Clear-Hold-Build: Using Counterinsurgency in Foster Care

Applying this military methodology to the foster care system could help protect children from sexual abuse.

Jamie Schwandt February 14, 2018
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After reading FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies, published by Headquarters Department of the Army, I started wondering if some of these concepts could apply to the foster care system. Yet, it wasn’t until I started diving into cyber warfare that it clicked. I started researching what is called the Hacker Methodology and I started to wonder if this is a similar methodology a sex offender would use. Yes, some of these people do have a strategy.

Moreover, the wheels in my head started turning even more after working with people in the foster care system who were fighting the judicial system after allowing an infant girl to be placed back with her sex offender parent. It made me wonder if the Clear-Hold-Build strategy outlined in FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 could work in foster care (see Figure 1). Thus, preventing a child from being placed back with a sex offender.

Figure 1. Sex Offender Strategy compared to the Hacker Methodology

Figure 1. Sex Offender Strategy compared to the Hacker Methodology

Hacker Methodology

Let’s first examine the hacker methodology (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Hacker Methodology

Figure 2. Hacker Methodology

Sex Offender Strategy

Yes, something this horrible does exist. Let’s take a look and see how it compares to the hacker methodology (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Sex Offender Strategy

Figure 3. Sex Offender Strategy

One Strike Rule for Sex Offenders

There are specific instances where a foster child should be reintegrated with his or her biological family, yet there are also specific instances when a child should not be reintegrated with their biological family. One such instance is when the mother or father is a convicted sex offender.

Your children should not be returned to you if you are a convicted sex offender and your child enters foster care. Let’s now examine how we could use the Clear-Hold-Build strategy in foster care.


In the U.S. military, the Clear-Hold-Build framework provides a good framework for a protracted struggle. Edward Azar defined a protracted struggle as a complex, enduring, and violent struggle.

Moreover, the Clear-Hold-Build strategy should not be used as a panacea. However, if you are a convicted sex offender, your children should not return to you. This is an example where we could use Clear-Hold-Build (officially it is Shape-Clear-Hold-Build-Transition). Let’s examine the strategy (including Shape and Transition). See Figure 4.

Figure 4. Shape-Clear-Hold-Build-Transition

Figure 4. Shape-Clear-Hold-Build-Transition

Finally, by adopting this strategy, we can Clear a foster child from living with a sex offender, Hold the child in a safe environment, then Build a life for the child that he or she did not have before.

Figure 5. Clear-Hold-Build in Foster Care

Figure 5. Clear-Hold-Build in Foster Care

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Jamie Schwandt

Dr. Jamie Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an author and former foster child. He is a TV show host, motivational speaker, lean six sigma master black belt, statistics professor, and a major in the U.S. Army. Dr. Schwandt is the author of the books Finding Your Hero (2015) and Succeeding as a Foster Child (2014). He is the host of the inspiring TV show Dreaming Big and is a fitness expert with a unique mindset for positive growth. You can find his published work here, his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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