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DoD News Briefing - Alina Romanowski, DASD (Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs

Presenters: Alina Romanowski, DASD (Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs)
December 07, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Bacon: Good afternoon. We have a special treat today, and that is Alina Romanowski, who is the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Near East and South Asian Affairs. She is going to talk about the new Near East South Asia Center, called the NESA Center. She is the new head of the NESA Center, as some of you know, and she will start that job on December 18th. So she is going to talk some about the NESA Center, which is the latest of five regional security studies centers that we have set up after the Cold War. The first, of course, was set up in Garmisch, in Germany, and that is the Marshall Center, to educate former Soviet officials in the ways of running militaries in democracies. We have centers dealing now with Asia, Africa, South America, and now the latest is the NESA Center, so after Alina briefs you on that, takes your questions, I will come for the rest of the briefing.

Q: Are there any more parts of the world that you haven't covered with these centers?

Bacon: We have not covered either of the poles.

Romanowski: Thank you, Ken, for the opportunity to talk to all of you about the newest of the regional studies centers that the Department of Defense has established over the last, oh, couple of years. Before I start, I just want to make sure that I understand the equipment here. Okay.

During the first week of November, on the secluded grounds of the National Defense University, more than about two dozen generals, admirals, and senior civilian national security leaders from 18 countries across the Middle East and South Asia came together for an unprecedented gathering to discuss security issues of the region. This gathering was not a summit. It was, rather, in fact, the inaugural seminar of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. It is the latest of five U.S.-sponsored regional security studies centers that really have become pillars of America's comprehensive effort to shape a free, peaceful and prosperous world.

While no one is really under the illusion that enduring regional challenges can be overcome over night, this gathering gave hope that the cycle of confrontation, witnessed particularly in the region over the last month or so, might eventually give way to a spirit of cooperation, partnership, relationships, and deepening the understandings.

Let me talk a little bit about the other centers in general, so that you understand a little bit how the NESA Center comes about.

DoD's five centers really foster the education of the world's military officers and civilian national security officials. These centers are neither war colleges nor forums for conflict resolution, but really they're more academic institutions staffed by international teams of national security experts, with courses that are tailored to the unique needs of each region, on subjects such as defense decision-making, civil-military relations, and budget planning. And I'll talk in greater detail about each one of them.

The centers are powerful forces for promoting stability and security. They are also building bridges between militaries that have often stared at one another through the crosshairs of gun sights. The NESA Center, as well as the Asia Pacific Center, are among the few venues where senior Pakistani and senior Indian military officers can come together, and have come together, in a neutral setting, and where, in fact, in November we had Arab and Israeli officers come together to begin to demystify the myths and alter perceptions about regional security and regional ideas.

Equally important, the NESA Center, like other centers, will help build a network of professional contacts throughout the region. As I mentioned, we have five other centers -- had five other centers.

Let me retreat to the other one. (Referring to slides.) (To staff) We keep advancing. (Pause.)

We'll skip the five other centers.

[Slides used in this briefing are available on line at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2000/g001207-D-0000C.html ]

I'll talk in generally -- I think, in the package that we've provided, you see that there are the five centers. They use professional military education, civilian defense education, and related academic and other activities to achieve their goals. And each center, in coordination with the Office of the Under Secretary of Policy, the Joint Staff, and the regional unified commands, develops a program that is really based on the unique needs and characteristics of the region.

The Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany, is really the oldest. It was established in 1993 and is dedicated to the creation of a more stable security environment by advancing democratic defense institutions and relationships, and enhancing enduring partnerships between the nations of America, Europe, and Eurasia.

Following the success of the Marshall Center, the Asia Pacific Center was established in 1995, at the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu, to enhance regional cooperation and build relationships among the United States and the 43 nations in the Asia Pacific region. It serves as a vehicle for lowering tensions through the mutual understanding and the study of comprehensive security issues facing that particular region.

After that, the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies was established, also at the National Defense University, and is designed to promote expertise in the defense and military matters, and to enhance civil-military relations among Latin American nations. CHDS, as we call it, supports the democratic trend that we've been seeing in Latin America by strengthening democratic institutions throughout the region.

