Lynn Cites Importance of Programs to Prevent Conflict

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 — Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III expressed con­cern today that as the U.S. gov­ern­ment tight­ens its fis­cal belt, pro­grams crit­i­cal to pre­vent­ing con­flict — many fund­ed by the State Depart­ment — could fall vic­tim.
Lynn, speak­ing at the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al and Strate­gic Stud­ies’ 2011 Glob­al Secu­ri­ty Forum, said fis­cal restraint will require some tough, cal­cu­lat­ed choic­es about defense spend­ing.

“The chal­lenge for us is to nav­i­gate our nation’s fis­cal cir­cum­stances with­out dis­rupt­ing the capa­bil­i­ties of the world’s most effec­tive mil­i­tary force,” he told the audi­ence. “We need to make the right judg­ments about the nature of our future secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment,” invest­ing in capa­bil­i­ties and force struc­ture and adapt­ing tech­nol­o­gy and doc­trine as threats evolve and mature.

Pre­dict­ing the next big con­flict has nev­er been easy, Lynn acknowl­edged.

“In fact, we have a par­tic­u­lar­ly poor track record of pro­ject­ing when, where and against whom we will fight,” he said. “Sec­re­tary [Robert M.] Gates has described our record in this regard as per­fect — we have nev­er got­ten it right.”

Increased invest­ment in intel­li­gence assets may help to make these pre­dic­tions more suc­cess­ful, Lynn said dur­ing a ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion fol­low­ing his address. But the bet­ter chance of suc­cess, he said, boils down to pre­vent­ing con­flicts from hap­pen­ing in the first place. That means, he said, more front-end invest­ment in pro­grams man­aged direct­ly by the State Depart­ment or in part­ner­ship with the Defense Depart­ment.

Among them are pro­grams that pro­mote secu­ri­ty assis­tance, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and improved gov­er­nance.

“The hope would be that we would head off crises before they reach the stage where the U.S. [need­ed] to deploy mil­i­tary forces, that we have addressed the prob­lems in advance,” Lynn said.

Look­ing across the scope of chal­lenges the Unit­ed States faces, the deputy sec­re­tary said, the goal would be to iden­ti­fy “caul­drons of con­flict” and “address the panoply of them and bring them all back from a boil so we won’t have to deploy mil­i­tary forces.”

One prob­lem in this approach, Lynn said, is that the secu­ri­ty assis­tance and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment spend­ing need­ed to sup­port these ini­tia­tives fund­ed through the State Depart­ment could suf­fer as gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions reduce their spend­ing lev­els.

Gates has been a staunch advo­cate for increas­ing the U.S. government’s civil­ian inter­na­tion­al assis­tance capa­bil­i­ties, includ­ing those with­in the State Depart­ment. His argu­ment has been a straight­for­ward acknowl­edge­ment that oth­er parts of the gov­ern­ment must take on some of the duties such as nation-build­ing and inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment that the mil­i­tary has tak­en on by default.

Sit­ting side by side dur­ing con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny in March, Gates and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton pressed the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Committee’s defense sub­com­mit­tee to approve sup­ple­men­tal fund­ing crit­i­cal to both depart­ments to sup­port ongo­ing con­tin­gency oper­a­tions.

“Our joint tes­ti­mo­ny today reflects the close coop­er­a­tion of our two depart­ments and the impor­tance of a prop­er­ly fund­ed and inte­grat­ed civ­il-mil­i­tary approach to the chal­lenges we face in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world,” Gates said dur­ing the March 25 hear­ing. “I would like to offer my strong sup­port for the pro­grams fund­ed in the State por­tion of the sup­ple­men­tal request, with­out which our mil­i­tary efforts will not be suc­cess­ful.”

Suf­fi­cient State Depart­ment fund­ing is expect­ed to be par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal as the Unit­ed States pre­pares for a troop draw­down in Afghanistan.

“We are in the midst of the begin­ning of the next step” of the oper­a­tion, Lynn told the CSIS audi­ence today. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, is expect­ed to make rec­om­men­da­tions “in the very near future” about how to imple­ment the phased U.S. mil­i­tary draw­down in Afghanistan Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced 18 months ago, he said.

But as Gates and Oba­ma have made clear, the Afghanistan draw­down plan will be “con­di­tions-based,” Lynn said.

“It will depend on judg­ments about the strength of the Tal­iban, about progress in terms of capa­bil­i­ties of the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces and the abil­i­ty of the Afghan gov­ern­ment to take an increas­ing­ly larg­er role in the secu­ri­ty func­tion,” he said.

“That shift will start very soon and will progress over the next cou­ple of years to that full tran­si­tion that is pro­ject­ed for 2014,” Lynn said.

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

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