29 January, 2008

Defense Shills for State?!

Part II of my interview with 3ID's Chief of Staff is up at Castle Argghhh.

One thing the CoS talked about was how important civilian contributions (State Department personnel, contractors, advisors, investors, etc.) were to the success of the mission in Iraq. He also said that the most pressing need right now was reconstruction, especially of the Iraqi economy. Of course, the vast majority of reconstruction is accomplished by American civilian agencies, particularly entities like the State Department.

Today, Consul-at-Arms coincidentally posted a news article about Secretary of Defense Gates urging increased funding for the State Department(!). But this is actually sound policy, and looks to be a case of Gates being driven by what he's hearing from people "on the ground," rather than the bitter inter-departmental rivalries that have plagued the State-Defense relationship in recent years:

Gates acknowledged that having a Defense secretary plead for money for another department could be seen as an improbable "man bites dog" story. And, he added, he plans to ask for still more money for his own agency next year. But Gates also said that he believed increased spending for the State Department was even more important than additional defense spending."What is clear for me," Gates said, "is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security.

...Lately, Gates noted, U.S. provincial reconstruction teams have begun to bring civilian expertise to Iraqis.

"Where they are on the ground, even in small numbers, we have seen tangible and often dramatic changes," he said.

But the so-called PRTs, Gates said, were created on an ad hoc basis, and the U.S. needs to find a way to institutionalize the ability of civilian agencies to work overseas.

In other news...