Minutes for March 8, 2016 Official Meeting
U.S. ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
MINUTES AND TRANSCRIPT FROM THE QUARTERLY PUBLIC MEETING ON REVAMPING EFFORTS TO COUNTER VIOLENT EXTREMISM AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 | 10:00-11:30a.m.
Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, D.C.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:
Mr. Sim Farar, Chair
Ambassador Lyndon Olson, Vice Chair
Ambassador Penne Korth Peacock
Ms. Anne Terman Wedner
Ms. Leslie Westine
COMMISSION STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Dr. Katherine Brown, Executive Director
Mr. Chris Hensman, Senior Advisor
Ms. Michelle Bowen, Program Support Assistant
The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy met in an open session from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 to discuss the future strategic direction and revamping of efforts to counter violent extremism at the newly-established Center for Global Engagement, led by Mr. Michael Lumpkin, which is based at the U.S. Department of State. Mr. Lumpkin presented remarks on the efforts to move forward a broader strategy to intensify a “whole-of-government” approach to CVE both domestically and internationally, and the Center’s priorities. He took several questions from the audience and their details are in the below transcript. Chairman Sim Farar closed the meeting briefly discussing the Commission’s ongoing congressional mandate and activities for 2016. The Commission will meet publicly again on May 12, 2016.
Sim Farar, Chairman: Good morning. Welcome to our public meeting for United States Advisory Committee on Public Diplomacy. I’m Sim Farar and I’m Chairman of the Commission. I recently became Chair and would like to sincerely thank Bill Hybl, who served as the Chairman for our Commission for a number of years for his service and his guidance through many valleys and mountains. He is traveling today. He is in Budapest but I’m pleased to say that he will continue to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Commission.
Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has been charged with appraising U.S. government activities intended to understand, inform and influence foreign publics. It also works to increase the understanding of and support for these same activities. The Commission conducts research and symposiums that provide assessments and inform his course in public diplomacy and efforts across government. Our signature product is the Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting released, which was released in September 2015. Copies of this Executive Summary of the report are available on the welcome table in front. Our 2016 report will be released this year on September 21st.
Today, we are thrilled to welcome the Coordinator for the new Center for Global Engagement at the State Department, Michael Lumpkin. Thank you for taking the time out to come today. We really appreciate it. Before I turn the mic over, I’d like to introduce our Commission. To my left is Ambassador Lyndon Olson. He’s our Vice Chairman with us from Waco, Texas. Seated next to him is Anne Wedner of Chicago, Illinois. We have Ambassador Penne Peacock from Austin, Texas and Leslie Westine of Washington, DC. Thank you all for coming too. For more detailed biographies on each Commission Member, you can find them up front and please help yourself to the list of all the members. Now I’d like to welcome Ambassador Olson to formally introduce Michael Lumpkin.
Lyndon Olson, Vice Chairman: Thank you Mr. Chairman. As the Chairman said, we have Michael Lumpkin with us today as our featured speaker. Mr. Lumpkin currently serves as the Director of the new Center for Global Engagement at the State Department. Previously, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, a Senate-confirmed position from 2013 to 2016. Mr. Lumpkin oversaw all special operations including counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and was a humanitarian in disaster relief efforts. Prior to that, Mr. Lumpkin served as a Senior Executive in the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. His previous positions include Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Principal Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/ Low-Intensity Conflict and the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mr. Lumpkin also has significant experience in the private sector where he served as the Chief Executive Officer at Industrial Security Alliance Partners and Executive Director of Business Development at ATI. Mr. Lumpkin has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a United States Navy SEAL, where he held every leadership position from Platoon Commander to Team Training Officer. He participated in U.S. campaigns and contingencies throughout the world to include Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He holds a Master’s degree from the Naval Post-Graduate School in National Security Affairs and he is a recognized subspecialist in Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and in Western Hemisphere Affairs. Michael, we’re glad to have you this morning. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.
Michael Lumpkin: Thank you so much for those kind words. It truly is an honor to be here. First of all, I’d like to thank the Advisory Commission for its continued efforts to call attention to the importance of public diplomacy. Your comprehensive annual reports and specific recommendations are very useful as we look at ways to improve how we use public diplomacy in foreign affairs challenges of the 21st century. I’m very pleased to be part of the effort in meeting those challenges and hope to explain to you this morning a little about the role of the Global Engagement Center in doing so.
