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Educate to cooperate: leveraging the new definition of "joint" to build partnering capacity.

On January 22, 2009, in his first major address on foreign policy following his inauguration, President Barack Obama stated that "[d]ifficult days lie ahead. As we ask more of ourselves, we will seek new partnerships and ask more of our friends and more of people around the globe, because security in the 21st century is shared." Confronting shared security challenges in coming years will test the capacity of the Department of Defense (DOD) to effectively partner with its allies, other governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and at times even the private sector. The last comprehensive legislation enacted to improve partnering capacity within DOD was the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.


Goldwater-Nichols was designed to facilitate more effective cooperation among the military Services within DOD and was suited to the Cold War strategic environment in which it was enacted. The education and training of DOD personnel for the multifaceted security challenges of the coming century should reflect the vastly different threat environment that has arisen since the end of the Cold War and should be tailored to the missions and tasks that DOD will be asked to perform over the coming decades. This article recommends several changes to officer education programs, personnel assignment policies, and DOD's security cooperation programs in order to advance its ability to effectively partner with external actors.

One key step needed to increase DOD partnering capacity has already occurred. Substantial legislative changes were made in 2007 to the definition of joint matters under the Goldwater-Nichols construct, broadening the aegis of the term and better reflecting the modern demands of cooperation by DOD with varied external partners. As a continuance of this process under the revised definition, additional expansion of the types of assignments and educational experiences considered "joint," to include liaison officer positions and exchange tours, would help prepare personnel more fully for the demands of working with external actors in the 21st- century strategic environment.

To ensure that its efforts to work with allies to build cultural and operational familiarity correspond with the demands of coming years, DOD's extensive and important security cooperation with foreign partners should incorporate reciprocal exchanges whenever possible to reflect a mindset of mutual respect and shared responsibility. To correspond with the broadened definition of joint matters in the 2007 legislation, joint professional military education (JPME) credit should be considered for a broader range of educational experiences. "Off-ramps" and "on-ramps" for departing and reentering military Service should be more readily available to DOD personnel, contributing to a more responsive system for shaping human capital. Given that it takes more than 30 years to educate and train the military's most senior leaders, a less static strategic environment necessarily demands a more flexible, adaptive system for educating military officers and preparing them for the complexities of modern joint operations.

The New Definition of Joint

Since the passage of Goldwater-Nichols in 1986, joint duty has implied a job typically held by a field grade or senior officer, working on a staff with representatives from the other Services. In the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a substantial requirement for expertise in working with external actors has arisen at the tactical level. Junior officers find themselves interacting directly with a host of external actors, from foreign coalition partners to other governmental agencies and NGOs to local citizens in a variety of roles. The extraordinary complexity of these activities, both with respect to irregular warfare and stability operations, as well as more conventional kinetic operations occurring within the modern post-Cold War milieu, necessitates much broader skill sets at much earlier points in officers' careers.


The personnel system set up by Gold-water-Nichols was enacted at a time when massive kinetic operations were the primary capability necessitated by the Army's AirLand Battle doctrine and the Navy's Maritime Strategy, which focused on the Soviet blue-water threat. Goldwater-Nichols made major contributions regarding the interoperability of the Services themselves and focused on the operational and strategic levels of war. Some efforts have already been made to improve partnering capacity with external actors, and further work is needed to improve DOD's capacity in this sphere, especially at the tactical level.

Prompted by shortcomings in inter-Service coordination during both the Desert One debacle in Iran in 1980 and the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Goldwater-Nichols made great strides in addressing shortcomings in the ability of the Services to effectively partner in planning and executing joint operations. Especially in light of the profound difficulties encountered within the U.S. interagency process in planning for the postconflict phase four of U.S. operations in Iraq, numerous calls have been made for a "Goldwater-Nichols for the interagency community." (1) Yet any broad reorganization of the U.S. national security apparatus should reflect the importance that effective partnering, not only with other U.S. Government actors but also with other state and nonstate actors, has across nearly the full spectrum of U.S. military missions. The Goldwater-Nichols legislation made sweeping changes to the authorities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders, diminishing the role of the Services, whose outsize influence was seen by Congress to have been a substantial impediment to the effective planning and conduct of joint operations.