The fourth center was the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. It is also part of the National Defense University and really provides current and future African leaders a unique forum for interaction that complements other existing DoD peacetime engagement programs in Africa.

And finally we come to the NESA Center, and we ask: Why the NESA Center? Why -- was it simply established because, as someone earlier asked, it was the only other geographic region that didn't have a center?

It really came out of a recognition that it was indeed necessary to develop what we would call a non-war-fighting vision for the region's security and stability, beyond managing it through bilateral relations and also beyond today's crises.

The region when you look at it, really, has very few organizations and institutions that can provide an opportunity to deepen understanding and foster partnerships on regional security issues. Over the past years, the level of U.S. engagement in this region has increased substantially, as we all know. And the Gulf War in particular pointed out that there was need for cooperation and partnerships and relationships among countries of the region and its key security partners.

In the post Cold War world, this region really must work together to find ways to address its emerging security challenges if it hopes to enhance stability and bring peace to such a volatile region. I think as the end of the Cold War has shown in every part of the world, including this region, security is much more than just a military problem. It's economic. It's political. And in fact it's multilateral.

And finally, there is no doubt that significant progress in the Middle East peace process has opened doors and broken down barriers in ways that has created the conditions to support a different security environment in that region. So, our challenge really is to support this emerging trend in many ways. And the NESA Center, while it is not designed to fulfill this vision alone, is an important element of support. It is an inclusive academic forum for NESA regional civilian and military national security professionals. The countries that are actually participating in it are all those with whom the United States has diplomatic relations. So, basically at this point, countries that cannot be and are not being invited are the Libyans, the Iraqis, the Iranians, and the Afghanis.

We also want to include countries that we call -- that have a strategic interest in the region. Some of those are, for example, the British, the French, the Japanese, the Russians, the Chinese, the Turks, for example. There are many in the region, right outside on the periphery of the region they consider themselves to have strategic interests and the countries in the region consider that they have important relationships and depend on those countries. And we will to the extent that we can make sure that those countries are also included in the academic program and activities that the center will undertake.

Q: How many countries --

Q: How many countries are going to be involved in this, aside from the peripheral interested countries? How many countries?

Romanowski: I knew you were going to ask me that exact number. I believe we have 21 what we would call core countries. And if you look at the geographic, sort of, piece of real estate that we have included as core countries here, we start from Morocco, we go along North Africa through the Levant and all the way across to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

It is part of the National Defense University for organizational purposes and where it is located. In fact, it is over at the Transpoint, or U.S. Coast Guard building that is right behind the NDU main facility, and essentially it officially opened October 31st, when we held our inaugural event. The concept for the center really began in the Spring of 1999, and during Secretary Cohen's travels to the region, he really began talking about the concept of such a center with his counterparts and with the leadership as he went through the region back in Spring of 1999. And in fact, during that visit and subsequent visit it was very clear that the region was very supportive of this idea and this concept that we were trying to develop.

The secretary formally approved the plan for the center in December of 1999 and essentially, since then, our office has been developing further that plan and have begun implementing the process of standing up such a center. And essentially where we are now is, a director has been appointed, and we are beginning to undertake renovation and actually building a curriculum and we had an inaugural seminar.

If we can go to the next slide, I will talk a little bit about the mission statement. It is essentially to enhance stability in the region, and that's what we are trying to do. We're going to do that by providing an inclusive academic environment, as I mentioned, to study the issues in the region, the threats in the region and ways in which you can look at solutions to various problems.

If you can go to the next slide.

Q: Could I just --

Romanowski: Sure. No, go ahead.

Q: Just briefly, why -- the first two of course were established in Garmisch and in Hawaii, which are two natural places for them to be. Why are these three at NDU? Is it because this is such a huge areas, it's hard to find a central point? Or is it just perhaps cheaper to have it at the new centers at NDU rather than in the areas involved?