As I see it, the world is more complex and threats more dynamic today than at any point in my 30 years working in the national security arena. While we still have a list of states such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia that are mainstays in our threat matrix, our most chronic and agile global threat comes from violent non-state actors and the inability of fragile states to effectively respond to them. Just as our most significant threats are global, we need a global response to address them. While we must maintain constant political pressure on those nation states in our threat matrix, we must go toe-to-toe with violent extremist groups as we also strengthen fragile and vulnerable states. This is where we see the difference between simple and easy - simple to say, not so easy to do. Strengthening a fragile state is a long-term commitment that requires dedication and real resourcing that transcends shifting political winds. It can take decades and a lot of money. I think of where Colombia was in the 1980s and where they are now after decades and billions of dollars.
In January, I was tasked to head the Global Engagement Center as it evolves and grows out of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, or the CSCC. At the same time, the Administration announced a broader strategy to intensify a “whole-of-government” approach to countering violent extremism both domestically and internationally. These efforts include the establishment of a new domestic task force based at the Department of Homeland Security focused on countering violent extremism and increasing the resources and personnel at the State Department that are also devoted to this mission, to be led by the Bureau of Counterterrorism. Like the Bureau of Counterterrorism, the Global Engagement Center is also undergoing change with additional staff and funds and a new approach to disrupt the messaging and countering the narrative of violent extremism, Da’esh in particular. Today I’d like to talk a bit about my new assignment to lead -- and to revamp -- these efforts but first, for those who may not be familiar with the Center, let me touch on just a little bit of its history.
The Center’s direct forerunner, focused on strategic counterterrorism communication, was created by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in September 2010. She saw the need for an interagency operation to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide public communications activities directed at audiences abroad and targeted against violent extremists. A year later, President Obama signed an Executive Order to define the interagency nature of the CSCC and to confirm its mission.
At the time, the threat was al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents. From its beginnings, al-Qa’ida was very much focused on communications, which in the late 1990s meant press statements via fax machines and grainy video tapes. Even as they adopted and adapted to the Internet, al-Qa’ida maintained a centralized communications operation with relatively tight message control.
Now the threat is Da’esh. It has also evolved and adapted its communications strategy, with a three-tiered approach to getting its message out. There are central media hubs creating the top-line messaging for an on-line, global audience; provincial information offices to localize those messages; and a broader base of supporters to amplify them.
Da’esh has proven to be a force in blasting out its propaganda reaching millions of people daily in a campaign strategy that portrays their group as a bourgeoning community. Despite their barbaric actions, they routinely project themselves as peaceful and quite normal—showing families eating together and teenagers playing video games.
For Da’esh, the information space is as important as the battlespace. Even in the past two years, we’ve seen their messaging become more creative, more adventurous, and more importantly -- global. It’s essentially become a sophisticated full-service news operation; making news, then packaging and disseminating it.
Unfortunately, despite the best effort of past leaders of CSCC, our response to Da’esh propaganda has been under-resourced, too slow and too cautious. Don’t get me wrong; there are highly talented, creative people working on this issue. But, in the face of a nimble, adaptive opponent unconstrained by truth or ethics, our people have been left swimming in bureaucracy, using outdated technology.
Bottom line: We have not put the required priority and resources against this problem-set. As a result, the United States and our allies are conceding the information battlespace to a far less capable enemy.
Those that know me know that I am not one to just sit back and admire a problem. There is much more we can be doing, which is why when asked I agreed to take on this new role. The State Department is standing up a new operation—the Global Engagement Center—which is taking a fundamentally different approach. Soon, a new Executive Order will update the mission and authorities of the Center.
That said, we are upending the current paradigm. There isn’t one magic counter-messaging bullet, and we shouldn’t waste time looking for one. Clearly, a multi-layered approach is in order.
So, what is different now? Let me give you five important points:
1. We now clearly recognize that the information battlespace is equally important as the physical battlespace, and that global violent extremist groups are becoming increasingly networked as allegiances between them come and go.
2. In 2001, the U.S. military’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) began to appreciate the OPS/Intel cycle. That is where intelligence informs the operations that in turn result in more intelligence, to be used in future operations. Here -- in 2016 – we are beginning to fully appreciate that an OPS/Messaging cycle also exists. We need to fully leverage it. Operations can drive messaging and messaging can drive operations.
3. There is a wealth of credible voices across the Middle East—governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups—that are not being fully tapped for this fight. These include people from vulnerable communities who have first-hand knowledge and experience of Da’esh’s violence. While we have a good message to tell, we are not always the most credible voice to tell it. Going back to the first point about the networked information space: It takes a network to fight a network, and we have to encourage and assist other voices in this regard.
