Monday, January 11, 2010

No, "DOD" Does Not Stand for "Department of Development"

Also relating to my post on Saturday on the topic of U.S. global development policy, here's a reality check on the role of the DOD in development that I got in an email from Gordon Adams who for five years was Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (the senior White House budget official for national security):
1.Such efforts are not central to the DOD/military mission, but by-products of the military role in Iraq and Afghanistan (and a few other countries where counter-terrorist operations are under way). We have government agencies for which development is the mission, notably USAID.

2. The focus of DOD's effort is not development, but meeting near-term mission needs for commanders. The net result is investments that are not oriented toward long-term development, but acquiring "hearts and minds," as part of the military mission. Projects end up not deriving from a country-based view of development needs, and are, as the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has noted, often not sustainable in the long run.

3. Empowering DOD for this mission has the consequence of further weakening State and USAID; Congress concludes they are not capable of their mission, with the result that a growing civil-military imbalance gets even worse.

4. In the end, making DOD responsible for development is counter to US national interests, because it puts a uniformed face on US forward engagement, which is not universally appreciated. In turn, this makes further US steps more difficult as other countries and peoples come to see the US forward engagement as military, and driven by US security interests, not development.
And this from a colleague in the Armed Forces, who concurs that DOD is not a development agency, but adds
I still think there is more of a role for the DoD than simply developing technologies. The military also has core competencies in logistics, command and control, monitoring and evaluation, ops research, training, program management, etc, which USAID or other agencies could leverage as part of their development efforts. If nothing else, the military could help USAID and DoS developing these capabilities within their own organizations, or assist when they share a common footprint in various countries.
BTW: Gordon Adams is now a Professor at American University's School of International Service. He and Cindy Williams have just come out with a great book titled Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home.

Anonymous DOD guy is ... anonymous DOD guy.

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