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Tying Defense With Diplomacy

A lot of Defense Department decisions tie in with State Department foreign policy. But while military advisors and diplomats share the same mission, they have very different perspectives and skill sets. So it would make sense to have a link between the two, right?

That’s where the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of State-Defense Integration comes in. It creates a link between DOD and State by supplying State with military advisors and DOD with foreign policy advisors, much like they’re exchange students. It better prepares America to respond to emerging threats and advance U.S. national security interests more effectively.

Nearly 100 military advisors from the DOD are assigned to 25 State bureaus and offices, where they offer senior officials their military expertise and advice on topics that include operations and exercises, post-conflict reconstruction, arms control, counterterrorism and military law.

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On the flip side, State sends the DOD about the same number of foreign policy advisors to combatant commands, task forces and special operations units all over the world. These diplomats supply our generals and admirals with foreign policy expertise on international relationships, how to engage with certain leaders, planning of exercises and operations, and more.

Many of the military advisors involved in the program say the role has given them new perspective.

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“The level of interaction across the U.S. government is amazing,” said Army Lt. Col. Rex Copeland, the senior foreign military advisor to the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. “You don’t get this level of influence at a normal … job in another DOD agency.”

“I’ve seen firsthand how a strong U.S. military force — even one that is not necessarily engaged actively in military operations — bolsters the State Department’s diplomatic leadership,” said Army Lt. Col. Jim Cahill, a military advisor in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

 

Source: Department of Defense

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One comment

  1. This policy sounds fine way up at the puzzle palace level, but much of the actual tasking gets put on the field soldiers. I was merely a senior NCO but along with my partner and the local ISAF commander I attended a lot of Shuras (meetings) with tribal elders, mullahs, and prominent men in many small villages in Afghanistan while serving as an Embedded Tactical Trainer. This was an additional duty that went along along with distributing food supplies, handing out winter coats and blankets, coordinating for repair of infrastructure, delivering school and medical supplies, and fighting the Taliban. There were occasions when we would have to sit across the floor from people who had been trying to kill us hours before and who we would see through our sights again later and discuss crop rotation and generator maintenance.
    Making the combat arms branches of the DoD an extension of the State Department Diplomatic corps is a huge mistake. Let the talkers talk and the fighters fight. Maximally effective fighters lead to more effective and serious negotiations. Yes, every grunt needs at least a basic understanding of the mission and purpose for being there. He needs to understand the policy but he does not need to implement it beyond his direct, kinetic effect. Making an Infantryman a semi-diplomat erodes his effectiveness both as a fighter and as civil negotiator. Let the Army fulfill it’s basic mission – kill bad guys and break their stuff- and make it so that the diplomats can do their job – build trade agreements and long term relationships with not just the current leadership but with the next generation as well.
    If you want an Infantryman to effectively deny resources and close with and kill the enemy by means of fire and maneuver, it is impossible to do so while handing out sacks of beans and rice and trying to convince the village to grow saffron instead of poppies.

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