In creating an effective national security toolkit, we face a number of challenges. Some of the most important are concerning public diplomacy. Even in the Department of Defense (DOD), the system is poorly structure and the defense capabilities especially within counter-terror operations are not effective. It should be surprising then to know that the Defense Department is actually one of the best organized of all the divisions within the Department of State (DOS). The funding for the DOD is appropriated through Congress’s supplemental bills, though 25% of their funding does not even go through the budgetary process. By consequence, the Department of State has been loading the military with responsibilities that with which they used to have little or no involvement such as short term crisis recovery and economic provisions in a conflict zone.
One of the key coordination issues is inter-agency communication to task and assign projects. Details too often are lost along the way and work is delegated to completely different departments of the DOS that rarely collaborate. An example for progress forward would be to create an inter-agency task force specifically for Iraq so that each constituent of the task force was up to speed on all aspects of operation at the same time.
One of the panel’s strongest claims was that, “Congress is dysfunctional, we all know that.” The single most important reform that could be made would be to coordinate state operations and foreign operations under one bill.
Other reforms could include:
-Restructuring diplomacy and foreign assistance with development and foreign operations coordinated
-Creating a department for Aid
-Restoring discipline to the State Department through mid-career training
-Integrating tools of the Executive Branch with diplomacy and foreign assistance
-Re-writing the Foreign Assistance Act with greater synergy
-Creating a civilian counterpart to the Department of Defense
-Creating an Inter-Agency Director of Foreign Assistance
If the National Security Council is able to create these changes, we can make more progress toward fostering effective and accountable governance and promoting sustainable development in weakened states.
Location: Cannon House Office Building, Room 121
Sponsor: The Friends Committee On National Legislation
Date: May 4, 2007
Approximate Number of Attendees: 25
Intern Attending: Elysa Severinghaus