4. Just as we’ll be cultivating third parties in our messaging delivery efforts, we also need partners in the private sector. From Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue, we have a fountain of innovative thinkers in technology and marketing. When we talk about resources in this
context, money is important, but human talent is probably the most important resource and to bring that talent and unique skills on board can make a big difference.
5. World class analytics are now available to make sure we are successful in our messaging efforts and we are going to put them to work.
In a recent speech, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that “we live today in a global fish bowl” where “truth does battle with myths everywhere now, and competing myths fight one against the other…” He emphasized: “It is absolutely vital that the truth emerge and that facts be known, because otherwise, people just make stuff up and feed whatever propaganda they want.”
Da’esh is a new generation of non-state actor. It is innovative and opportunistic, and considers the information battlefield to be central to all that they do. Da’esh has demonstrated an ability to recruit and radicalize — both internal and foreign fighters —through social media and other networks. When Da’esh disseminates a poisonous narrative that buzzes in peoples’ pockets 24/7, they can essentially “crowdsource” terrorism.
There has been some great reporting in the Washington Post on Da’esh’s media operation that described it both as “the most potent propaganda machine ever assembled by a terrorist group” and as “a medieval reality show.”
Reports from defectors who have been interviewed reinforce the importance that Da’esh places on the information space. Media and military leaders are treated as equals, and both sides are directly involved in decision-making. Why, one could ask? Because as one defector put it, the media people “have the power to encourage those inside to fight and the power to bring more recruits to the Islamic State.”
We’ve seen that power in action, as thousands of foreign fighters from around the world – including Europeans and Americans – have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight. And now we have entered a new phase in Da’esh’s evolution, with its expansion through affiliates globally.
Yet another indication of the importance that Da’esh attaches to its media ops is the lengths to which it goes to still dissenting voices, especially those of the news media and courageous citizen journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted that last year 71 media workers were killed on duty and almost 200 were thrown into jail. The most dangerous country was Syria, which has remained at the top of the list for the last four years. The second most dangerous country for journalists last year – France.
Of those who were killed, 40 percent died at the hands of Islamic extremist groups such as Da’esh and al-Qa'ida. At least three were from the Syrian citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which was honored by the CPJ with its International Press Freedom Award in 2015.
Da’esh and other violent extremists use these killings to silence their critics and spread fear among journalists and others who dare to speak out against them, reveal their true nature, and discourage others from joining. They fear the message and so they kill the messenger.
As a government fighting an agile movement, we face disadvantages. We have to break out of our traditional bureaucratic stovepipes and be innovative and agile to address this threat.
As I noted earlier, part of what the new Global Engagement Center will do is focus more on empowering and enabling partners, both governmental and non-governmental, to speak out against groups that espouse violence using both traditional and social media.
The reality is that the U.S. government is perhaps not the most effective messenger to counter extremist messaging, and so we are seeking to work with credible voices across the region and within vulnerable communities. This “partners-first” approach is necessary to change the context and stimulate moderate voices to counter this extremist propaganda and expose Da’esh’s true nature. Moreover, it
contributes to and benefits from all our other efforts in the fight against Da’esh.
For example, when we provide humanitarian aid to civilians, when we deny Da’esh revenue from oil, when Kurdish forces make significant gains against Da’esh, all of that should and could be incorporated into our messaging efforts. And, effective, pro-active messaging can also drive those same operations. This is what I referred to earlier as the “Ops-Messaging” cycle.
It is important to think of our messaging efforts in that holistic manner; it cannot be just an after-thought. It needs to be baked into everything we do from the beginning. Old hands from the former U.S. Information Agency [folded into State in 1999] are fond of quoting USIA’s first director, Edward R. Murrow who, when tasked with dealing with the public affairs aftermath of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, famously said, "If they want me in on the crash landings, I better damn well be in on the take-offs."
My goal is to build on the cooperation that already exists between State and other elements of the U.S. government as well as with our Coalition allies. As I mentioned before, we are also seeking out partners with the most credible voices to assist in our messaging delivery efforts. And as I also noted, we are reaching out to the private sector, both in the U.S. and abroad, to tap into the latest research and innovative thinking in marketing and technology.
This is a long-term campaign, and we’ll continue to see ups and downs. But, if we work innovatively across the Government, if we leverage our allies, local partners, and the private sector, and if we continue outreach to communities, I believe we can effectively stem Da’esh’s extremist propaganda.
Furthermore, I believe that discrediting Da’esh’s narrative over time will break their brand. That, in fact, was a major strategy in winning the Cold War. At the end of the day, no one believed the messages coming out of the Soviet Union and other communist nations, because they simply did not match reality. The U.S. role was to help fill in the information gap between what the Soviets said and what they did, and make sure others were aware of it, including their own people.
