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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Eric David Newsom
Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs
Remarks to the Army War College
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C., May 10, 2000
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Good afternoon and welcome to the State Department. I am the Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, and have the Department lead on most foreign policy issues having a military dimension.

It is a clichŽ to note that the world we live in now is undergoing a revolution in technology, communications and information flow; in business practices and organizational structures; in ways nations relate to one another and respond to their publics; in the ability of multi-national corporations and other non-governmental organizations to influence international events; and in how regional and international organizations respond to conflict and humanitarian disasters. But it is a clichŽ because it is true.

Our military has recognized that these factors contribute to a "Revolution in Military Affairs" that may well changing the very nature and conduct of war. The military is working to adapt to the new realities both within the individual service structures and in the "joint" world in which the capabilities of each of the services must be brought to bear to achieve U.S objectives.

In much the same way, the State Department is experiencing a "Revolution in Diplomatic Affairs" in which the role of the diplomat in the 21st century and the way we communicate, make decisions, negotiate, and conduct public relations have radically changed. Diplomats today work on words, but work out in the field with the DEA on anti-drug campaigns in Latin America, fly in military helicopters over Northern Iraq, assist refugees and planning non-combative evacuations in Africa, implement security cooperation efforts in Central Europe, and plan the next phase of civilian operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor.

The Revolution in Military Affairs and the Revolution in Diplomatic Affairs bring the work of the soldier and diplomat together everyday worldwide. To achieve national goals, our policy-makers often must use the military and the diplomatic instruments in concert rather that as distinct, tools.

The U.S. military has been tasked in the Presidentās National Security Strategy report to prepare itself to respond across the full spectrum on military operations, including: major theater warfare, peace enforcement, hostile and non-hostile non-combatant evacuations, humanitarian and disaster relief, and simply creating favorable and interoperable relations with foreign militaries who can support us in the military tasks we undertake. It is clear that every notch on this spectrum depends on diplomacy to succeed -- either to reduce or eliminate the need for use of force, maintain coalitions, or negotiate peace.

Thus, our ability to operate jointly will have a profound impact on Americaās leadership in the world and effectiveness in protecting our interests and those of our allies and friends.

We need to understand the nature of this mixed or joint instrument.

To integrate force and diplomacy as a new sort of policy tool, the Defense and State Departments will have to break out of old cultural and institutional barriers to an unprecedented extent and find new, creative ways of doing business altogether.

We in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, are pursuing this goal vigorously. Some are skeptical about this new approach and strongly urge us to go slowly.

Frankly, I donāt think the United States can afford to have us inch along in this process. Recent events such as Bosnia and Kosovo have shown that we do not always know for certain when, where, and in what mix we will need to deploy force and diplomacy.

Thus, we need new ways of coordinating: these should include getting DOD's views to help State with its bureau and embassy program plans. And they also should involve Stateās interaction in the formulation of goals and objectives in defense policy, and in such key planning exercises as the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the regional commanders Theater Engagement Plan (TEP).

This is not to say that each agency should take over the otherās work or dictate or meddle in each otherās business. Rather, the goal is to develop and implement plans and policies that are informed and consistent with one another in fulfillment of the Presidentās National Security Strategy. This is a big part of the job of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

As we seek to shape the international environment and respond to current events, we need to better coordinate the work of the other interagency players, not only Defense and State. We are making progress in this area. On of the highlights of my tenure as Assistant Secretary has been the work that we have done to advance political and military coordination on complex contingency operations. An important tool is Presidential Decision Directive (PDD-56), which provides mechanisms for interagency cooperation in these circumstances. As the bombing campaign in Kosovo wore on, 30 military and civilian officers from 18 agencies, bureaus, and offices collaborated over several intense weeks of work to produce a 46-page "mission analysis." This ultimately shaped the UN Mission in Kosovo and Kosovo Force (KFOR) operations and helped synchronize international efforts after the bombing stopped. Despite initial skepticism on the part of some, this process was shown to work better than even the optimists had predicted.

Now we are seeking clearer, more effective mechanisms to make the Presidential Decision Directive (PDD-56) process work better. A new contingency planning Interagency Working Group will greatly advance this effort.

This new way of cooperating is a challenge for both military and civilians. Every U.S. military officer has studied Karl von Clausewitz, and understands his message that military operations and objectives are always subordinate to strategic political and diplomatic goals. But not every officer likes it. And frankly -- not every diplomat appreciates the insights of professional military officers in planning strategies that may involve the use of force.

Joint planning will never be easy, even in the best of all possible worlds. During the planning for the period after the bombing campaign in Kosovo, strong differences surfaced between State and Defense. At times, parts of the Defense Department buttoned up and went silent whenever State officials showed up. It took some battering on the gates to get insights into military planning and thinking. Both departments fought hard about issues like policing, military support to civil administration, and so on. To the credit of both, we did not paper over our disagreements. There were vigorous debates.

But before anyone was deployed in support of the post-bombing effort, we agreed on a strategy. Key issues were argued and settled before, not after, mission start-up, providing those who implemented the plan with clarity of purpose and a division of labor. The whole process was of great value and set a precedent for the future, even if subsequent events in Kosovo did not always go according to plan. As the late president General Dwight Eisenhower once said, "A plan is worthless, but planning is everything."

As a means to overcome institutional barriers and stereotypes, I recommend various measures: We need to expand the existing program of exchanging officers between the Defense and State Departments both in Washington and in the field. We should look for more opportunities for Foreign Service Officers to serve on senior military staffs, and at the same time, we should offer opportunities for senior military officers to hold policy-level positions in the State Department. I would like to see military officers serving at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level in State, and State officers serving in the Defense Department in the same capacity.

In addition, we need to look for opportunities for joint training. We should increase the number of State Department officers who attend service schools. And I would like to see our own National Foreign Affairs Training Center open its doors wider to military colleagues as we study regional policies, negotiating, and other foreign service professional skills and political-military issues.

Finally, our responsibility to the men and women in the military and Foreign Service compel us to cooperate closely. When we conduct our business in Washington at the rarefied levels of planning and interagency discussion, it is easy to forget that our success or failure to act effectively together can have serious consequences for the actual people called upon to implement our decisions. It pains me every time I hear our military in the field say they do not understand what our policies are and how they are supposed to be advancing them. The best training and equipment will not overcome ambiguous objectives and poorly crafted plans. It is our mission to ensure they never have to.

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