Political-Military Affairs: Smart Power Starts Here

Andrew J. Shapiro
Assistant Secretary, Political-Military Affairs
Keynote Address to ComDef 2009
Washington, DC
September 9, 2009

As Prepared

Good morning, and thank you to the organizers of ComDef 2009 for this opportunity to talk to you about smart power, and how it will shape our priorities in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. As Secretary Clinton is fond of saying, “smart power depends on smart people.” Looking around the room, it appears I’m in the right place.

From 2001-2009, I had the honor of serving on then-Senator Clinton’s staff as her primary foreign affairs and defense policy advisor. In that capacity, I was her primary liaison to the Senate Armed Services Committee, working closely with Pentagon officials and America’s men and women in uniform at home and abroad. From this experience, I bring to my new post the unshakable conviction that a robust partnership among the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and industry is critical if we are to address the serious international challenges that our nation -- our world -- faces today.

That brings us to the theme of this year’s conference which is also serving as the venue for my first public speech as Assistant Secretary. The concept of “smart power” -- the intelligent integration and networking of diplomacy, defense, development, and other tools of so-called “hard” and “soft” power -- is at the very heart of President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s foreign policy vision.

Since its establishment in 1969, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs -- or PM as it is known around the State Department -- has served as the State Department’s primary link with the Department of Defense. Its unique mix of nearly 300 Foreign Service officers, Civil Service officers, contractors and uniformed military personnel makes it a workplace like no other in the State Department. Indeed, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is uniquely positioned to bring together the capacity and capabilities of the State Department and the Defense Department along with innovation of industry and the private sector to support our friends and allies and, ultimately, the Administration’s foreign policy goals. Given the importance of this partnership, discussing smart power before this audience is an ideal forum for my first public speech as Assistant Secretary.

Smart Power is more than just a catchphrase. It will be the driving force behind our foreign policy in the years ahead. Put into practice, smart power will act as a force multiplier, encouraging the development of new partnerships both overseas and within our own government. The President is dedicated to this idea. Secretary Clinton is dedicated to it. Secretary Gates himself has been a forceful advocate of better integrating our military power with diplomacy and development in a “whole of government” approach to enhancing our national security.

As Secretary Clinton said in her confirmation hearing, “With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.” But she emphasized, that in order to do so, “we need to invest in our civilian capacity to conduct vigorous American diplomacy…and operate effectively alongside our military.”

Indeed, smart power is central to reinvigorating America’s bedrock alliances while reaching out to new partners as we work to confront shared international challenges bigger than any one country. Secretary Clinton has referred to the three pillars of our national security: defense, diplomacy and development and has noted that the State Department and USAID are responsible for diplomacy and development. However, only through the effective integration of all the tools of national power can we hope to achieve our broader objectives of security and prosperity.

Secretary Clinton is institutionalizing smart power in the recently announced Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the QDDR, a blueprint for building effective global leadership through a robust and effective State Department and USAID working side-by-side with a strong military.

As Secretary Clinton has said, smart power is also rooted in the idea that no single nation can meet the world’s problems alone, but that American leadership can play a key role in convening, connecting, and creating new partnership networks to confront shared security challenges. For example, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is playing such a role in coordinating both U.S. Government and international efforts to confront piracy in the Horn of Africa -- a regional security problem with truly global implications for maritime safety, commercial shipping, and humanitarian aid deliveries.

The Bureau has responded to Secretary Clinton’s call for “a 21st century solution to the 17th century problem” of piracy by leading the State Department’s efforts to conceive and organize the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, an ad hoc diplomatic grouping of nearly 40 nations and international organizations that is coordinating international naval patrols and shipping self-protection, as well as efforts to encourage prosecutions of suspected pirates, discourage the payment of ransoms, and build the capacity and political will of countries affected by piracy to interdict and prosecute these maritime criminals. The Contact Group is convening its fourth plenary session tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York, where they will continue their joint effort to take action against pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa.

Counter-piracy is a perfect example of how through smart power, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs can serve as a crucial node in networking diplomatic engagement and military strength to partner with a broad range of nations to combat a significant threat to international peace and prosperity.

I am also pleased to announce that later this afternoon; the U.S. Government will be signing the “New York Declaration,” a non-binding political document committing ship registry states to promulgate internationally recognized best management practices for protection of ships against piracy. Initially presented by the world’s four largest ship registry states in terms of shipping tonnage -- Panama, the Bahamas, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands -- at the Contact Group’s May 2009 plenary sessions, several other countries, including the United States, are now formally committing to implement these best management practices; something the U.S. shipping industry has already been doing through compliance with U.S. Coast Guard directives on ship security.

In short, smart power will shape how we -- the Department of State, the Department of Defense and industry -- work together in the coming years as surely as it will define my policy priorities, a few of which I’d like to share with you now.

As I described in my confirmation testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among my top priorities as Assistant Secretary are defense trade issues. The sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services is an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives and thus is an important element of smart power. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Directorate of Defense Trade Controls -- known as DDTC -- is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List -- known as the USML. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, through its Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers -- known as RSAT -- also manages the Foreign Military Sales -- or FMS -- process. By implementing the Secretary of State’s authority to authorize all U.S. arms sales, the Bureau plays a leading role in enhancing regional security and bilateral defense relations. One of my top priorities is to insure that the Secretary’s authority is implemented efficiently, transparently and in keeping with U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Last year, State approved tens of billions of dollars in government-to-government arms sales under RSAT’s FMS program, while DDTC licensed over $100 billion in direct commercial sales of defense articles and services. This year, we expect to see a comparable volume of commercial sales and a slight decrease in FMS.

