Police Mission in Peace Support Operation

PSO – Police Mission in Peace Support Operations








Peace and stability operations have historically been plagued by dire lapses in public security, leaving an inadequate foundation for all other aspects of these missions to build upon. At the inception of most such operations, there is likely to be an immediate need to combat rampant lawlessness, revenge killings, or major civil disturbances.

As already mentioned in the presentation of the Peace Support Operations development, several actors need to play their role in a stabilization phase to move from the post conflict phase to the beginning of the Nation Building one. The goal of the stabilization is to establish a safe and secure environment to create the conditions to develop legitimate and stable security institutions.

As long as these new emergencies grow, they involve all instruments of national and multinational action, including the international humanitarian and reconstruction community, to support :


  • conventional combat operations if necessary;
    • establishment of security;
  • facilitate reconciliation among local or regional adversaries;
  • manage with displaced persons and refugees;
    • establish or re-establish political, social, and economic architecture;
  • facilitate the transition to legitimate local governance.


These are the instruments upon which the stabilization phase begins, and the stability

operations are required for the institution rebuilding.

At this stage, some relevant aspects are to be considered, bearing in mind that from a

military standpoint:

  • conventional units can not be deployed alone to meet the challenge of public disorder and lawlessness;
  • initially, the military component is often the only source of order;
  • domestic police forces in most States do not have a surplus capacity that can be readily tapped for international contingencies.


The cropping out of those new emergencies seen in the previous paragraph are consequence of the mutation of the geo-strategic scenario in the recent historical period. The end of the “logic of the opposite blocks” (cold war environment), has seen the proliferation of local crisis and wars as well as more and more virulent trans-national acts of terrorism funded by incomes derived from illicit activities (drug/weapons and human trafficking): in other words, we are facing more and more serious situations of destabilization and threats to safety and security.

Serious terrorist attacks occurred not only against Western Nations, but also against other Nations with moderate and peaceful governments in several areas of the world.

This situation has required the support of a security apparatus, besides the military, in order to keep control of the different crisis and aggravated conflicts, and then to neutralize the evident ties between terrorist and criminal organizations, favoured by their common interest to maintain unstable conditions within their spheres of influence. This instability allows the terrorists to achieve their political goals and the criminals to develop and increase their illicit deals and their incomes, with the possibility to finance each other even if the respective goals do not often coincide.

This different scenario at the same time has implicitly yielded new aspects to the concept of peacekeeping, determining the efforts of the international community to explore more complex and articulated situations in the direction of reconstruction and stabilization of an area threatened by the possibility of an inter-state or intra-state conflict, or already devastated by that. Consequently the challenge is now to go beyond the conflict prevention or termination, and build up and maintain pacified, non violent relations among state bodies, populations and groups. We must be ready to stabilize areas where we can be called to intervene, with the awareness that now the “enemy”, or better “the threat to manage”, does not come from military forces, but from broader geo-political situations, identified in people and territories to be controlled. This new challenge is represented by terrorism, organized crime, corruption and all threats that can affect the stability of the area, whose actors are often non clearly identified, implying the need for law enforcement and criminal intelligence capabilities. These kinds of confrontations can be defined as “asymmetric warfare”, and the related scenarios characterized by opposite “non-conventional” or irregular units, militias, terrorist or guerrilla groups have been managed so far mainly from the conventional military forces operating in a Theatre, with the evident limits highlighted.

Therefore, to face, engage and possibly defeat such subtle counterpart in the asymmetric scenario, it is necessary to bring an added value to the conventional military-oriented operational approach, typically characterized by the maximum efforts in terms of use of force, intelligence and investigations: the need in this view is then to localize and identify the targets and the enemy forces (guerrilla groups or terrorists) and to neutralize them under criteria of proportionality and discrimination. These two concepts are compelled not only because of humanitarian reasons, but also to maintain as much as possible consensus of the population in the mission area. Indiscriminate repressions or reprisals could arise the hatred and desire of revenge by the local population, making it harder to reach the goals of the mission.

In fact, if the restoration of stability is the “end state” determining the success of a mission, it is fully evident that consensus within the population is one of the necessary conditions to operate in the direction of stability, by means of neutralizing step by step and painlessly the different threats, consequently isolating the extremist groups from the population.


Aim and concept of operations


The aim of security activities is to transform the crisis area into a safe and secure environment by performing a set of tasks to preserve the cessation of hostilities by establishing an effective border control, stopping smuggling of weapons, fighting organized crime and terrorist groups, as well as ensuring the safety of returning of refuges and establishing public order in the area. The role of police forces in this process is on one hand to support the military component in halting residual violence and ensuring order and security, on the other hand to support rebuilding efforts by training, monitoring, mentoring, reorganizing and assisting local police. In building a safe a secure environment efforts should mainly focus on the security forces and the timing of the transition to local authorities will depend on the local security conditions.



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