A critical function of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation was its impact on military personnel management policies, and the effect of those policies on the career paths of officers and the distribution of human capital within DOD. The legislation created a staff-centric model for the determination of joint duty assignments, and the Services were thus statutorily required to assign top officers to the Joint Staff, at combatant command staffs, and other multi-Service staffs. The January 2009 DOD Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report states that "[s]ince our Nation's future security depends equally on interagency cooperation, coordination, and integration efforts, building unity of effort requires us to expand the concept of jointness beyond the Department of Defense." (2) In 2007, Congress made an important legislative change to the Title 10 definition of joint matters established under Goldwater-Nichols. Under this change, joint matters now include "matters related to the achievement of unified action by multiple military forces." Importantly, the definition of multiple military forces has been expanded to encompass forces that involve "participants from the armed forces" and one or more of the following: "other departments and agencies of the United States; the military forces or agencies of other countries; and non-governmental persons or entities."

This change was made in large part as an adaptation to on-the-ground reality in Afghanistan and Iraq. Members of Provincial Reconstruction Teams and multinational training units, who engage and coordinate with many disparate organizations at the tactical level, had not previously received joint credit because their billets had not been designated joint under the prior system. Reserve officers, who have borne a substantial portion of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, were also made eligible for joint credit under the 2007 legislation. The legislation has been implemented by DOD under a new framework called the Joint Qualification System. Under the previous system, only specific billets listed on a document called the Joint Duty Assignment List (JDAL) were authorized joint credit. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff's Manpower Directorate have worked diligently to develop and implement a new system through which military officers can self-nominate their experiences on a publicly available Web site, and those experiences are then assessed by the Joint Staff J1 Manpower and Personnel Directorate for validity under the new definition for joint matters.

These efforts have begun to reshape the nature of the idea of joint duty in the military lexicon, and over time will influence and alter decisions about career trajectory by officers. But a more comprehensive assessment is needed of the nature of a joint assignment and the experiences that will best equip the future military for partnering activities not only within DOD itself, but also with governmental and NGOs external to DOD. Assignments that lie within a grey area under the new current definition for joint matters are liaison officer and exchange billets. Unless personnel serving in these positions are detailed from a joint command under a previously existing JDAL billet, they often are not seen to meet the requirement for achieving unified action, even under the new definition for joint matters. Thus, Service prioritization for joint duty assignments will continue to reflect the staff-centric model for joint assignments created by the original Goldwater-Nichols legislation.


Duty on a joint staff benefits a Servicemember in many ways, both substantively and with respect to the military promotion process. Officers in joint tours become familiar with their fellow Services and experience first-hand the process through which joint forces are requested and then utilized by combatant commanders to fight the country's battles and to support national security objectives more broadly. The staff-centric nature of the Goldwater-Nichols model has greatly enhanced the power and depth of the combatant commands as well as the Joint Staff.

Other types of assignments not currently considered joint serve to embed participants directly within a partner organization and thus expose them to the core skill sets and culture of that organization. These assignments are deemphasized by Service assignment policies because of the nature of the Goldwater-Nichols model and the types of assignments eligible for joint credit. For instance, the Air Force assigns air liaison officers to Army units, where they serve within and alongside those units to facilitate and coordinate close air support training and execution in conjunction with aviation units. This approximately 300-officer commitment is one that the Air Force struggles to meet, in part because those officers do not receive joint credit despite their complete immersion in an Army organization. (3) Similarly, one of the more effective cooperative endeavors between the Army and Navy has been the incorporation of Army Ground Liaison Officers (GLOs) who deploy aboard aircraft carriers in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. GLOs have served with Air Force units for many years, but their incorporation aboard aircraft carriers is a recent development, born of a need for closer coordination between Navy aircraft providing close air support and ground component elements. Shipboard GLOs brief flight crews before each combat mission and debrief them on their return, coordinating with ground units to optimize the air support the carrier air wing provides. Despite being some of the most knowledgeable officers in the Army with respect to naval aviation procedures and Service culture, GLOs typically do not receive joint credit.

Numerous Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) partnerships exist through which military personnel serve or exchange with other U.S. Services as well as foreign militaries. A Navy pilot, for instance, who serves and deploys with an Air Force unit through the program will likely possess substantially greater familiarity with Air Force operations and structure than would be gleaned from the typical joint duty assignment on a multi-Service staff, and thus be all the more qualified to serve in a billet that requires oversight of coordination and interoperability between both Services. Officers who serve as Legislative Fellows attached to Member offices or committee staffs on Capitol Hill, or in think tanks under the Federal Executive Fellows program, also do not receive joint experiential or educational credit under the current construct for determining joint duty assignments, despite receiving substantial exposure to national security and interagency process issues.