Romanowski: There are a lot of reasons for why those three centers were -- ended up in NDU. For the NESA center in particular, if you look at the region that we span, the geographic region, we actually span three unified commands. And so in order to be able to support each of the unified commands in the context of what they are doing in those various regions, we felt that a center that could bring together the commands as opposed to putting them in one particular command was probably a better way to serve what the mission and the purpose of this particular center was going to be about.

(Referring to slide.) Again, this is just a breakdown a little bit more clearly of the mission's objective.

Let me go to the next slide to talk a little bit about the kinds of activities. It's very similar to some of the -- to many of the other centers. We'll start with the core program that is essentially an executive course that will last about three weeks and is aimed to attract what we call O-5, O-6 and civilian-equivalent leaders in their military and their national security ranks, hoping to attract not just military but also foreign affairs officials and any other arm of national security that the countries believe could benefit from attending the course.

We also hope to -- we will be hosting a one-week senior executive seminar which basically targets the flag officer and very senior leadership in those countries.

In order to bridge the various commands and also recognizing the fact that the region itself has some very subregional concerns, the center will be as flexible as it possibly can by hosting a series of regional and subregional and perhaps even single-state conferences that can either be held in Washington, in some of the unified commands, in the region, in order to have that flow back and forth in Washington and in the region to take advantage of unique aspects of whatever the conferences -- the topics will be.

Q: You mean kind of like the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial; this is only at a lower level, getting people in from Southeastern Europe, kind of thing?

Romanowski: You could look at it that way. That actually is a conference that is held by the ministers. Here you could do the same thing; you could have it at that level, you could have it at a lower level. One of things that the center wants to do is be responsive to what the region feels it needs as well. So we are very involved in discussing with the regional leadership and ministries to see what it is that the center can do, because this is not just a center for us, it's also a center for the region.

Q: And -- sorry -- not meaning to interrupt you for forever.

Romanowski: No, that's quite all right.

Q: But is this going to have, like Garmisch and Hawaii, is this going to have like graduating classes, one or two, or however many times a year?

Romanowski: Yes. We will start out, hopefully this year, with two three-week seminars and one one-week seminar.

Q: When you say this year, you mean -- obviously -

Romanowski: January 2001. Yes, I'm already after New Year's for my own thinking. I've done my holidays; I'm already at the first of January!

Q: That was two three-week seminars, one --

Romanowski: Two three-week seminars, which is the length of our course. The centers vary in length of courses. Some are as long as 19 weeks at Garmisch, and Africa Center, I think there is two weeks in the regional all the time.


Q: How do the people get selected to come? How much does it cost for them to come? And who pays the bill?

Romanowski: We work with our embassies in the region to help us identify, along with the countries who will participate.

Q: Do they have to be invited, or does the country nominate them?

Romanowski: The countries essentially are going to nominate them.

Q: And then the cost?

Romanowski: At this point, we are paying for all of the countries that are considered by World Bank standards to be developing countries. The developed countries will be paying their own way for travel expenses and what we call room and board.

Q: While we think about it, since if we do something on this, the first question that will arise with these countries is, what are the 21, could you get back to us through Ken's office and let us know what --

Romanowski: I'll give you specifically the countries.

Q: -- as soon as you can what the countries are.

Romanowski: Yes.

Q: Is Israel one of them?

Romanowski: Yes, Israel is one of them. It is in that --

Q: The Gulf countries?

Romanowski: Let me see if I -- yeah. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt -- I'm sorry, not Libya. I'm sorry. I'm doing my map here.

Q: Libya isn't -- (off mike).

Romanowski: I already said Libya was not -- right.

Q: Chad?

Q: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia --

Romanowski: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt.

Q: Israel.

Romanowski: Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Q: You said Nepal twice.

Romanowski: I'm sorry.

Q: But is there one that you're --

Romanowski: I said Bangladesh, yeah. Those are what I would call the core countries, standing invitation.

Q: Each one of those -- you said EUCOM, PACOM and CENTCOM, and you're going to have the curriculum run through all three of those commands -- (off mike) -- say, yeah, that's exactly what we want to do?

