Integration: Beyond the inefficiencies of 3-D, ‘Whole-of-Government’, CIMIC and CMCoord

Senator LGen. the Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire (Ret’d), Senior Fellow, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University, and Carrier-Sabourin Krystel, War Studies Ph.D. student, Royal Military College of Canada

Canada desperately needs to reorganize the way the CF does business in order to deal with modern threats to peace and security. A new model, under which the CF, DFAIT and CIDA, as well as civilian humanitarian organizations, work together seamlessly is de rigueur to disentangle the failures of the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC), Civil-Military Coordination, (CMCoord), 3-D (Development, Diplomacy and Defence) and ‘whole-of-government’ approaches.

To deal with the post-911 security environment, the Canadian government developed a three-dimensional strategy for state building that combined the traditionally distinct disciplines of diplomacy, defence and development. The 2005 International Policy Statement, by introducing the 3-D approach, was supposed to revolutionize the way in which the Canadian government confronts state failure and manages foreign operations. Yet the 3-D (and, later, the Conservatives’ ‘whole-of-government’ approach) became nothing more than a policy ‘catch phrase’ to manage increased financial and human resources associated the Afghanistan mission in DFAIT, CIDA, and DND.

Canada’s experience with 3-D and whole-of-government approach has not resulted in the type of interdisciplinary integration necessary for optimal effectiveness because of insufficient direct network connectivity between DFAIT, DND and CIDA, departmental power struggles, as well as a lack of senior leadership. Those involved in the Afghan mission have described their encounters with colleagues in other departments as ‘cooperative’, but they also noted that their meetings took place on an ad hoc basis.[1] The arrangements constrained integrated efforts at information-sharing.[2] As a consequence, “planning and operations could be better coordinated between the 3Ds through wider access to the range of tactical, operational and strategic information available.”[3]

What we desperately need, instead of a protocol to manage resources, is an operational strategy that is designed to tackle the tangible problems associated with the lack of complete cooperation, coordination and coherence that has plagued interdisciplinary operations to date. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was right on the money when he stated that “conflict prevention, post-conflict peace building, humanitarian assistance and development policies need to become more effectively integrated.”[4] Such integration would eliminate the lack of institutional coordination and policy coherence,[5] which is typically exacerbated in interdisciplinary operations.

To achieve integration, however, the Canadian government must embrace ‘system thinking’ that is based on the notion that the security environment must be conceptualised as an indivisible whole, whose essential nature is distorted or destroyed if reduced to a collection of parts. This allows military, diplomatic and development actors to improve institutional coordination and policy coherence by considering the requirements of a situation at the systemic level and by taking into account how their individual operations relate to those of others.

Tasks in interdisciplinary operations are connected, and the people in the mission need to learn how to work closely together. The current government model, where different agencies and ministries operate independently with separate budgets and staffs, is too fragmented to meet the threats of our modern world. We have been trying to adapt the old tools into a new era. We are in an era where we have to innovate, where we have to create. What is required in this era is integration. Integrating means creating something new – not trying to patch-up the shortcomings of CIMIC, whole-of-government and CMCoord. Religion, culture and economic disputes are often at the root of the fighting. Such conflicts, like Somalia and Rwanda, created in the 1990s a crisis in the Canadian military, which was facing budget cuts and questions about the use of force by Canadian troops overseas. Those crises proved that we were not ahead of the game, we were always reacting, and it requires reform.

In the military’s case, adapting to the current situation means senior officers should be trained not just in military operations, but also in cultural, religious and social sciences so they can understand the roots of conflicts. This training would be in addition to a high degree of military skill, which will always be the cornerstone of the CF. There is no quandary about the warrior ethic. However, it is not enough; a flag-rank officer that knows how to fight and how to use forces to fight is ineffective in this era. He or she must also be able to become a participant in the conflict prevention and resolution process.

There is not firm political commitment at this time to develop an integration strategy. Previous efforts, particularly those associated with the Afghan mission, have been ad hoc. The Government has undertaken a ‘lessons-learned’ exercise of the whole-of-government approach employed in Kandahar, and the results of this study should be released this fall. This will be a golden opportunity to initiate a discussion on the need for integration.


1.A. Skidd, “3D Approach to Canadian CIMIC,” presented at the Cornwallis X Conference, Kingston, 27 March 2005.
2. “Interview with Canadian ISAF participant, 17 March 2005,” as cited in S. Babcock, “Policy Challenges in the Development of Integrated Network Enabled Operations in Canada,presented to the 10thInternational Command and Control Technology Symposium, p.10.
Ibid., p.9.
K. Annan, We The Peoples: The Role of the UN in the 21st Century. U.N. Doc. A/54/2000 (27 March 2000), para. 48.
5. Institutional coordination problems occur when different actors pursue similar goals; policy coherence problems occur when different actors pursue different goals.