State Surge

By Kate Brannen / October 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A growing consensus among national security experts holds that in order for the U.S. military to be successful in the types of missions it is fighting, it needs better support from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. But for that to happen, these other federal agencies need a dramatic boost in resources, some of those experts said this week.

"We have more members in military bands than we have foreign service officers," said retired Lt. Col. John Nagl, at a panel discussion yesterday hosted by the Center for a New American Security, where he is a senior fellow.

While Nagl said he likes a John Philip Sousa march as much as the next guy, he is willing to scrap bands in favor of compact discs if it means defense dollars can be spared for the State Department. "We need a bigger State Department more than we need a bigger Army," said Nagl. "I believe that very strongly."

At the same event, a discussion titled "Officership In a Time of War," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, voiced similar sentiments.

"I'd like to see a surge in the State Department," he said, crediting both "kinetic and non-kinetic solutions" for the decrease in violence in Iraq.

And in that vein, Chiarelli ascribed the recent decline in violence not just to the fabled surge of additional troops, but to the Anbar Awakening -- the movement among Sunni tribes to act as security forces alongside coalition troops -- and the work of people like Paul Brinkley, the deputy under secretary of defense for business transformation, who led the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Iraq.

"I happen to believe it's more than just the five BCTs ((brigade combat teams)) that are responsible for the security situation that we see today," said. Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

A new report from the RAND Corp., "Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence," takes up similar themes. The report argues that to better prepare for future military interventions, "the United States needs to shift substantial resources to the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and military-civilian efforts must be integrated from top to bottom."

It also recommends:

"A major increase is needed in U.S. resources for non-military activities -- where the ratio between military and non-military national security spending is now 17 to 1. This should include adding at least 6,600 Foreign Service officers for the State Department, 2000 for USAID, and recreating a separate “United States Information Agency-like” agency."

The provisional reconstruction teams in Iraq are good examples of military and civilian officials teaming up, performing tasks for which they are best suited, said an Army colonel in the audience at the CNAS event.

"If you marry the military's capacity with discrete civilian expertise, it is a winning combination," said Michele Flournoy, president and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security. She said the military can provide security, transportation, planning and expertise to better enable their less-resourced civilian counterparts to do their jobs.