Whole-of-Government’ Focus Boosts Eucom’s Effectiveness

STUTTGART, Ger­many, May 11, 2012 — Some staff mem­bers at U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand, the old­est and in some people’s view, most tra­di­tion­al of the U.S. com­bat­ant com­mands, thought the “whole-of-gov­ern­ment” con­cept intro­duced about three years ago was noth­ing but a fad.

Ambas­sador Lawrence But­ler, U.S. Euro­pean Command’s deputy to the com­man­der and for­eign pol­i­cy advi­sor, dis­cuss­es region­al secu­ri­ty issues with U.S. Ambas­sador to Latvia Judith Gar­ber, dur­ing the Baltic Sea Region Senior Lead­er­ship Sem­i­nar at the Eucom head­quar­ters in Stuttgart, Ger­many, April 20, 2012. U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand pho­to
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Mike Ander­son, act­ing direc­tor of Eucom’s Inter­a­gency Part­ner­ing Direc­torate, said he knew dif­fer­ent­ly from the start. The idea of pro­mot­ing inter­a­gency col­lab­o­ra­tion that lever­ages all ele­ments of nation­al pow­er to address chal­lenges in Europe and Eura­sia sim­ply made too much sense to fade with the times, he said. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis had already seen the ben­e­fits of inter­a­gency col­lab­o­ra­tion as com­man­der of U.S. South­ern Com­mand when he arrived here three years ago to take the helm at Eucom. Because the Eucom staff inter­faces with NATO and Euro­pean mil­i­taries , Stavridis opt­ed to assign a Napoleon­ic “J code” to the command’s new inter­a­gency part­ner­ship direc­torate to help syn­chro­nize it with the NATO struc­ture and ele­vate its stature with­in his own command. 

South­com, U.S. Africa Com­mand and U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand have since adopt­ed the same J9 mod­el, Ander­son not­ed. U.S. North­ern Com­mand, Cent­com and U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand all also have stand­alone inter­a­gency direc­torates, although they do not des­ig­nate them as “J9” staffs. 

“It’s one thing orga­ni­za­tion­al­ly to make a change, but the more impor­tant thing, in my hum­ble opin­ion, is the cul­tur­al change,” Ander­son said dur­ing an inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. The cul­tur­al change did­n’t come overnight at Eucom, he admit­ted, but thanks to the commander’s empha­sis, vis­i­ble con­tri­bu­tions, and repeat­ed rein­force­ment, it has tak­en hold. 

“Two-and-a-half years into it, it is almost sec­ond nature,” Ander­son said. “The mind­set has changed.” 

What’s accel­er­at­ed that, he said, is more than sim­ply com­mand empha­sis. The proof has been in the pud­ding, the val­ue that comes from incor­po­rat­ing inter­a­gency part­ners direct­ly into the staff. 

Stavridis’ civil­ian deputy to the com­man­der, Ambas­sador Lar­ry But­ler, brings a State Depart­ment per­spec­tive as he advis­es Stavridis regard­ing the command’s mis­sions and activities. 

In addi­tion, the Inter­a­gency Part­ner­ing Direc­torate — a staff of about 30 mil­i­tary mem­bers, DOD civil­ians and agency part­ners from through­out the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment — con­tributes spe­cial­ized exper­tise through­out the com­mand. The direc­torate hosts rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the depart­ments of State, Jus­tice, Ener­gy and Trea­sury, the FBI, Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment, Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, the Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion, U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, Office of For­eign Dis­as­ter Assis­tance and the Jus­tice Department’s Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Inves­tiga­tive Train­ing Assis­tance Program. 

This sprin­kling of “soft pow­er” and law enforce­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives through­out the com­mand brings “vital depth and breadth to our com­mand, its oper­a­tions and our out­reach across the con­ti­nent,” Stavridis said. That, he said, con­tributes direct­ly to the mis­sion and increas­es Eucom’s effec­tive­ness and abil­i­ty to speak and act across var­i­ous orga­ni­za­tion­al cultures. 

“There’s been a huge return on invest­ment,” Ander­son agreed. “This mil­i­tary head­quar­ters of near­ly 1,000 peo­ple has real­ized that the rel­a­tive­ly small invest­ment of 30 peo­ple in this direc­torate makes the plans they are work­ing on and the exer­cis­es they are train­ing on more real­is­tic and bet­ter informed than when they pre­vi­ous­ly were informed by just a sin­gle, Defense Depart­ment van­tage point.” 

Inter­a­gency part­ner­ing has become a foun­da­tion for apply­ing “Smart Defense” at time when bud­gets may be shrink­ing, but threats aren’t, Stavridis recent­ly told Congress. 

Today’s com­plex secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment exceeds the capac­i­ty of any sin­gle gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion, the admi­ral told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in March. 

“It demands whole-of-gov­ern­ment solu­tions that draw strength and effec­tive­ness from the col­lec­tive judg­ment, train­ing and expe­ri­ence of the many pub­lic ser­vants in gov­ern­ment who, work­ing togeth­er, can effec­tive­ly syn­chro­nize the ele­ments of nation­al pow­er,” Stavridis said. 

And par­tic­u­lar­ly in light of con­strained resources, he said, there’s clear recog­ni­tion of the ben­e­fits of bring­ing both “soft” and “hard” pow­er to the table. “At Euro­pean Com­mand, we believe that ’no one of us is as smart as all of us, think­ing and work­ing togeth­er,’ ” Stavridis told the Sen­ate panel. 

The inter­a­gency part­ners’ con­tri­bu­tions extend far beyond their rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the Eucom staff, Ander­son explained. Each has direct reach-back to oth­er experts with­in their agen­cies, as well as work­ing rela­tion­ships with their coun­ter­parts in U.S. embassies in Europe and Eura­sia. Besides host­ing fed­er­al agency part­ners, the J9 direc­torate serves as the command’s lead for inter­act­ing with inter­na­tion­al and non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor, think tanks and academia. 

The pres­ence of oth­er agency exper­tise at a mil­i­tary com­mand has had a huge pay­off at Eucom, enhanc­ing the sup­port it’s able to pro­vide allied and part­ner nations. For exam­ple, East­ern Euro­pean nations that come to Eucom for help in secur­ing their bor­ders — not a tra­di­tion­al U.S. mil­i­tary mis­sion — can tap into exper­tise from oth­er U.S. agen­cies that spe­cial­ize in that function. 

“Now, we have bor­der-secu­ri­ty experts right down the hall­way,” Ander­son said, includ­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment and DEA. And when need­ed, they can call on their respec­tive agency head­quar­ters to dis­patch “A teams” to advise and train part­ner nations. 

“So when you talk about ‘bang for the buck,’ there’s been a real­iza­tion on the staff here that by hav­ing this rel­a­tive­ly small foot­print of inter­a­gency part­ners, we have so much more reach-back to the rest of the ‘whole-of-gov­ern­ment,’ ” Ander­son said. 

As the Unit­ed States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts it focus to pre­serv­ing strate­gic part­ner­ships with Euro­pean allies, Ander­son said the “strate­gic bridges” estab­lished through­out the U.S. inter­a­gency can’t be forgotten. 

“We also don’t want to lose the strate­gic part­ner­ships we have devel­oped with our own fed­er­al part­ners,” he said. “They are strate­gic part­ners as well, and our strength­ened rela­tion­ships with them were also born of cri­sis, after 9/11. And they, too, will be crit­i­cal to our coun­try as we face the future.” 

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

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