1991 marked not just the end of the Cold War era, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but also the beginning of what was to become a dramatic expansion of the use of the internet. In 1991, the World Wide Web, invented just a few years earlier, was first introduced as a publicly available service.
Now -- thanks to the internet and the web, the growth of personal computing and its miniaturization, the rise of cellphones and the tectonic technological forces which mashed them all together into the smartphone -- the challenges we face in the information space are very different from a quarter century ago.
However, while the means we use may be different from those employed in the Cold War era, I believe we will arrive at the same end state for Da’esh and other violent extremist groups if we can stem their propaganda, discredit their narratives, and break their brand.
As I noted earlier, violent extremism is our most chronic and agile global threat. It is also a long-term challenge. The defeat of Da’esh -- and we will defeat them -- will not mean an end to violent extremism, nor will it mean the elimination of terrorism as a tactic. Our struggle against those who espouse violent ways of achieving their strategic ends will continue, and we will continue to have to use public
diplomacy, including messaging, as one of our tools of national power in that struggle.
Finally, I mentioned in the beginning of this talk that our response to Da’esh’s propaganda has been under resourced. Now I know that I’m standing on the Senate side of the Hill, but let me take a moment to point out that the oldest committee of the United States Congress is the House Committee on Ways and Means. And it was established first for a reason -- you need to have the “means,” or resources, to achieve your “ends.”
And right now our means are lacking. Last year, the budget for State Department efforts to counter extremist propaganda was less than $10 million, annually. And yet at the same time—in countries other than Iraq and Afghanistan—the U.S Government is spending hundreds of millions annually in support of counter-terrorism operations.
As a career U.S. Navy SEAL and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict at the Pentagon, I’ve worked at the pointy-end of the spear and know as well as anyone how important kinetic operations are to keeping Americans and our partners and allies safe. I fully Support them. But, we also have to make smart decisions about how we use resources. Ultimately, any long- term strategy to counter violent extremism cannot focus solely on killing terrorists; it also has to focus on preventing the recruitment of new ones.
Revealing the true nature of Da’esh is just one part of our strategy to counter violent extremism, which will ultimately stem its recruiting efforts, but it’s an important part. And, quite frankly, it’s the piece that needs better direction and more resources. As the new Coordinator for the Global Engagement Center, I am going to do my part to adapt and lead our efforts in the right direction.
With that, I’d like to thank you for your time and attention. If there are any questions from Commission members or the audience, I’d be happy to try and answer them.
Sim Farar: Thank you Michael.
Penne Peacock, Member: Thank you for your service both in and out of the government. It certainly is very impressive and we thank you. My question comes from your military experience. You said we needed to be innovative and agile, which I understand. What you have not mentioned is, what your opinion would be for boots on the ground. Do we need more? Do we need none? If they come, what do you see them doing preventing other things happening, because as you say we can’t just kill terrorists.
Michael Lumpkin: The policy decision of whether we should have…I assume you’re talking about Syria in particular…I think that in my current role, what I need to focus on is strictly the messaging piece to make sure we’re doing that piece of it. What the Department of Defense has to do to realize that the entire policy of stabilizing the region of Syria and Iraq in conjunction with the defeating Da’esh on the battlefield. I’m going to let them take care of that piece of it right now. This is what I’m truly focused on. Again, it is so crucial.
As a guy who spent my whole life doing kinetic operations, I say this jokingly within our lifelines [organization], I don’t know how many times we’ve killed al-Qaeda’s number five in the leadership. They will make new ones. We truly have to stem the recruiting piece and that’s why to me the more we focus on this fight now, the less our sons and daughters are dealing with this chronic problem 25, 30 or 40 years from now.
Anne Wedner, Member: Mike, also thank you so much for being with us today and for your presentation. One thing that has sort of frustrated me in my looking at our public diplomacy efforts and how we conduct them and how they have reverberated through our domestic politics right now is our own inability to understand the audiences that we’re talking to because we’re so specific and clear about our goals and we don’t really have a lot of empathy or knowledge about their situation. In your process, do you have a way of integrating audience understanding in sort of a marketing sense? I know people don’t like to use those terms in government stuff but I think it absolutely applies so have you thought about, or how are you structured to be able to address this to truly understand?
