State Official Praises Cooperation with Defense Department
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 The level of cooperation between the State and Defense departments in recent years is unprecedented, Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political military affairs, said here today.
And such cooperation may be institutionalized, he told the Defense Writers Group.
It originated with then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reaching out to State Department officials, first under the Bush administration and then after President Barack Obama took office, Shapiro said. The close working relationship between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gates and now Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, he said, has served national security issues well.
The two departments have used those contacts to institutionalize structures that will ensure greater State/DOD cooperation in the future, Shapiro said.
The State Department is never going to have the budget of the Pentagon, Shapiro said, so “competition with the Pentagon is not something that is a good use of the State Department’s time, energy and effort.”
The structures in place, he said, will “ensure greater cooperation, ensure the State Department’s leadership in foreign policy is preserved and that State and DOD are working together on common issues of national security.”
State and DOD recently signed a memorandum that increases the number of DOD personnel serving at the State Department, Shapiro noted. There are also more State Department political affairs specialists at the combatant commands than at any time in history.
This is important, he said, because as the mission in Iraq ended and the U.S. military reduces its footprint in Afghanistan there will be fewer opportunities for State and DOD personnel to work together.
Another State-Defense department cooperative is the Global Security Contingency Fund, Shapiro said. State can contribute up to $50 million to the fund and DOD provides up to $200 million to be used for emergent and urgent challenges.
“We’re identifying right now what we’re going to spend the first money on, … but it will be the areas that were not planned for in the budget, but popped up,” he said. The two departments have a joint staff working together to identify these challenges.
Shapiro said he believes this is a far better model for the two departments to follow rather than fighting with each other over control of funds. The secretary of state retains leadership, “but given that DOD has more money and has a lot of planning capability, [this process] ensures these efforts are not stovepiped, but working together,” he said.