Romanowski: Right.

Q: Is there going to be some participation by the Palestinian Authority?

Romanowski: At this time, no.

Q: About the cost? I don't know, maybe you've said it already, but how much will the program -- what budget will it have next year?

Romanowski: The budget that I have, basically, for next year is about $3.5 million.

Q: You named 20 countries.

Romanowski: Yes. [Update: the 21st country is the Maldives.]

Q: Plus the U.S.

Romanowski: Plus the U.S. And again --

Q: Will American military officers participate as students?

Romanowski: As students, yes.

Q: Will it have a permanent faculty?

Romanowski: Yes. It will have a permanent faculty. It will have a staff. We are in the process of actually building, that you will notice, if you go in on our web site [ http://www.ndu.edu/nesa/ ], that there are already announcements for the dean of academic affairs, as well as the -- some faculty positions. I would have brought the slide for the organizational structure, but I thought all of you would consider that to be an eye chart. But we can make that available to you, yes. It has a staff for faculty and basically an administrative staff that will be able to support, you know, running this kind of a center. It's about 20 -- 20 people right now.

Q: Will you be director?

Romanowski: Yes. As of December of 18th, I will be the director.

Q: (Off mike.)

Romanowski: Correct. We're in the process of --

Q: Are they all Americans, or --

Romanowski: No. We are hoping that we will have an international staff.

Q: How about the dean?

Romanowski: The dean? I don't know who the dean will be yet.

Q: Is it going to be an American?

Romanowski: Not necessarily. We'll see.

Q: Is it an appointed position for you, or is this permanent?

Romanowski: It is not a permanent position.

Q: So when the new administration comes in, can you be replaced? That's kind of an impertinent question, but --

Romanowski: I --

Q: Because you're a political appointee right now.

Romanowski: No, I am not a political appointee. I'm a career.

Q: Oh, you're not! How fabulous.

Q: So this is just --

Q: Is this an addition?

Romanowski: No, I was doing this an additional duty before, as we were beginning to develop the plan -- the concept, the plan and how it would look like, we were doing this under -- in our office as part of -- as all the other centers have also --

Q: (Off mike) -- be doing --

Romanowski: But now -- yes.

Q: It's going to be at Coast Guard Headquarters at Buzzard's Point?

Romanowski: Mm-hm. (Affirmation.) It's right next to the Center for Hemispheric Studies, for those of you who have been following the regional centers in their development.

Q: (Off mike) -- Lincoln's people? Is that where --

Romanowski: If we -- let me make sure that I haven't forgotten to give you some very other important information. As we -- as the center grows, you will also notice that a lot of the other centers have fellowship programs, alumni activities, and other forms of keeping the alumni fresh with new changes in the curriculum, what we call distance learning services.

So, as the center grows, those are also the kinds of activities we will -- hopefully the center will be able to undertake.

(To staff) If we can go to the next slide.

For those of you who are interested in the curriculum and sort of the kinds of subjects and the focus of the three-week curriculum, this is what we are beginning to build on. The inaugural seminar was very much a mini version of this. We wanted to validate -- one of the purposes of the inaugural seminar was, in fact, to validate that we had the right kinds of emphasis in the curriculum, by offering sort of what I call a mini version of this to our inaugural participants. And we will be building on this curriculum.

(To staff) We can go to the next slide.

Q: I'm sorry, is that curriculum basically indoctrinating these folks in the way the American military approaches things, because I see there's lots of near and dear -- like revolution in military affairs, you know, Pakistan --

Romanowski: Well, let me answer this question in two ways. One, this is not -- this is a center that is designed, and the curriculum and the way in which we will be teaching is very much designed to draw on and to create -- to draw on the participants, because the participants, in fact, themselves are practitioners of national security, and also have a lot of ideas and views on security and how you manage security, both in the region and elsewhere.

So we are constructing a way in which we can teach, which has already been tried by many of the centers, where you do a lot in seminars. So while in -- there will have to be a certain amount of laying of common ground and sort of teaching in what we all sort of know as sort of the academic way -- lectures or discussions -- there will be also a way in which you break down in much smaller groups so you actually interact and you talk and you bring your own experiences.