Michael Lumpkin: That’s a great point. Great question. Going back to before I even joined the military, I studied anthropology. I have a degree in anthropology so I tell people I’m a recovering anthropologist. I look at everything through a cultural lens and what we have to make sure and again, I think this is the strength of going with partners…I have the cultural awareness in my lifelines [the Global Engagement Center] of native Arabic speakers, people from the respective regions…but going back to Tip O’Neill’s saying -- all politics is local. What we have to do is make sure we’re hitting those local audiences with local voices looking through a local lens. And again, I think that’s the strength of going into a partner-centric approach and breaking down our partners all the way from non-governmental organizations to other nation states as well as communities all the way down to religious leaders who have a message that resonates that we feel very comfortable partnering with. I think that’s the methodology.
That said, what we have to do is bring in world class analytics to do this. I’ll be very candid with you -- we don’t have that now. The analytic rigor has not been put against it -- not for lack of trying because we have a lot of smart people working the issues -- but we haven’t had the resources because analytic tools cost money. You have to have the information technology, the IT backbone to support them, and you have to have people who are trained to use them. What we’re doing is building an analytics team. We’re not going to get every message right. I’m okay with trying, failing quickly, learning and then moving on. You’re going to do that by getting real number analytics as well as analysis layered to make sure we can get a real view of how to do this. We’re building it, we’re not there. It's just been over a month and I don’t have it built yet. Yes, Ma’am.
Lezlee Westine, Member: I have a little more tactical question. I love your comments about how we’re going to make them partners. I’m actually from the private sector and when you were mentioning high tech and marketing, I get all excited. What is the mechanism to get into? Are you going to have work with associations, are you going to work with individual companies? How can we mobilize our network to help you?
Michael Lumpkin: Great question. This is frankly one of those things that government has not been very good at as an entity, it’s just not. Bureaucracy is not a bad thing, because it takes routine tasks and standardizes them so people know what they’re going to get, but you can’t bake in agility and innovation into the process and this is why I want to have this habitual relationship with the private sector which historically is much more agile than the government. Our intent in the Executive Order is to get a hiring authority that allows me to bring in patriotic Americans who are in the tech industry or marketing industry and bring them in on a temporary basis, leverage their skills, get their latest knowledge, import it while we are taking our workforce and pushing them out to get training and then build the backbone that will support that kind of innovation. It’s not something that’s normally associated with the State Department but I will tell you…we have the support of the Secretary of State and of the administration to do just this because everybody understands how important this really is. Moving and changing for the better is not without pain, but as I tell people, resistance is futile. We’ll get there. Yes, Sir.
Audience Member: One of the things that we noticed in the past, is the message is being received in the Middle East more as a propaganda where the messages are accepted only from the people that we actually consider friends anyway but the other side always says this is what the administration or the west is trying to send to you. How can we guarantee this time that these messages will not be received as propaganda and these are the same people that are actually being radicalized in the Middle East?
Michael Lumpkin: I think it goes back to my point that we’re not always the best messenger for our message. The one thing we do when we send out a message from the Department of State --it says Department of State on it. By definition, it's a US government message. And again, if we can help our partners tell the story -- the message that we want to go out -- and we were to amplify their messaging efforts, I think it's a fundamentally different way of looking at the problems. But we’re going to have to use those analytics to see if we’re actually hitting those target audiences we want to hit. You have two different messaging mechanisms. You have what I call “meat cleaver” messaging, which are the dramatic campaigns and themes, and then you have very targeted, individual messages for those that are on the pathway to radicalization. You have to understand the pathway to radicalization and those times when you can insert yourself in a messaging vehicle to make sure that they see alternatives to what they’re hearing from our adversaries. I think you do that through analytic tools and you do that from audience research but first you have to know who the audience is you’re trying to hit. Yes Ma’am.
Audience Member: Can you revisit a little bit more about what you hope to happen with this executive order and temporary hiring authority and how would that impact things like national security clearance? Secondly, when you talk about partnering with other groups, NGOs, nation states, are you talking about people in the Middle East, are you talking about Europe, are you talking about Asia?
Michael Lumpkin: The first piece -- I’m not a security clearance person in the sense that I don’t do them, but I’m told that there are expedited mechanisms for those who will require national security clearances. The second piece of your question?
Audience Member: Can you explain a little bit more about how this partnering happens? Does it happen through US aid grants, does it happen through capacity building?
Michael Lumpkin: Yes. We look at the tools that we have and we build partners and we network partners. I’ve had people come and ask me “who are your partners specifically?” If I tell people who all my partners are then everybody knows they’re carrying our message. I’m not going to go into all the details of who the partners are, but we’ll use different vehicles of grants and coalitions-of-the-willing to build partners. There are some amazing networks out there already, some of them we just have to reach out to. There are tremendous tools that already exist and so we need to leverage them.
