Pace Urges Interagency Cooperation in Government
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
FORT LESLEY J. McNAIR, D.C., Aug. 8, 2007 Marine Gen. Peter Pace today urged students at National War College here to work on improving interagency cooperation throughout the government.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at the convocation ceremony at the National War College, Fort McNair, D.C., Aug. 8, 2007. Pace has addressed the ceremony for six consecutive years, four as vice chairman and two as chairman. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Pace spoke at the convocation for the college's class scheduled to graduate next year. About 60 percent of the class’s 224 students are from the Defense Department, and most of the rest are from other government agencies.
“As we look to the next 10, 20, 30 years of combating an enemy that is not going to confront us tank on tank, we’re going to need all the agencies of national power to be responsive inside the enemy’s loop,” Pace told the students. “We do not have a mechanism right now to make that happen.”
Pace called for legislation along the lines of Goldwater-Nichols to reform the federal interagency process. The act put in place policies and processes that encouraged joint knowledge among the military services and emphasized their potential for collaboration.
Among other things, the legislation increased the responsibility of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, established the position of vice chairman and increased the responsibilities of the combatant commanders.
Now, Pace said, the country needs a similar act to encourage all agencies of the U.S. government to cooperate.
He said the interagency climate, as it exists, does a good job of promoting dialogue about an issue. It also does a good job of laying out for the president what the problem is and recommended solution is, he said.
Though the various departments work well when the president makes a decision and they take on their tasks, the agencies tend to operate inside their “stovepipes,” the general said.
Pace said nobody below the president has the ability to control “the process to make people do things.”
“It takes you back to why we needed Goldwater-Nichols,” Pace said.
Officials could take the same concepts contained in Goldwater-Nichols, Pace said, and expand it to cover the entire national government.
Pace also called on the 31 international officers in the class to treat their classmates as friends, “which means to me that you be open with your criticism in how we operate as a nation.”
The chairman said the 10-month course is an opportunity to open the dialogue and see each others’ viewpoints. The class gives students the freedom to say what they are thinking and why they are thinking it, Pace said.
“Friends are very direct with each other, and we appreciate your time,” Pace said. “We will most benefit from the time you spend with us by you being as direct with us as you can allow yourself to be.” This will allow the future military leaders of all countries involved to explore their common ground and look for ways to bridge any differences.
“I believe fundamentally there is no nation on the planet that is so big that it can do all that must be done by itself,” Pace said. “And there is no nation on the planet that is so small that it cannot have significant strategic impact by the way it does its business.”
This was Pace’s sixth convocation during his terms as vice chairman and chairman of the Joint Chiefs. On Oct. 1, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen takes over as chairman and Pace retires, ending his 40-year military career.
“I hope you have as much pride in who you are right now as we have in you,” Pace told the students. “You really are the best of the best, and … the United States needs the best officers and civilians.
“I feel very good – as I look at 1 October for me to step down – that our nation’s military is in good hands,” he continued. “My son had six years active (duty in the Marine Corps). He’s in the reserves. If he has to go to war and be under your command, I am going to feel very comfortable. That’s not a general talking to subordinates. It’s a Dad talking to potential commanders about that which is most precious to me.”