On Monday, May 23, 2011, Colonel Steve Hasty spoke at IWP about "The Challenges of Coalition Operations." IWP President John Lenczowski introduced Colonel Hasty, and described some of the highlights of his career. (Please click here to read his whole bio.)
Col. Hasty began his talk by discussing the difference between "coalitions," which are more informal, short term, and single-issue focused, and "alliances," which are formal and longer-term. He observed that these multi-national operations can be political or military, willing or unwilling, and are almost always characterized by having one strong partner.
He explained that the challenges faced by any military are multiplied in multi-national operations. He used examples from NATO to illustrate many of these challenges, including language barriers, command and control, communications, differing levels of competence in different militaries, the integration of intelligence, domestic politics, military cultures, and even differences in eating habits.
While NATO and UN coalitions face many challenges - each nation has its own military justice system, which is based on its own cultural understandings, and various nations don't always provide the right personnel for the right jobs - Colonel Hasty observed that personal relationships go a long way towards overcoming these challenges. In addition, at this point, many NATO members have worked together fairly consistently in recent years.
Col. Hasty then described some of his personal experiences in coalitions, as well as observations about the militaries of various countries with which he has worked.
Questions concerned the use of chaplains among militaries and whether that ever creates frictions in multi-national forces, Col. Hasty's impression of East Asian allies, and the organization of multi-national forces.