Archive for the 'Soft Power' Tag

2nd of a 3-part series

USNI Blog continues its talk with Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, USAF.

Operation Southern PArtner Group Photo

Operation Southern Partner Group Photo

Q: What is the Air Force’s relationship with the U.S. Public Health Service and NGO’s like Operation Smile and Project Hope?

Seip: AFSOUTH has a strong relationship with the US Public Health Service and with non-governmental organizations such as Project Hope. Last year, Air Force medical technicians accomplished more than 30 medical engagements across the region, partnering with a number of non-governmental organizations, local Ministries of Health and USPHS.

This year, we’re unveiling even more of these initiatives during medical engagements in Peru – the first-ever “RIVERINE” medical deployment – and Guyana during New Horizons 09. We’re also partnering with University of Arizona Medical School to ensure our missions have lasting and measurable impacts on local populations by tracking progress over several years and sharing medical studies with local health organizations.

In addition, our team will often transport donated school supplies and medical equipment on board USAF aircraft to ensure clinics and schools are outfitted with much-needed items (in accordance with applicable US law and DoD regulations). Working together with NGOs we’re ensuring our projects aren’t simply a hollow building – from day one they’re ready to support the community with all of the equipment and supplies needed to operate.

It’s very exciting to see how this cooperation between the public, private sector and military is taking shape – Col Scott Van Valkenburg, the AFSOUTH command surgeon, is pushing to include more of these NGOs and State Department organizations in our missions. The rationale is simple: together our efforts can have a profound, positive effect on the citizens we treat during our medical missions – it makes sense to partner with these organizations.

Q: What is the role of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard in Soft Power?

Seip: The Total Force is already deeply involved. A large percentage of the Airmen who participate in our nation’s Soft Power missions are from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Many of the Airmen on board the USNS Comfort were from the National Guard and Air Force Reserves, 50% of the aircraft and personnel participating in the NEWEN exercise were from Reserve units and dozens of the medical deployments in our area of focus are conducted by Guard and Reserve Airmen.

These professionals provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to enhance our team and benefit every operation – and their role is growing. A recent example is the signing of the State Partnership Program agreement between the Texas National Guard and the Chilean military. The ceremony will take place in April, opening the door for increased cooperation between Guard units in Texas and the Chilean military during exercises, exchanges, humanitarian response and training events. State National Guard Bureaus have had a long history of Soft Power initiatives with more than 20 agreements in the State Partnership Program in the USSOUTHCOM area of focus alone.

There’s even a full time Guard Colonel and Reserve Colonel on our staff to help us ensure we fully integrate these forces into our plans. Our command is so integrated with the Total Force that it’s not even a consideration – Airmen and equipment come from Active Duty, Guard and Reserve units on virtually every mission – I don’t even ask where a person comes from because, in my assessment, they’re all equally skilled and part of the team. The Total Force keeps achieving the AFSOUTH mission as the top priority.

Q: Is there a role for the Civil Air Patrol in soft power?

Seip: Sure. The Civil Air Patrol is a unique organization that shares a great synergy with Airmen. During domestic disaster response efforts, they’ve played a major role within the United States and I foresee they’ll likely expand these efforts. Many Americans are unaware of CAP’s heroic assistance to our nation during natural disasters, combating the flow of illicit drugs and securing our borders in cooperation with military and law enforcement organizations. The CAP has a breadth of experience and skill set that perfectly aligns with our nation’s Soft Power objectives so I see their role continuing to increase. I’d welcome the CAP on any of our missions!

Q: What were some of your lessons learned from last year’s Operation Southern Partner?

Seip: The first iteration of Operation Southern Partner was incredibly successful. We learned a lot about how to execute this mission from a logistical standpoint. Anytime you’re deploying more than 80 Airmen from 25 different career fields to four countries in two weeks, there are challenges.

More importantly, USAF Airmen learned from partner nation Airmen through the sharing of ideas, tactics, techniques and procedures. We never claim to bring all the answers to the table; instead we come to the table with a mindset of “What can I learn from the Airman seated across from me?”

If you are interested in learning more about Operation Southern Partner, click here.

The final installment of my interview with Lt. Gen. Seip continues tomorrow.

1st of a 3-part series

In a USNI Blog exclusive, I recently interviewed Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, Twelfth Air Force and Air Forces Southern Commander, on the USAF’s role in Soft Power. Seip is a passionate and inspirational leader and these traits will serve him and our nation well as the 12th Air Force “builds, enhance, and strengthen partnerships…” 

As you will see by our interview, the USAF is doing some great things in regards to Soft Power. Today’s post focuses on some general background information on soft power as well as funding issues.

Q: What is the U.S. Air Force’s definition of soft power?

Seip: Traditionally, Soft Power has been defined as the courses of action one nation uses (political measures, foreign policy, exportation of cultural values, etc) to influence or persuade another party to cooperate or adopt similar values. But I believe this is too narrow a definition, and that “influence” should never be part of the Soft Power

As I stated in Small Wars Journal, Air Forces Southern is zeroed in on Soft Power because of our area of focus; Central, South America and the Caribbean. Our objective is to promote security, enhance stability and enable partnerships across the Americas. Countering narcoterrorism, promoting human rights and providing humanitarian assistance to partner nations are some examples of Soft Power in action.

Q: What are some of the resources the U.S. Air Force has that can provide soft power?