Because many direct exchanges between partner organizations already exist, the broadening of joint credit to "partnering credit," or an addition of partnering credit as a formal qualification under the military personnel system, could continue to build the military's capacity to partner with external organizations without undoing the important structures and processes that have developed under the Goldwater-Nichols construct. In the case of personnel exchanges, familiarity rarely breeds contempt. With few exceptions, participants typically return to their organization of origin with newfound respect and appreciation for their host agency or organization, and a vastly improved knowledge of its procedures and organizational culture. Greater emphasis on exchanges, with a close eye on preservation of key core warfighting skill sets, will result in a military, and a national security community more broadly, that is more interoperable, more joint, and less parochial.

Foreign Language Training

A useful analogy for building partnering capacity in an individual and an organization more broadly can be taken from one of the most important educational components of DOD's current partnering strategy: foreign language training. Two broad, differing approaches to studying foreign language could be taken, just as two general approaches to defining joint assignments are possible. An individual could study a wide array of most or all languages that might be of utility, learning basic phrases and briefly immersing in the culture of each one. A second strategy would be to focus on only one or two languages, despite the fact that one may eventually work in a job requiring engagement with other countries and cultures than those studied. Longer term immersion in a foreign culture, with exposure to its language and lexicon, is useful not only to better understand that specific country and its people, but also to learn strategies for integrating into a different environment. This exposure prepares officers to effectively incorporate the contributions of external actors upon return to their organization of origin. Both approaches provide benefits, and an ideal exposure to foreign cultures and foreign organizational cultures more broadly would probably incorporate a combination of both techniques.

DOD has already made substantial efforts to prioritize and allocate additional resources to language training in recognition of the utility of foreign language capacity in meeting its current and foreseen mission requirements. The 2005 DOD Defense Language Transformation Roadmap (DLTR) suggests that "[l]anguage skill and regional expertise are not valued as Defense core competencies yet they are as important as critical weapons systems." (4) An important element of the DLTR is the extension of foreign language training beyond its traditional place in the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) and cryptologic communities. The foreign language training policies that the DLTR has initiated are similar in some respects to those utilized by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) militaries and other allies, for whom speaking a foreign language, especially English, is often seen as an unquestionably mission-critical core competency. Most NATO militaries offer language training not only to specialized personnel dealing with foreign relations issues, but also more widely to all officers who serve in combat arms units. Furthermore, periodic refresher and immersion courses are offered for officers who have received language training. The DLTR seeks to leverage existing language capabilities within the U.S. military and to reach out to "heritage" speakers of second languages in the United States for recruitment, especially in strategic languages for which DOD has "current and projected requirements." (5)

In finance, portfolio theory refers to the idea that diversification should be utilized to lower aggregate risk. (6) A version of this same logic has led the military to broaden its language training portfolio, ensuring that foreign language capabilities are both more prevalent in the force and more diverse, focused on but not limited to identified languages of particular strategic importance.

In future years, the military may be able to leverage its organic foreign language capabilities by training more of its existing second language speakers, along with personnel who have received formal DOD language training and completed language-utilization tours, to serve as teachers. This idea of training the trainers was the genesis of the Navy's original strategy in creating the Fighter Weapons School, "Top Gun," to create tactics instructors who then taught those tactics to personnel at their units of origin. The result was a substantial increase in the overall tactical proficiency of the organization. Because of the importance of allowing for diversity and individual choice in language study, such a process might best be managed at the mid-echelon command level rather than the unit level.

More broadly, because of the diverse array of capabilities required of the modern full spectrum warrior, no single individual can specialize in all relevant areas. Instead, a wider range of organizational and educational experience could be leveraged through a more formalized system through which each officer exposed to a relevant discipline is then expected and encouraged to communicate and teach those skill sets to others upon returning to his or her operational unit. Just as we ask ourselves whether we could be training our own personnel more effectively for 21st-century missions, we should also examine the concomitant processes used by DOD for training allied and partner militaries.

