Gates Calls Development Integral to Security

WASHINGTON — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates was part of a high-pow­ered pan­el dis­cus­sion of the new U.S. glob­al devel­op­ment pol­i­cy here today.

“Devel­op­ment is a lot cheap­er than send­ing sol­diers,” Gates said dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

Gates, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton, Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Tim Gei­th­n­er and Rajiv Shah, direc­tor of the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, told a meet­ing of the U.S. Glob­al Lead­er­ship Coali­tion that focused devel­op­ment is an inte­gral part of Amer­i­can for­eign and secu­ri­ty poli­cies.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma laid out the pol­i­cy dur­ing his speech to the Unit­ed Nations last week. The idea is that the glob­al devel­op­ment pol­i­cy will be a pil­lar of Amer­i­can pow­er, along­side diplo­ma­cy and defense. The pol­i­cy seeks broad-based eco­nom­ic growth, pro­mo­tion of good gov­er­nance and it seeks the sta­bi­liza­tion of coun­tries emerg­ing from cri­sis or con­flict. At its heart, the pol­i­cy looks to alle­vi­ate pover­ty and advance basic human dig­ni­ty.

“We are mak­ing sure that devel­op­ment is an inte­gral part of America’s nation­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy and is part of an inte­grat­ed approach that includes devel­op­ment, diplo­ma­cy and defense,” Clin­ton said.

There are short- and long-term objec­tives to the pol­i­cy, Gates said. In the short run, the Unit­ed States can­not suc­ceed in Iraq and Afghanistan with­out devel­op­ment. “In the fights that we’re in, the civil­ian com­po­nent is absolute­ly crit­i­cal to suc­cess,” he said. “What we’ve dis­cov­ered as we went along – and I think we came to it way late – was that the civil­ian side of the gov­ern­ment in the are­na of devel­op­ment was sig­nif­i­cant­ly under-resourced.”

When he retired as direc­tor of Cen­tral Intel­li­gence in 1993, Gates said, the Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment had 16,000 peo­ple. “They were deploy­able, they were expert, they expect­ed to live in harsh con­di­tions – often in frag­ile secu­ri­ty,” he said. “When I came back into gov­ern­ment (in 2006), AID had about 3,000 peo­ple and it was basi­cal­ly a con­tract­ing agency.”

The U.S. gov­ern­ment needs an inher­ent devel­op­ment capa­bil­i­ty with com­mit­ted pro­fes­sion­als to car­ry out this work, Gates said.

For the longer term, devel­op­ment poli­cies sup­port what in the mil­i­tary is known as ‘Phase 0,’ the way to pre­vent con­flict and the need to send in troops, Gates said. “The way you do that is through devel­op­ment. Devel­op­ment cre­ates sta­bil­i­ty, it con­tributes to bet­ter gov­er­nance,” he said. “If you are able to do those things, if you are able to do it in a focused and sus­tain­able way, then it may be unnec­es­sary to send sol­diers.”

Still, in some areas and for some crises, it may be nec­es­sary to send mil­i­tary per­son­nel to pro­vide secu­ri­ty, Gates said. “But devel­op­ment and secu­ri­ty are inex­tri­ca­bly linked – you can’t have devel­op­ment with­out secu­ri­ty and you can’t have secu­ri­ty with­out devel­op­ment,” he said.

Gates out­lined three aspects of the pol­i­cy he thinks are most impor­tant: sus­tain­abil­i­ty; the need for U.S. gov­ern­ment and the coun­try being helped to make choic­es; and part­ner­ing with non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions.

The mil­i­tary has car­ried the bur­den of devel­op­ment since 2001, but that bur­den is lift­ing, Gates said. “In the past year, the civil­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Afghanistan has tripled,” he said. “We can con­tribute and we do some devel­op­ment work, but it’s not our core com­pe­ten­cy. The truth is, if you talk to a colonel who is a brigade com­man­der in Afghanistan and ask him about the con­tri­bu­tion that a sin­gle civil­ian pro­fes­sion­al lead­ing a (provin­cial recon­struc­tion team) brings, he will tell you they are a giant force mul­ti­pli­er.”

Hav­ing that civil­ian exper­tise and the kind of peo­ple who look on this work “as a call­ing and a pro­fes­sion,” makes all the dif­fer­ence, Gates said.

Clin­ton and Gates both crit­i­cized con­gres­sion­al action to strip devel­op­ment mon­ey from the State Depart­ment bud­get. Clin­ton joked that the Defense Depart­ment gets all the mon­ey it asks for, while State has to argue over what would be small change in Defense. Gates com­pared the strip­ping of the mon­ey to the scene in the movie Char­lie Wilson’s War when Con­gress, after spend­ing bil­lions to help the Afghan muja­hed­din toss the Sovi­ets out of Afghanistan, would­n’t spend a mil­lion dol­lars for schools.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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