Audience Member: [Re: the relationship with VOA]
Michael Lumpkin: They are disseminated by multimedia. Social media is just one piece. We have a very good relationship with the folks at BBG and Voice of America and work together on synchronization. Again, we are just one piece of the US government-messaging apple so we work very well together. I’m very comfortable with whether it's Voice of America or BBG or other folks that are out there working those efforts alongside us.
Audience Member: [Question inaudible]
Lyndon Olson: Ma’am, I apologize. We can’t hear you. Would you guys identify yourself, where you’re from and just speak as loudly as you can?
Audience Member: One of the things that we found is that some Boko Haram militants have actually dropped arms in exchange for food so thinking back on what the gentleman was talking about as far as engaging in local partners, whether it's radio stations and so on, obviously you’re new to office but whether that’s part of your thinking as far as engaging local partners…getting those folks who are on the edge but not quite.
Michael Lumpkin: I think the answer depends, and this is why. I’m not in the humanitarian business and right now it's about the best that it can be so clearly again, I’ve met with people working this issue in Nigeria already and we do have very good partnerships in that area where we’re working on investing to stem the recruiting and in order to provide alternatives. The answer to the question is yes but the answer to the humanitarian…this is clearly somebody else’s. We can help knit it together but the action of exchanging guns is not something we would do ourselves. Yes, Sr.
Mike Anderson: Mike Anderson, retired Foreign Service officer. I read somewhere I believe that there are two international centers that are cooperating or linked to a department with your center and I think one is in Malaysia and I can’t remember where the other one is. Could you talk about those two centers and what their role will be?
Michael Lumpkin: There’s actually one center right now and that is called the Sawab Center in the United Arab Emirates, and we are working with our partners in Malaysia to help them build a center…something similar. Again, this is an affiliation. It’s not our center there. It's literally their center and we’re helping them build infrastructure because they recognize that they have their piece and have to go do this. We will work with them so they know what we’re doing, we know what they’re doing and working together to make sure our messages work in conjunction with each other. We’re working through the regional bureaus for this in the State Department so we’re very well matched up as we move forward. We look for other opportunities for other centers globally because there is a coalition fighting Da’esh and we need to leverage all of that with the coalition whether it's the French, the Brits or anybody else out there to make sure we’re rowing the same boat and rowing in the same direction. Yes, Ma’am.
Audience Member: I was very interested when you were talking about the counter-messaging baked in to everything you do and how you approach it. … I assume we’re not there yet but how do you envision really working with the military side? I’m thinking of the cover of the Washington Post this morning and the drone strike in Somalia. So the bad guys are gone and that’s a good thing but there’s going to be a lot of death and destruction on the ground and they’re probably pissed off because we have people there. How do we integrate that, how do we follow that up with this counter-messaging? What else can we do against Al-Shabaab because if we’re just going in, doing a strike and the leave for a year or don’t do anything else, that’s a one off. How does that work together?
Michael Lumpkin: I think that we need to look at, first of all, when there’s an operation like that you have different components of it. Within the actual operations of the Department of Defense, we can work an information operations campaign which is part of the operation; and what we haven’t done as well as we could have has been synchronizing and working the whole U.S. government messaging effort to make sure that they work together. I see my role to synchronize, coordinate and integrate the US government’s efforts and we’ll see what comes out ultimately in the Executive Order. The CSCC’s mission was to inform and orient, which is different. Until told otherwise, I’m synchronizing, coordinating and integrating the US government messaging effort internationally when it comes to GEC. When something happens like most recently you read about, we’re not finding out after the fact. I will tell you that I have detailees in my offices from CENTCOM, from different organized military combatant commands, so we’re fully on what’s going to happen militarily prior to that happening. That gives us a chance to actually build thematic campaigns to support it. I think even in the past 50 days since the Center was created, this team has made huge strides. The interagency has welcomed GEC’s involvement and execution of our missions, like I explained. We’ve got a lot more work to do but I think we’ve come a long way. Yes, Sir.
Audience Member: What is your funding like now in the State Department? How much do you have in funding from partner organizations and how much funding would you realistically like?