Foreign Military Assistance Programs

Substantial resources are devoted, by DOD and other agencies such as the Department of State, both to train foreign military personnel and to build the capacity of those militaries to partner and operate with our own. In a report highlighting the growing importance of security assistance and advocating the creation of a permanent Army Advisor Corps, John Nagl cites the Counter-insurgency Field Manual, which states that "while [foreign internal defense] has been traditionally the primary responsibility of the special operating forces ... training foreign forces is now a core competency of regular and reserve units of all services." (7) How well does our current system for educating and training our own military personnel prepare them for this teaching mission? Additionally, given that poorly conceived or executed training programs that strike foreign participants as excessively condescending or didactic can engender long-term animosity while teaching short-term skills, how do we best develop capacity and interoperability of our foreign partners while simultaneously increasing our own? Such questions regarding efforts to build integrative and partnering capacity within DOD should be considered with a view to the message communicated by the aggregate perception of our nation's many efforts in this arena.

The United States devotes substantial resources to training and education programs for foreign military officers, and these programs have proven critically important to U.S. ability to operate with foreign allies. In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program was funded at approximately $80 million to train nearly 8,000 foreign military officers and related civilian personnel in programs both within the United States and abroad. The Foreign Military Financing Program, which like the IMET program is funded by the State Department but administered by DOD, was funded at approximately $4.5 billion in FY 2008, and supports foreign purchase of both "defense articles and services (to include training)." (8) Section 1206 of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act provides DOD authority to train and equip foreign forces for capacity-building purposes. It was funded at $293 million for FY 2008, and its authority has been extended through FY 2011. The training supported by these programs, which are but three of a wide range of security cooperation initiatives, is critical to building capacity within our foreign partners.

Some programs also exist to provide U.S. military personnel with language instruction and cultural immersion abroad, many of which are tailored to the military's FAO programs. Although many U.S. forces are stationed abroad, opportunities for dedicated immersion training in foreign cultures, especially in regions of strategic interest, are much more limited. Many of the IMET-funded programs offer short-term immersion opportunities in the United States to foreign officers, who typically are sent because they are perceived to have the highest command potential within their cohort of officers in their own service. By expanding opportunities for reciprocal short-term exchanges, U.S. combat arms officers can improve their knowledge of foreign militaries and cultures or refresh foreign language skills on a timeline that allows maintenance of warfighting skills in their core specialty. The Marine Corps has recently begun an experimental Short-Term Exchange Program as a complement to its longer running PEP, which has expanded from 31 to 36 Active-duty billets in the past 5 years. (9)

Return on investment in building capacity in foreign partners is notoriously difficult to enumerate and calculate, especially for nonreciprocal programs. Exchange-based security cooperation programs offer a twofold benefit. First, because of the reciprocity of these programs, calculations of return on investment are somewhat less complex, as both participating organizations simultaneously build their own partnering capacity. Second, this desire for reciprocity communicates a key message to our foreign partners. In an excellent study by the late sociologist Charles Moskos (which should be mandatory reading for anyone working on military security cooperation or partnering issues), the author and his team interviewed a range of foreign military officers to examine the effect of their training on perceptions of the United States. (10) He quotes a Canadian officer who stated that "the American attitude is you need us, we don't need you." (11) Reciprocal exchanges have the advantage of implicitly communicating the message that the United States equally values the exposure of its own personnel to other countries and cultures. Because we are more geographically isolated than many of our allies, developing knowledge of other cultures and languages is in some ways an uphill battle, and this is a perception among foreign officers that Moskos additionally notes.

The range of organizational familiarity and partnering skills required of modern officers is simply too great for any one individual to possess in-depth awareness in all relevant fields, especially given the critical importance of maintaining warfighting skills in combat arms officers' areas of core competency. A train-the-trainers portfolio theory approach to building these capacities would be facilitated by a further expansion of the definition of joint, or a revised interpretation of the 2007 legislation, to include all liaison and exchange assignments that occur outside an officer's area of core competency. A restriction on consideration of intra-Service assignments was lifted by the 2007 changes to Title 10. For instance, a Navy surface warfare officer, submariner, or pilot serving as a liaison with a SEAL team might be eligible for joint credit if the nature of his assignment were deemed suitable to afford the officer significant experience with joint matters. The 2007 legislative changes allow joint credit to be accrued "via duties with DOD, interagency, non-governmental, or international organizations and include long-term assignments or brief periods of intense joint operations." (12) Many such assignments are not currently eligible for joint credit, however, because of the interpretation of the legislation's requirement that these assignments be "related to the achievement of unified action." "Forging a New Shield," the report of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), argues that "the system is grossly imbalanced. It supports strong departmental capabilities at the expense of integrating mechanisms." (13) Expanded use of interdepartmental and foreign exchanges would serve as a useful integrating mechanism, breaking down cultural barriers and improving interoperability.

