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Eucom Official Calls Partnerships Vital to ‘Exit Strategy’ Goals

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 – With President Barack Obama’s announcement last night that 34,000 U.S. troops will come home from Afghanistan during the coming year, a senior U.S. European Command official underscored the importance of established partnerships that smooth the way for the U.S. military to accomplish its missions and to then pass responsibility to partners with the capabilities to build on successes.

“Military professionals go out and fight and win our nation’s wars,” Mike Ryan, Eucom’s director of interagency partnerships directorate, said in a video posted today on the command’s website. “We come in to help provide a safe and secure environment. Our goal really is to get home as quickly as possible and leave behind us a functioning society.”

But creating that functional society isn’t the military’s role, Ryan said. It’s up to the interagency and international communities and nongovernmental organizations with the specialized skills required to do so, he said. In many cases, these groups were represented on the ground before the military ever arrived, and will remain to continue the mission after the last service member redeploys.

“Our principal task, in addition to creating a safe and secure environment, is to create the context in which these other professionals can be successful,” Ryan said, “because it is in their success that is our exit strategy.”

Regardless of where in the world the military engages, Ryan emphasized the importance of establishing an exit strategy, and the relationships to support it, before military intervention. That, he recognized, requires communication and understanding across organizations that, despite different cultures, all play a role in the eventual outcome.

Ryan cited contributions of Eucom’s interagency partnering directorate in breaking down organizational barriers while lending specialized expertise throughout the command.

The staff includes about 30 military members, DOD civilians and representatives from the departments of State, Justice, Energy and Treasury, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Justice Department’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program.

In addition, those interagency representatives have tremendous reach, not just within the U.S. government, but also across the “whole of society” – international and nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, Ryan noted.

This expertise and reach make Eucom more effective in working with other organizations to support their common goals, he said. “It’s about integrating, not just on the ground, but in our planning, before we ever get engaged, so we can get the right people to the right place to do the right job at the right time,” he said.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the Eucom commander and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, shares Ryan’s enthusiasm about the value of partnerships. Today’s complex security environment exceeds the capacity of any single government organization, he noted.

“At European Command, we believe that ‘no one of us is as smart as all of us, thinking and working together,’” Stavridis said.


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