So it will be not just that the United States is there talking about our national security strategy in the region, you will have people from all over the region talking about what theirs are, and to gain -- part of that first block of the curriculum is designed to do exactly that. And then to talk about things like revolutionary -- we call it revolution in military affairs, but the same phenomena is being experienced, I think, in certain parts of the region.

So these are just ways in which you can begin to talk about these issues in a regional context.

Q: Perhaps you said it and it just went right by me, but the reason these four countries are being excluded is because they're on the State Department's list for supporting terrorism?

Romanowski: No.

Q: Why?

Romanowski: They are not countries with whom we have relations.

Q: Oh, I see.

Q: What about Chad?

Romanowski: Diplomatic relations.

Q: I'm really curious about Chad.

Q: Sudan: Is Sudan --

Romanowski: Sudan. Well, actually Sudan -- Sudan would fall under the Africa center.

Q: Really, Chad. Can you just give me an answer.

Romanowski: I'll have to get back to you on that answer, because I don't do the Africa center.

Q: Oh, isn't that -- that's part of the --

Romanowski: Chad is not in the NESA center.

Q: Isn't it right in there?

Q: Is it lower?

Q: What does that slogan mean by the way?

Romanowski: "A Safer World, One Leader at a Time."

Q: What are you going to do to one leader at a time?

Q: Get rid of or add?

Q: And who thought it up?

Romanowski: Who thought it up?

Q: Actually --

Romanowski: I'm not going to tell you who thought it up.

Q: What does that mean?

Romanowski: Basically what it means is, I would leave you with the following thoughts about these centers: The centers are not just, as I said earlier, a way to impart knowledge, academic knowledge, but they are a way to have people work through concepts, ideas, as well as build networks. And I think probably one of the best ways to characterize what we all hope these centers will achieve in one very important part is a story that Secretary Cohen often relates when he talks about these centers. He says that as a senator in 1984, he met with the poets Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Voznesensky in the Soviet Union at the time. And as he left his meeting with Yevtushenko, he said to him, "You and I must stay in contact with each other, otherwise we'll forget our faces." And I think that like other elements of America's comprehensive effort to shape a more stable and secure world, institutions like the NESA center and all of the centers we're doing ensure that we bring people together to talk, to share ideas, to demystify each other, to deepen our understanding, so that in fact when there are crises and when there are problems to solve, you're not forgetting each others' faces. You've met people.

In fact, in may of the centers -- I'm not talking about it here, but many of the centers have already demonstrated their success by showing that the people who come to the centers turn out to be leaders in their own countries.

And so when we say we're building a safer world a leader at a time, it's through sharing ideas, exchanging views, exchanging information, and working on these problems together.

Q: Sounds like an assembly line. Well, you're producing something here.

Romanowski: No, it's not an assembly line process. In fact, it's exactly not. Each of these centers is very much distinct and very focused on the regions that they are trying to work with.

When you go to the Marshall -- I've been to probably almost all of them at this point, in trying to work on developing the NESA Center, and they're very, very tailored to the regions they are looking at. And they're very responsive to what the new issues are coming about in the regions. They are not cookie-cutter approaches, and they are not assembly line process. And I didn't mean, by putting up this cute slogan, that that's what we meant. But it is very much a focus on bringing people together and spending time together talking about these issues in this kind of a forum.

Thank you.


Romanowski: Thank you.

Q: Yeah.

Q: How long -- (off mike)? Is it a tenured -- I mean, a two-year or --

Q: It depends on -- (off mike).

Q: You have tenure!

Q: It depends on how --

(Cross talk, laughter.)

Romanowski: I have tenure in the federal government, unless I really mess up. Thank you.

Q: You better watch the -- (off mike) -- budget --

Romanowski: That's right. I mean, watch -- thank you.

Bacon: Thank you very much. This was a great briefing. Welcome back. Any time you want to come back and talk about NESA, you can. Thanks a lot.


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