The 2007 legislative changes to Goldwater-Nichols also set the stage for a greater role for organizations that might serve as interagency planning fora, as suggested in the PNSR report. Both U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and U.S. Africa Command have structured their organizations to improve capacity for interagency and multinational partnering. Both organizations have moved beyond the traditional model of a State Department Political Advisor to incorporate a State Department civilian deputy to the combatant commander who, alongside a military deputy, exercises the full responsibility and authority commensurate with that position. Liaisons from numerous governmental agencies that are stakeholders in the region are incorporated seamlessly within the organizations' partnering directorates. The traditional Goldwater-Nichols model caused resources and human capital to accrue at the combatant commands. Because of the requirement, until recently, to serve in a designated JDAL billet to accumulate joint credit, top performing officers have typically been required to serve within Joint Staff structures to remain viable for promotion, and the resultant improvement in coordinative capacity of the regional and functional combatant commands has been crucial to the U.S. ability to execute joint operations in the post-Cold War era.


When passed by Congress, the Goldwater-Nichols model was tailored to the realities of the Cold War environment. Since then, national security leaders have been recommending changes that reflect the greater need for integrative mechanisms in the post-Cold War era. Admiral James Stavridis, while USSOUTHCOM commander, made efforts to offer the resources and expertise of the command's headquarters as a "velcro cube" for representatives from other agencies, as collaborative interagency planning and coordination are key to U.S. Government implementation of its strategy in that theater. Through the establishment of a partnering directorate headed by a Senior Executive Service-level DOD civilian, and the creation of a public-private cooperation program that seeks to coordinate with NGOs and private sector stakeholders, USSOUTHCOM seeks to incorporate consideration of the three contributors to a sustainable security strategy--defense, diplomacy, and development--in an integrative forum. The expansion of the definition of joint matters in the 2007 legislation, however, potentially set the stage for the establishment of integrative mechanisms and organizations outside of the DOD structure specifically, within which military officers plan and coordinate alongside other stakeholders from both within and outside the government to implement the National Security Strategy.

Challenges of the Modern Era

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair cited the risks posed by the present economic crisis as the primary security risk currently facing the United States. These threats include "regime-threatening instability," testing the ability of the United States, in conjunction with partner nations, to meet challenges posed by failing or failed states, and multinationally shared threats such as piracy and cyber attacks that originate or become manifest in the global commons. The conduct of stability operations, codified as a core mission of DOD in Directive 3000.05, is especially dependent on effective partnering with external agencies, countries, and organizations in confronting these risks. Among other measures, DOD Directive 3000.05 calls on the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to:

5.3.4. Develop opportunities for DOD personnel to contribute or develop stability operations skills by: Undertaking tours of duty in other U.S. Departments and Agencies, International Organizations, and NGOs; Participating in non-DOD education and training programs relevant to stability operations; and Learning languages and studying foreign cultures, including long-term immersion in foreign societies. (14)

DOD's guidance on stability operations reflects the fact that the demands of modern conflict and security cooperation are causing skill sets that have traditionally been required primarily of the military's FAOs to become more relevant to combat arms officers. In a spring 2009 article in the Naval War College Review, Admiral Stavridis and Captain Mark Hagerott argue that because of the increased requirement for officers who are familiar with joint, interagency, and international operations, the Navy must develop three broad fields for officers, each of which would have opportunities for command of operational units, thus preserving the Navy's "culture of 'command at sea.'" (15) The three tracks they propose are joint/ interagency, technical, and general operations. They suggest that officers serving in the general operations community would ideally serve in more than one platform community within the Navy--for instance, a tour on a surface ship prior to attending flight school or nuclear power school. Technical track officers would receive specialized scientific and technical educational opportunities and would be well positioned for command of large functional combatant commands, such as U.S. Transportation Command or U.S. Strategic Command. The joint/interagency track would incorporate educational aspects found in FAO programs such as in-depth language training and graduate education in regional or related issues, coupled with tours in at-sea command assignments. The implementation of such a plan would likely necessitate reevaluation of the FAO programs as well, and the manner through which the military utilizes and integrates officers who excel in those communities. Avenues for reintegration of FAOs into their communities of origin would allow these officers to continue beyond the terminal colonel/captain rank to which most FAOs are limited, and permit DOD to utilize some of the military's most experienced officers in joint and interagency issues in positions of increased responsibility.

