State department comes to Air War College

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Seventeen members of the state department's Foreign Service visited Air War College Oct. 28 to 30 as part of the school's annual International Security Studies course for National Security Decision-Making.

The three-day exchange between the state department and the defense department started in 2004 to allow AWC students to interact with Foreign Service officers to gain perspective on interagency cooperation.

"The program is of great benefit to AWC students who learn about the state department, diplomacy and public diplomacy, and to state department participants who learn about the military," said Dr. Steve Burgess, AWC Department of International Security.

Participants from the state department "were recruited for their expertise in foreign policy and in reconstruction and development," said Dr. Evelyn A. Early, Air University senior state department adviser. "Most of them served several tours overseas in embassies all over the world and at least one tour in the Washington bureaucracy." In her liaison role, Dr. Early provides recommendations and advice to the AU commander and his staff on matters pertaining to foreign policy as it relates to AU curriculum.

The week consisted of lectures and seminar discussions regarding the instruments of national power and their role in national security.

"[The course] provides the context of the environment and processes in which national security decisions are made ... and highlights the roles and relationships of key actors," said Col. Christian Shippey, chairman of the AWC International Security Studies department.

Applying diplomatic and military instruments of power to global situations is something these key actors agree is crucial to national security and exchange programs like the one at AWC allows an advance in interagency understanding.

"It was striking how many misperceptions exist about the state department and our role in [Iraq] activities," said one Foreign Service officer. "Of course we have the same misperception. It was also interesting to note the disconnect between our strategic planning processes and the lack of coordination between the [state department and the defense department]. I was very impressed with the program. It gives me great confidence in the future leaders of the military."

"The students sought to understand how embassies and desk officers at Foggy Bottom carried out their diplomatic functions," said Chris Keast, a faculty member with AWC.

The highlight of the week was a visit by Ambassador Christopher Hill, best known for his role in leading the six-party talks with North Korea.

"This was the best [state department days] yet due to the quality of the participants and the visit by Ambassador Hill," Dr. Burgess said.