Michael Lumpkin: Wow, you’re going to make me go there, aren’t you? I’ll tell you what, I think my funding was $9.6 million last year, Fiscal Year ’15. Right now my current line…I’m actually adjusting a little bit because as an Assistant Secretary for Special Operations I oversaw $10.6 billion dollars and then about three [billion] and change from different funds, and now I’m looking at where every penny literally matters. I think this year I’m looking at about $15.8 million, that’s what I’m at now, and our expectation is that I’m asking for more. But what I have to be able to do is execute that, which means in a tight timeline because we’re halfway through the fiscal year. I have some things I have to work through infrastructure-wise, and once I get the approvals for the infrastructure I will have a demand signal for more resources. I can see the resource requirments going up significantly in ’17, ’18, ’19 -- and of course the enemy gets a vote depending on how they metastasize, if they continue to metastasize. And [it depends on] the amount of partners that we can find to work with. Part of it is that we don’t always have the ability to do all of the content, so sometimes we may contract that out with the help of our partners and get the content that we need to deliver the message that needs to be delivered. We’re developing our ’17 and ’18 budgets right now and I can’t get ahead of the budget cycle, but they are significantly higher than ’15.
Lyndon Olson, Member: Michael, before we take the next question, I want to ask you a question. Where is the bottleneck here? What are the political realities? I remember one of the first things in the George W. Bush administration relative to this messaging that occurred was Karen Hughes. In the news cycle for a week was she’s got to leave, and she’s so close to Bush and she’s going to the State Department. Eventually she became, I guess the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy. We were going to hire all of these Wall Street, New York, Madison Avenue PR firms worldwide globally. It was kind of a religious experience that we were going to do all this and that’s been 15 years ago. To me, it is intuitive that we…it seems like that our government should think that this is as important as boots on the ground and yet we’re sitting here 15 years later having a discussion that to me is infantile. Not with you, but that we’re even having this discussion that we don’t know that this should be a priority…a big priority, not a nine million dollar priority. Where are the voices for this? Does DoD have their own whatever, does the intelligence community have their own whatever, is there jealous within the system and that’s why you are where you are? What is the resistance to a very significant messaging and if it exists, where is the political will? We will appropriate billions of dollars to kill people but we won’t appropriate jack for this.
Michael Lumpkin: I can’t go back and talk about Karen Hughes…
Lyndon Olson, Member: The point was we’ve been talking about this for 15 years.
Michael Lumpkin: Quite frankly, when asked, that was one of the reasons I accepted this job because I clearly recognize, like you do and most people in the audience here, this is something we need to pay attention to. It is central to how we’re going to fight this adversary and how we’re going to ultimately break them and stem violent extremism over time. I think again, it’s been under-resourced. My guess is when USIA went away, the thought process…
Lyndon Olson, Member: Went away into State.
Michael Lumpkin: …when it disappeared as an entity unto itself and was absorbed, some of the gravitas was lost of what it did and then it became under-resourced. I will tell you the Department of Defense Information Operations are much better resourced than the Department of State’s have been to date with the CSCC, and again, the predecessors who led CSCC did amazing work with what they had to work with. Unfortunately, the system did not give them a lot to work with. I think you will see, in future budget submissions to the Hill, an increase as it is realized that we’re catching up operationally and that we understand cognitively that the information space is as important, if not more important, than the physical battlespace. I don’t think you had that appreciation before. We may have talked the talk but it didn’t feel like we had the resources.
The other piece is that State…my personal opinion… hasn’t had an authorization act in what…13 years? Thirteen years. The Defense Committee missed their mark of getting an authorization act so there’s been no legislation to drive that specifically targeted this each year, so I would welcome the Congress to do an authorization act to help the State Department and help the U.S. government and recognize the import of the messaging and information space. If you haven’t had one in 13 years that’s kind of where you’re living…13 years ago.
Audience Member: We’ve heard a lot today about civil society needing leaders in the private sector but does the Global Engagement Center work at all with civilian security services and what role do you see for police in counter-messaging?
Michael Lumpkin: Currently we have some that we work with but not where I’d like to see it. We’re going to have to spend some effort on building partnerships to expand our network. One of the first things I did when I got there was to reorganize the CSCC enterprise and basically I’ve got a Chief Partnership Officer, now I’ve got a Chief Content Officer, I’ve got a Chief Analytics Scientist to do the analytics piece, and now I have somebody focused solely on the partnership piece in conjunction with all of those other things, so we can work much more diligently on building our partner network. When the Executive Order comes out and I get that hiring authority, I can bring very seasoned people from the private sector and their networks of partners to work with, so we have some work to do there.
Audience Member: The White House also recently announced that the Bureau of Counterterrorism will now become the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism and with that their budget is already much larger. How are you coordinating your missions considering you have similar ones and how will you coordinate your budgets so you’re not duplicating efforts?