As our world has become more globalized and interdependent, so too have agencies of the U.S. Government become more dependent on each others' expertise and that of their allies, thus testing the traditional model for educating DOD's military officer corps. Some other recent innovations within the military's personnel system offer promise with

respect to efforts to further develop integrative capacity by preparing officers for the challenges of coming years. The Navy's recent "Career Intermission Pilot Program" allows 20 officers and 20 enlisted personnel to depart Active duty for 1 to 3 years, and return with an adjustment made to their date of rank such that they could continue to compete for promotion on equal terms with their new peers. (16) The primary rationale for this type of program, providing an off-ramp and on-ramp for service, was to make military duty more compatible with the requirements of parent-hood, especially for female officers.

Yet substantial interest in the program has been noted from other groups--for instance, Navy SEALs, whose high operations tempo and interest in relevant language and educational experiences serve as key incentives. One of many advantages of broadening such a program would be the creation of a means for individual Servicemembers to choose their own educational opportunities that they believe will best assist them in effectively contributing within their career path upon their return to the military. Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, noted that "to acquire the skills that would make me an effective counterinsurgent, I had to leave the Army." After combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he left the military and completed a Master's degree in Middle Eastern studies at the American University in Beirut along with Arabic language study in Cairo. Exum, who founded the counterinsurgency blog Abu Muqawama, is completing a Ph.D. through King's College London, and notes that if an on-ramp existed for a return to the Army, he would consider returning for the chance to apply his recent educational experience to the tactical environment. Such methods for providing a more flexible and market-based means for military officers to develop in areas they perceive would help them better contribute to the military would result in a more agile, responsive system for building human capital at minimal additional cost.

The development of "Human Terrain Teams" in Afghanistan and Iraq represents an effort to incorporate individuals with rigorous academic backgrounds, particularly in anthropology, to assist units in the field at the tactical level in achieving counterinsurgency goals, and demonstrates the recognized utility of nontraditional fields of study for the accomplishment of tactical military objectives. Graduate education in these fields is often not offered through the military's own institutions for postgraduate education, and must be pursued through civilian institutions. Service academies currently limit the number of officers permitted to pursue civilian graduate education following graduation. The Navy's Scholarship Program allows approximately 20 graduating Midshipmen to participate in civilian programs that afford a full or partial scholarship, and the other Service academies have similar programs facilitating civilian graduate school for a small number of officers. Participating Midshipmen incur a service obligation of 3 years for every year of school, served concurrently with other obligations. By limiting this number to 20, the Navy reduces the return on investment of its expenditure on the university education of its officer candidates. Allowing graduating officers and midgrade officers to accept scholarships for graduate education increases the human capital of the officer corps at limited cost to the Navy and better prepares them for the complex national security challenges of the modern era.

The 2007 legislative changes that altered the definition of joint matters have begun to diversify the types of experiences considered joint and contribute to the military's integrative capacity. No accompanying change was made to the JPME system, however. Other educational experiences that contribute to an officer's ability to integrate with external stakeholders to best achieve unified action should be considered for JPME credit. Right now, the military's war college system is the only source for the credit generally required for selection to unit command and that serves as a component of a Joint Qualified Officer designation, now a requirement for promotion to flag rank. DOD's implementation of the 2007 legislation has created a Joint Qualification System that seeks to better categorize and differentiate levels of joint experience and qualification, with four separate levels replacing the previous binary "yes or no" of designation as a Joint Qualified Officer. Similarly, a broader range of educational experiences that prepare officers to effectively operate with "other departments and agencies of the United States... the military forces or agencies of other countries ... and non-governmental persons or entities" should be evaluated and categorized under revised JPME criteria. Civilian graduate school programs in relevant disciplines, and especially graduate school experience that takes place abroad (such as the military's Olmsted Scholarship program), should be considered for joint credit under a revised JPME framework to better capture how aggregate educational experience prepares an officer to effectively collaborate with external stakeholders in the newly redefined broader joint environment.

