Pentagon wins turf war with State over military aid

Josh Rogin writes at about the expanding realization that State is still not situated to be America’s foreign policy arm.

The Pentagon has won a major internal battle over control of foreign assistance funding, delaying the Obama administration’s pledge to demilitarize foreign policy, multiple sources tell The Cable.

DOD and State have been fighting vigorously over who would be in charge of large swaths of the foreign assistance budget, billions of dollars in total that are used to aid and work with governments all over the world. Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have emphasized the need to rebalance national security spending away from the military and toward the diplomatic core, but behind the scenes their offices have struggled to determine where the lines should be drawn. …

Insiders working on the issue also suggested that State didn’t match up bureaucratically inside the fight. The Pentagon just has so many more people and resources to bring to bear, and besides, the State Department’s strategy review, the QDDR, isn’t complete. [emphasis mine] …

The slow pace of rebalancing national security spending and the lack of a comprehensive strategy for guiding that process is the subject of a new book by former OMB national security funding chief Gordon Adams, entitled Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home.

"The tool kit is out of whack," Adams told The Cable. "There’s been a major move over the last 10 years to expand the Defense Department’s agenda, which has been creeping into the foreign-policy agenda in new and expensive ways."

This is not surprising. I wrote back in September that the US Department of Agriculture was asking for $170 million to be reallocated from State, USAID, and DOD to USDA for its work in Afghanistan. We have seen sadly too little support for State’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization up to now despite past efforts.

Hopefully the QDDR, State’s own strategy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, will be a blockbuster. This is unlikely because this strategic planning and programming is not in State’s DNA and the only senior person with experience with something like the QDDR is the Secretary, who was exposed as a Senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, I’m eager to see the final QDDR and hope substantial change comes out of both the process and the recommendations.

See also:

  • A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom at Progressive Policy Institute
  • Hybrid Threats Require a Hybrid Government at Stimson Center
  • Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom at
  • State Dept Project Signals Foreign Policy Shift at Washington Independent

One thought on “Pentagon wins turf war with State over military aid

  1. While I’m also very interested in reading the QDDR when it comes out, I’m somewhat pessimistic about what will be in it. Not only, as you point out, does State not have strategic planning and programming in its DNA, it also does not have the same culture of self-review and critique that DoD has. U.S. military folks are inured from the beginning of their careers to after-action reviews and lessons learned processes where people willingly stand up and say, “We did this wrong.” I wonder whether the people conducting the QDDR are really prepared to be objective, and clearly state the bad (along with the good, of course) without sugar-coating it, or outright dismissing it. If the report comes out saying everything at State smells like roses, we’ll know they didn’t.

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