Seip: Obviously the first resource people think of when the Air Force is involved is airpower….be it airlift, search and rescue or combat forces, the Air Force has a full array of airpower options to assist in Soft Power operations, but our most important resource is our Airmen….Officer, Enlisted, Active, Guard, Reserve and Civilians that make up our Total Force Team. I like to say that we build, enhance and strengthen partnerships with partner nation Air Forces ‘one Airman at a time.’

Although the notion is to first think of military hardware in relation to what the Air Force brings to the table, I prefer to think of Airmen as the key enabler in Soft Power operations. Airmen build bridges, both figuratively and literally, and are the most important part of making a Soft Power initiative successful. At any given time, more than 1,000 US Airmen are deployed in the AFSOUTH area of focus, working alongside other military members and in local communities to assist partner nations during dozens of training, outreach and infrastructure operations.

Airmen provide expertise, innovation, and a high degree of professionalism to every operation they’re involved. Whether it’s flying, engineering, maintenance, environmental, medical, rescue, chaplains, scientists or communicators, Airmen have a wealth of knowledge to share with partner nations. The personal relationships built between military members during Soft Power operations are integral to future military cooperation. When we send a team to assist a partner nation, it’s the spirit of the American Airman that I want people to remember.

Q: Do opportunities exist for the USAF to increase its role in Soft Power? If so, are they funded? If they are not funded, what soft power initiatives are on your unfunded programs list?

Seip: There’s always room for more resources – I run out of dollars long before I run out of opportunities to employ Soft Power initiatives in our AOF. I firmly believe that our great Air Force will participate in even more Soft Power initiatives in the near future.

Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have taught our up-and-coming commanders that firepower isn’t always the most effective means of solving problems. These leaders are bringing this mindset to every command they join; sharing ideas for Soft Power programs that may have helped citizens in the Horn of Africa or Afghanistan and applying them to their new assignments. The Air Force’s global reach and airlift capacity makes us the ‘go-to’ provider during natural disasters, humanitarian assistance and the like.

Money isn’t always the issue – many programs don’t cost a lot, but pay huge dividends to participants. For example: legal exchanges between Air Force JAGs and lawyers in Latin America help to reinforce the rule of law; allowing partner nation Airmen to attend an NCO Academy or Squadron Officer School in the United States increases the professionalization of their corps; deployed Airmen cleaning up a reef near their forward operating location benefits locals and tourists alike; and environmental experts sharing inspection techniques with partner nations can help prevent future pollution. These are some examples of low-cost Soft Power initiatives we’ve found to be very beneficial to our partner nations – in the case of Soft Power, creativity is often more important than a big budget.

While I can’t speak for every command, in AFSOUTH we’ve been particularly fortunate in that military and civilian leadership understand the value and importance in funding Soft Power initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, just six short months ago AFSOUTH received funds directly from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to execute Operation Southern Partner, the first-ever regionally focused subject matter exchange of its kind. The event proved so successful that our team is planning the next iteration to take place in June and again in the fall. This bi-annual event is focused on providing partner nation Air Forces with subject matter experts in areas they identify as value-added for their Air Forces. USAF members benefit by finding new perspectives on their career specialty and new ways of approaching problems common to Airmen.

For example, during medical exchanges in Chile and Uruguay, doctors from Wilford Hall shared trauma medicine techniques from their past deployments to Balad Air Base, Iraq. During the exchange, the American doctors also learned from their counterparts about new techniques in dealing with heart disease and emergency care. The American doctors were able to take these findings home with them and into their emergency rooms.
That’s success – effective Soft Power initiatives are two-way – we’re learning together with our partners.

Jim, this is only one example. I hope you can join us during the next Operation Southern Partner – to see for yourself Soft Power in action!

As for unfunded programs, our command is very fortunate to have Admiral Stavridis, the USSOUTHCOM commander, leading the Soft Power charge. If we’ve got an idea that might help benefit partner nations in the USSOUTHCOM area of focus, he works hard to find a way to fund these missions. I encourage our team to think of new and innovative programs to share across the region, and we haven’t turned down a good idea due to lack of money.

My interview with Lt. Gen. Seip continues tomorrow. Havy any questions on the interview so far? If so, please post them in the comments section.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power | 2 Comments

Sherry Mueller, president of the nonprofit National Council for International Visitors, writes in today’s Christian Science Monitor, 

While public diplomacy depends on active engagement by citizens, not just government agencies, it is a necessary government expenditure. By increasing funding for these programs and supporting the public-private partnerships that have engaged so many Americans as volunteer citizen diplomats, we will reap tremendous benefits for generations to come.

Full article here. Do you support increased funding for public diplomacy programs? Agree or disagree about the benefits? Have you ever been a citizen diplomat? Do you plan on being a citizen diplomat?

So much to comment about!

Great news for Soft Power advocates according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: 

Admiral Joxel Garcia, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health & Human Services, recently announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Public Health Service and the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) of the Department of Defense. The MOU allows Commissioned Corps officers of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to participate in more health missions serving underprivileged areas throughout Central, South America and the Caribbean. 

The MOU sets in place a framework for USPHS officers to participate in DoD Medical Readiness and Training Exercises (MEDRETEs) in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The MEDRETEs are professional health care training for military medical teams that visit rural, underprivileged areas in the hemisphere. The program is one of the premier U.S. health diplomacy efforts in the region, giving American military health care personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people while providing invaluable real-world training for US troops.

More here including a quote from fellow USNI Blogger, Adm. Jim Stavridis.

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