Michael Lumpkin: The Global Engagement Center is an interagency effort that happens to be housed at the State Department, whereas the CT Bureau exists as an entity within State. It did take Congress to give them the money to work the issue and to grow their capabilities, so it's that partnership with the Congress that got them to where they need to be
Audience Member: My question involves the credibility of our partners and how to protect them. If we are tapping people overseas to bring out the message and we do things like retweeting them, aren’t we then essentially destroying their credibility? How do we protect that?
Michael Lumpkin: I am retweeting things of substance that are from partners now and I’ll continue to do so. Just because I tweet something or resend it out and put it on our Facebook, it means it resonates but not necessarily that it was done by partners. I think that to say that we would only do our historic partners is not a true statement. I think how we protect our partners frankly is I’m not going to sit here and tell you who my partners are and that’s the way we do it. I’m happy to talk about the methodology and about how we will build our partnerships and our networks but not to sit here and tell everybody who our NGO partners are, especially when you think about the journalist issue earlier, about what can happen to people who are outspoken against the enemy, because we have to do everything in our power to protect them and the freedom of speech. Yes, Sir.
Audience Member: This campaign will not end on January 20th next year. You say you’re planning for ’17, ’18,’19. How will you build in continuity into your team as far as the next administration and leadership?
Michael Lumpkin: I have a lot of experience doing this at the Department of Defense. Wars don’t stop just because Presidents change and it's going to be the same with the Global Engagement Center. We are going to build our budgets. I see myself as the person building the road and ultimately my successor, whether immediate or down the road, will be the person to drive down that road. We are building things to be sustainable and not end on January 19th. As a political appointee, I may get my pink slip then but there are people who are very capable who will pick up the torch and continue. Last week or two weeks ago, I gave a speech at the Global Special Operations Foundation Symposium and because I’m still technically the Assistant Secretary of DoD, that was the audience that I was talking to -- international special operators. I spent the first half of my speech talking about my job as ASD and the second half of my speech was about the Global Engagement Center. Then I took questions for about an hour. I did not get one question about my role as Assistant Secretary of Special Operations. Every question I got was about the Global Engagement Center and messaging and it was because everybody recognized how important it is and they understand if we don’t get this right, the next 15, 20 years we’re going to be doing kinetic operations globally and that’s insane. Guys 15, 16 years at war…they know this is the fight and this is the reason why I’m here and the roadmap will be built so the road will not end on January 19th of next year.
Mike Anderson: Mike Anderson again. As you project your personnel needs, where do you see traditional public diplomacy officers and offices within State fitting in vis-a-vis personnel from other agencies of DoD and the private sector? Are you relying on existing personnel and drawing them in or are you virtually creating a new organization with fresh, new people and bringing them in?
Michael Lumpkin: I am bringing people from the outside, as I mentioned. I’ve also got folks detailed that are coming from different agencies. I have people from the intelligence community, I have people from the defense community. I do have PD officers, public diplomacy officers within our lifelines [the Center]. I do have access to them and I work for the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy. We also have career civil servants. It truly is a mixture of the best coming together. Everybody gives a little, everybody takes a little and I think it's a very, very powerful team because of the broad spectrum of capabilities that exists within the enterprise. We also have the mixed approach of public diplomacy and we have a very, very good habitual relationship with them to make sure that we’re in step at every step down the road. I think we’ve got a really, really good team. We’re going to flesh it out more with outside efforts and I think that will be the right secret sauce.
Lyndon Olson, Vice Chairman: I think we’re out of time for questions. I’ve been doing this for a few years now as a Commissioner and I’ll tell you, this has probably been one of the most informative speeches and dialogue we’ve ever had here. I want to thank Michael Lumpkin for being here. Let’s give him a nice round of applause.
Sim Farar, Chairman: I want to thank you all for coming very, very much. We’re always very grateful for BBG and Public Diplomacy leadership to be present at these meetings and all of you in the audience with your participation. I’m sorry we couldn’t handle all the questions today but we’ll be back. The Commission is expecting a very busy 2016. We will release the 2016 version of the Comprehensive Annual Report, as I mentioned before, on Public Diplomacy and Broadcasting later on this year about September 21st. We also will release a white paper on reimaging Public Diplomacy’s organizational infrastructure at the State Department soon. We’re also continuing to focus much of our efforts on improving the capacity of research and evaluation of public diplomacy and broadcasting activities at the State Department and the BBG. Our next public meeting will be on May 12th on a topic to be determined. We remain open to convening discussions and completing analysis on topics that may be of importance to all of you here so please stay in touch with us. We look forward to seeing you again at the next public meeting in May and thank you very, very much for coming…all of you. Thank you.