The Modern DoD: Guns, Money, and… Public Diplomacy?

As of Monday, the U.S. Army’s Stability Operations Field Manual is in circulation. The field manual will be used as the go-to guide for officers conducting “Stability Operations.” The Washington Post reporting:

The Army on Monday will unveil an unprecedented doctrine that declares nation-building missions will probably become more important than conventional warfare and defines “fragile states” that breed crime, terrorism and religious and ethnic strife as the greatest threat to U.S. national security….

Such “stability operations” will last longer and ultimately contribute more to the military’s success than “traditional combat operations,” according to the Army’s new Stability Operations Field Manual, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

“This is the document that bridges from conflict to peace,” said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where the manual was drafted over the past 10 months. The U.S. military “will never secure the peace until we can conduct stability operations in a collaborative manner” with civilian government and private entities at home and abroad, he said.

The stability operations doctrine is an engine that will drive Army resources, organization and training for years to come, Caldwell said, and Army officials already have detailed plans to execute it. The operations directive underpinning the manual “elevated stability operations to a status equal to that of the offense and defense,” the manual reads, describing the move as a “fundamental change in emphasis” for the Army.

While much of the commentary surrounding the manual has focused on the strategic implications of “elevating stability operations,” I can’t help but think such discussion misses the true significance of turning the U.S. military into a nation-building force. Namely, the militarization of American foreign policy.

National security strategy can be divided into three broad categories: defense, development, and diplomacy. Defense is the strategic use of armed forces to either protect American assets or destroy the assets of the enemy. Development is the strategic use economic resources to provide material security for either our allies or our potential enemies, thus reducing the likelihood that they will become a security threat to America. Diplomacy is the use of strategic communication with both foreign populaces and organizations in an attempt to persuade them away from becoming a threat to the United States.

American defense, development, and diplomacy have traditionally been directed by the United States Department of Defence, Agency for International Development, and Department of State. Each department provides one leg of the foreign policy stool. This creates a system of checks and balances, promotes specialization and efficiency, and forces policy makers to see international affairs through various lenses.

Yet the checks are disappearing; the balance now tilts heavily in favor of the Department of Defense.

Consider, for example, the Defense Department’s latest budgetary request:

“The Defense Departmentwill pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to “engage and inspire” the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

The new contracts — awarded last week to four companies — will expand and consolidate what the U.S. militarycalls “information/psychological operations” in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.”

Huh. The Department of Defense wants $300 million to produce media that will “engage” a foreign populace? Does Defense realize that the Department of State employs an Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy whose job is to, “lead the U.S. government effort in the global ideological engagement with international audiences?”

I could continue on in this fashion for quite a while, noting the increase in humanitarian tours taken by Navy ships, the spike in non-military aid provided by the U.S. military, or the new hard power-lite type military organizations that are springing up across the world, but I think you get the point. Not a day goes by where the Department of Defense is not trying to overstep its bounds.

Yet that is not the worst of it.
The worst is that I really can’t condemn them for it. A strategic epiphany has occurred in the halls of the Pentagon; the Department has realized that if they want to emerge victorious from Iraq and Afghanistan, if America wishes to be kept safe from terrorist attacks, then the use of diplomacy and development is imperative to our success.

Yet both State and USAID are still suffering from the budget cuts of the 1990’s. The State Department is understaffed and overworked. USAID lacks the funds to meet basic treaty obligations. Expecting these departments to accomplish the lofty goals set for them by policy makers is simply ludicrous.

In stark contrast, Congress has yet to see a Defense budget it doesn’t like. Defense gets the money and State counts paper clips. With this lopsided budget, it should come as no surprise that the Department of Defense is turning into the United State’s diplomatic arm.

The Defense Department is fighting for victory. If no one else will get the job done, we cannot blame our military commanders when they move forward and get the job done themselves.

Tip of the Hat toMountain Runner for the WaPo links and to DiploPundit for some 10 stolen sentences and phrases.

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