UNFICYP in Cyprus—the two UN missions with the most examples of partnership and the full range of variants identified previously (see table 1). It also examines the implications of these partnerships for the mission and the UN more broadly.

    As of September 2014, UNIFIL was composed of 10,109 peacekeepers from thirty-eight contributing countries, with the largest TCCs being France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, and Italy, each of which contributed more than 800 uniformed personnel. The mission is divided into two sectors: west and east....

  9. (pp. 18-22)

    Why do states participate in operational partnerships in UN peacekeeping operations? The short answer is that it facilitates deployment. Some states might be unable to participate on their own: the practical burdens of meeting personnel numbers, equipment requirements, standards of performance, lift, and the like are too great. Thus, if they are to participate, then they are driven to collaborate with TCCs willing to assist them. More practically, capable contributors may still want to share the (political and operational) burdens and thus are driven to take on the role of senior partners. Equal partners share or trade off command and...

  10. (pp. 23-27)

    What factors help to ensure successful partnerships? The answer depends on who is asking the question. If a senior partner’s aim, for instance, is increasing the legitimacy of a mission and obtaining political cover for its own participation, then simply having the partner show up and plant its flag, no matter what else it accomplishes on the ground, is considered success by the senior partner. If a junior partner’s major aim is improving its own military with the help of a senior partner or the UN, then again just showing up may be enough for the junior partner. Indeed, one...

  11. (pp. 27-29)

    Considerable overlap exists in the benefits and challenges of partnering for TCCs and the UN. For the partners, the benefits are straightforward and need little elaboration: they get to advance one or more of the many political and military aims identified earlier in this report. It matters little that they have different aims; it is the synergy that counts. In short, if done well, operational partnerships are a win-win situation: junior partners get to deploy; equal partners get to do so in a manner suitable to them; and senior partners, who presumably would have deployed anyway, earn points they would...

  12. (pp. 29-29)

    On the basis of our analysis, this study identifies six major lessons about operational partnerships:

    1. Prospective partners must attend to both societal and military compatibilities and, probably even more importantly, to incompatibilities. In particular, military incompatibilities may not be eliminated, but their impact can be reduced. Partnering can be restricted to those states that share military doctrines and traditions. Interoperable equipment can be purchased. Combined pre-deployment training can be conducted and made intensive enough to knock the hard edges off incompatible practices. Even language incompatibilities can be reduced over time.

    2. The more militarily compatible the TCCs are or become, the...

  13. (pp. 30-33)
  14. (pp. 34-34)