Military Chaplains as Peace Builders:
Embracing Indigenous Religions in Stability Operations
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As the United States conducts foreign policy and military operations, it must assess and consider the impact of religion in societies to achieve long-term stability in a region. So say authors Chaplain (Col) William Sean Lee, ARNG; Lt Col Christopher J. Burke, USAF; and Lt Col Zonna M. Crayne, ANG, in proposing that the role of military chaplains be expanded to include what they term "religious liaison," allowing for formal involvement of indigenous religious leaders in stability operations. Rather than avoiding religion in implementing foreign policy, they would allow chaplains to directly interface with indigenous religious leaders to develop dialogue, build relationships, promote goodwill, and create formal inter-religious councils. Lee, Burke, and Crayne recommend changes to doctrine, training, and assignments necessary to facilitate this expanded role. They note commanders often use a military lawyer and intelligence officer when making substantial decisions; chaplains can be just as important to a commander conducting stability operations. This policy implementation would assist the US military in transforming the asymmetric, soft power of indigenous religious influence into a significant source of power for mission accomplishment and enable a greater chance for achieving US foreign policy goals.
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