Project Purpose and History

The MARO Project’s main goals are to develop a widely shared understanding of the specific and unique aspects of mass atrocities and genocide and to create a common military approach within the context of a comprehensive approach to addressing these challenges. The Project also aims to build the lexicon, habits, and relationships that will facilitate future international responses to mass violence. It hopes to educate and catalyze the interagency community to develop parallel, non-military concepts and tools.

The MARO Project was founded in 2007 by Sarah Sewall in her capacity as Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. It quickly became an institutional partnership with the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the U.S. Army War College. The Project has relied heavily on the expertise of a Core Planning Group comprised of active duty and retired military officers.

The Project's initial intent was to develop a generic military concept of operations for mass atrocity intervention for the U.S. and foreign governments and military actors. However, Project participants ultimately found it more appropriate to develop an annotated planning framework tailored to the common requirements of a MARO and designed to identify specific operational dynamics and requirements. In this process, the Project developed a conceptual framework for MARO, explaining the underlying common elements and unique challenges of a MARO compared to other types of military operations. The combined functions of a conceptual framework and planning guide ultimately resulted in Mass Atrocity Response Operations: A Military Planning Handbook

The Handbook was launched on May 5, 2010 and explains why MAROs present unique operational challenges and provides framing and planning tools to prepare the military. While primarily intended for military planners, it is also useful for policymakers and other non-military readers interested in the prevention of and military response to mass atrocities. It compares and contrasts MAROs to other types of military operations, explores the specific dynamics of mass atrocity, and outlines the operational and political implications of an intervention to stop attacks upon civilians. The Handbook provides a guide to identify key aspects of a particular MARO environment, frame the problem holistically, develop response options, and design a comprehensive operational concept.

The Handbook has been utilized at tabletop exercises (TTXs) held by the MARO Project, which have involved the participation of members of six U.S. Combatant Commands and representatives from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Defense Department, and the White House. In January 2010, the Project ran a two-day mass atrocity response planning exercise at the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Participants included crisis action and deliberate planners, as well as planners and officials from other US agencies. A briefing for General Officers was also held. Additionally, in October 2010, the Project ran a second two-day mass atrocity response planning exercise at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA in October 2010. Participants included crisis action planners and deliberate planners from six combatant commands, as well as planners from logistics, experiment, and development divisions, OSD Policy offices, the National Security Council, U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, and the Bureau of International Organizations. Along with the Project’s TTXs, EUCOM planners integrated MARO scenarios into their official 2011 Exercise Austere Challenge, and AFRICOM is planning on including a MARO scenario in its 2011 Exercise Judicious Response. To receive more information about these TTXs or the TTX report, please contact us.

Along with TTXs, the Project also hosts workshops and conferences to further discussion and understanding of mass atrocity situations. The Project hosted a workshop in December 2010 in Gettysburg, PA, which further explored and analyzed the role of the military in preventing and halting genocides and mass atrocities worldwide. The event brought together over 100 participants from the government, military, NGOs, INGOs, academia, research institutions, and the private sector. Additionally, in November 2011, the Project co-hosted a groundbreaking conference with US European Command and US Africa Command on Mass Atrocity Prevention and Responseat the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. Staff and senior leadership from EUCOM and AFRICOM, as well as officials from the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the White House, came together for two days to discuss how to improve the US government and US military’s capacities to prevent and respond to mass atrocities, wherever in the world they may happen.

Through these efforts, MARO concepts have been integrated into components of the U.S. military and government. For the first time ever, the Army Operating Concept (United States Army Operating Concept: 2016-2028 TRADOC Pam 52 5-3-1)specifically addresses MARO and references the Handbook. Additionally, the U.S. Army Functional Concept for Protection (United States Army Functional Concept for Protection: 2016-2028 TRADOC Pam 525-3-5:) addresses MARO in its discussion of full-spectrum operations. Key security strategy and military guidance documents have also been informed by the Project’s work, such as the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2010- 2012 Guidance for the Employment of the Force (GEF), which for the first time ever includes language about mass atrocity and genocide. The OSD Policy office at the U.S. Department of Defense, who has been tasked with institutionalizing “MAPRO” (Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations), has also drawn considerably on MARO for its conceptualization and have looked to MARO Project staff for substantive input into the activities of their OSD Policy/Joint Staff MAPRO working group.