Organizational Reform

A reflection of the utility of enhanced educational opportunities for military officers can be perceived in the role of a number of Army warrior-scholars in reviving the historical lessons of counterinsurgency in recent years and helping to turn the tide of America's efforts in Iraq. In his analysis of the "surge" in Iraq in his recent book The Gamble, Tom Ricks notes that officers who had taken substantial time in their careers to study and reflect on the lessons of the past, among them General David Petraeus, Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl, and numerous others, many of whom have taught in West Point's Social Sciences Department, were crucial to innovating and engineering a change in the 2007 Iraq strategy that reversed a deteriorating cycle of violence and insurgency. (17) The core document that distills these rediscovered lessons relevant to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency, draws on the writings of T.E. Lawrence and notes a number of "Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations." Among these are cautions that "sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is," "many important decisions are not made by generals," and "some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not shoot." (18) Another classic paradox in international relations theory more broadly is the "security dilemma." (19) As a state builds its defenses to enhance its own security, it is perceived to threaten the security of others, causing them to build their defenses, resulting in arms races and diminished collective security. Thus, attempts made by states to increase their own security can in fact diminish it.

International relations theorists suggest that such destructive loops can only be mitigated through efforts to improve communication and to signal nonhostile intent in manners that can be interpreted by other states as such. Efforts to improve the U.S. military's capacity to partner with foreign actors in confronting mutual threats to security posed by failing states and other shared threats arising in the global commons, while at the same time preserving core warfighting skill sets, will have the additional effect of encouraging similar efforts in allies and potential allies. If we are unable to do so, a failure to prepare to collaborate effectively with other states and confront mutual threats may prove not a paradox, but instead a self-fulfilling prophecy.


(1.) See, for example, James R. Locher III et al., Forging a New Shield (Washington, DC: Project on National Security Reform, November 2008); Clark A. Murdock et al., Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: U.S. Government and Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era, Phase 2 Report (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 2005); Clark A. Murdock and Richard W. Weitz, "Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: New Proposals for Defense Reform," Joint Force Quarterly 38 ([3.sup.d] Quarter 2005); and Martin J. Gorman and Alexander Krongard, "A Goldwater-Nichols Act for the U.S. Government: Institutionalizing the Interagency Process," Joint Force Quarterly 39 (4th Quarter 2005).

(2.) Department of Defense (DOD), Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report (Washington, DC: DOD, 2009), 36, available at <>.

(3.) Travis D. Rex, The Time Is Now: Advocation for a Professional Air Liaison Officer Corps (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University, 2007), 12.

(4.) DOD, Defense Language Transformation Roadmap (Washington, DC: DOD, January 2005), 5.

(5.) Ibid., 5-6.

(6.) See Harry M. Markowitz, "Foundations of Portfolio Theory," Journal of Finance 46, no. 2 (June 1991).

(7.) John A. Nagl, Institutionalizing Adaptation: It's Time for a Permanent Army Advisor Corps (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, June 2007), 4; and U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 6-3, emphasis added in Nagl, 4.

(8.) Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management, "Introduction to Security Cooperation Management," training presentation, Dayton, OH, available at <>.

(9.) Brigadier General Richard M. Lake, USMC, Director of Intelligence and Senior Language Authority Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, statement before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on September 10, 2008, concerning United States Marine Corps Foreign Language and Cultural Awareness Efforts, Washington, DC, available at < pdf>.

(10.) Charles Moskos, International Military Education and Multilateral Military Cooperation (Alexandria, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, January 2004), 19, available at <>.

(11.) Ibid.

(12.) DOD, "Joint Qualification System Implementation Plan," March 30, 2007, 5, available at <>.

(13.) Locher et al., vi.

(14.) DOD Directive 3000.5, "Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations," November 28, 2005, available at <>.

(15.) James G. Stavridis and Mark Hagerott, "The Heart of an Officer: Joint, Interagency, and International Operations and Navy Career Development," Naval War College Review 62, no. 2 (Spring 2009), 35.

(16.) See Chief of Naval Operations, "Career Intermission Pilot Program," March 31, 2009, available at <>.

(17.) Tom Ricks, The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 (New York: Penguin, 2009), 231.

(18.) U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, 48-50.

(19.) See Charles L. Glaser, "The Security Dilemma Revisited," World Politics 50, no. 1 (October 1997).

Lieutenant Commander C. Spencer Abbot, USN, is the U.S. Southern Command Representative at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
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Title Annotation:FORUM
Author:Abbot, C. Spencer
Publication:Joint Force Quarterly
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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