What does smart power mean to you? Consider this: FMS and direct commercial sales both represent an important avenue by which we can leverage American industry’s powerful appeal and innovative capacity to further America’s vital security interests and those of our international partners. They both represent yet another important tool for broadening and deepening our partnerships with emerging powers such as India, as well as strengthening long-time security ties with steadfast friends and allies.

The successful conclusion of the U.S.-India end-use monitoring agreement during Secretary Clinton’s visit this summer represents a good start for the Obama Administration’s efforts to support sales of U.S. defense technologies to our partners abroad. Clearly we will also continue to have robust defense trade relationships in the Middle East. The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security remains unshakeable and I am looking forward to maintaining that deep strategic partnership. We also expect that the strong defense trade relationships with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will continue.

These partnerships -- new and old alike -- are essential to capacity building efforts to address shared security concerns, and are thus an essential component of Secretary Clinton’s vision of a smart power foreign policy.

So far this year, we have approved billions more in Foreign Military Sales and continue to make significant progress in streamlining our decision-making processes. In addition to regularizing our coordination with Congressional staff, we are preparing to initiate electronic reforms. These efforts will further enhance the U.S. Government’s responsiveness for its FMS customers, while even more effectively ensuring that arms sales remain consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.

I am also happy to report that we are making significant strides in the administration of defense trade, which I know has been a focus of our industry partners over the years. In 2006, DDTC adjudicated just over 70,000 cases in the entire year -- with an average processing time of 43 days. In the past eight months, DDTC staff have already acted on nearly 60,000 license applications -- and the processing time for each now averages just over two weeks. While we are proud of this improvement, it does not mean we will become complacent. I am committed to ensuring that we continue to be as efficient and transparent as possible in reviewing and processing export license applications.

A similar effort is now being made in the review of Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) requests. One of the first actions of the new Administration was to streamline CJ adjudication procedures. I now meet with my counterparts at DoD, Commerce, and the National Security Council on a weekly basis to review and resolve outstanding CJ cases. DDTC is building on this process by developing new implementation procedures, including the use of new submission criteria and electronic staffing and adjudication processes that should cut determination time in half by the end of the year.

While we are very pleased with these ongoing improvements within the current defense trade system, the State Department will also be deeply involved in President Obama’s export control review, a longer-term effort to retool a 50-year old dual-use and munitions list system to meet the new realities of today’s complex security environment.

While past efforts at reform have frequently fallen short, we now have a technologically savvy President and Administration who want to see reform, including senior-level officials such as Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates -- himself a member of the influential National Academies-sponsored study on export control reform before he became Defense Secretary, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, and Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher. Despite this auspicious alignment, I have no illusions about the challenges ahead.

The review is, above all, an effort to improve national security. Ultimately, U.S. companies will benefit from an improved export control system, but first, we must work together -- the Administration, Congress, and industry -- to identify relevant technologies and to determine how best to protect them in the 21st Century.

Finally, I would like to give you a brief update on the U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia Defense Cooperation Treaties -- a priority for the Obama Administration. These are a critical element of my defense trade agenda. I am fully engaged with key Members and Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff in seeking a way forward and I’m working to address their concerns about implementing legislation, which the Administration believes is unnecessary. As former Senate staffer, I’m particularly appreciative of the important role that the legislative branch plays in our foreign policy, and I will continue to work closely with Committee staff on a way forward on these treaties.

Another priority for me as Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs will be to refresh, re-evaluate and expand the Bureau’s $6 billion suite of security assistance programs. From grants that help our partners abroad purchase needed military equipment and attend U.S. military training institutions to our successful initiative to train and equip more than 81,000 international peacekeepers, helping partner countries develop strong, legitimate, and sustainable security sector institutions joins defense trade as critical to our own long term security goals as a nation.

Finally, another major priority will be to further strengthen and expand the Bureau, doing my part to honor Secretary’s Clinton’s pledge to renew American leadership through diplomacy by bringing an even more robust civilian partner to the table in meeting today’s security challenges, whether they be failed states, weapons proliferation, or piracy.

Both Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates have expressed a firm commitment to a State-Defense relationship that is complementary, not competitive. Just over six months into the Obama Administration, former government officials have remarked that they have never seen such a close working relationship between State and DoD. Ensuring the day-to-day effectiveness of this partnership, as envisioned by Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates, will be among my top priorities.

The PM Bureau provides diplomatic support to military operations and planning -- such as our efforts to negotiate basing and transit agreements, reviewing major military exercises to ensure consistency with our foreign policy goals, and coordinating State’s input to the Quadrennial Defense Review. We work closely with DoD and other U.S. government agencies to expand our understanding of and capability to be effective in counterinsurgency planning and operations around the world. While smart power is reflected in a wide range of PM programs, from defense trade and security assistance to landmine clearance and small arms destruction, perhaps no other PM initiative embodies the concept of smart power -- and of the State Department’s commitment to working cooperatively and effectively with DoD -- than our Foreign Policy Advisors -- or POLAD’s -- an expanding cadre of experienced Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel embedded with U.S. military service chiefs and combatant commanders worldwide.

I hope you and your companies will join us in this important endeavor of fundamentally rethinking our approach to U.S. foreign policy and invite you to share your many good ideas so that the Administration and the nation can benefit from your experience and expertise as we move forward. Together, we can realize what Secretary Clinton calls “a new architecture of cooperation” through smart power. Thank you.