Defense changing to better Coordinate with State, but…

DoD to Better Coordinate Strategic Communication with State by Steve Corman

…Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has emerged as an unlikely champion for the State Department, which has traditionally competed with DoD for money and influence.  Over the last year or so he has called again and again for more funding for diplomatic efforts.

Defense is changing, but what about State?

Yes, we all want Defense to cede leadership and ownership of strategic communication and public diplomacy to State, including Defense. We know that American public diplomacy wears combat boots, from the militarization of foreign policy to dominating strategic communication to contractors. However, while Defense may try to push responsibility onto State, the reality remains that State must be capable of taking on responsibility. This includes having an informed and capable leadership. At its bare bones it it means having any leadership at all.

But we cannot forget the role of Congress in this required shift. State must gain the confidence of Congress before money and responsibility is transferred from Defense to State. This transfer will be at best zero-sum. It also means State must gain the confidence of other agencies as it necessarily becomes the hub organization for the United States Government and even the public in general. But one step at a time. 

To borrow (steal) Mike Doran’s analogy, there are a lot of plugs out there looking for a State socket. Steve describes the Defense plugs in the Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review and Irregular Warfare Joint Operating Concept, but there are a lot of others. 

Where then are State’s sockets? Who will manage them and who will tirelessly promote, defend, and develop them? 

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