John Hillen, president of Global Strategies Group (USA) LLC, wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece for Defense News entitled “National Security Evolution.” [18 June 2007] Hillen, a staunch conservative, brings an interesting perspective to global security issues. He is a former soldier who served in Operation Desert Storm and an academic who received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford St. Anthony’s College. He has impeccable analytic credentials having served as an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Heritage Foundation. He also served as an Assistant Secretary of State for Political/Military Affairs under the current Bush administration. Hillen’s premise is that those involved in national security must transform to match a very different landscape than they have traversed in the past. He writes:
“Since World War II, the U.S. military’s sustainable competitive advantages have been in mass, technology and combat training. While the United States still maintains those advantages, they will not guarantee victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Southern Philippines or elsewhere in the war on terror. The Pentagon has recognized that it cannot kill or capture its way to victory. Instead, it will have to deploy a creative combination of lethal force and building for good governance that will appear to be a linking of combat and development.”
Hillen’s formula sounds remarkably like the combination of forces recommended by Tom Barnett — a Leviathan force (the lethal part) and a System Administrator force (the building good governance part) — or the “hybrid force” being touted by Rudy Guiliani in presidential debates. Hillen continues:
“Today, your average battalion commander in eastern Afghanistan is as interested in micro- financing programs for village entrepreneurs as he is in counterinsurgency combat missions. The U.S. military must still rely on high technology — but many times applied to low-tech problems. It can still use mass, but in precise packages tuned to the cultural anthropology of their operations area. Combat training is critical, but now supplemented by heavy doses of ‘soft’ skill sets previously only associated with the unconventional wars and special operations forces.”
Hillen then points out that not only does the military need to transform so does the industrial complex that supports it.
“The fundamental sources of America’s sustainable competitive military advantages are changing, but contractors need to change faster to keep up. We can no longer count on winning the next war because American ingenuity made a better towed sonar array than the next guy.”
In the “Pentagon’s New Map” briefing that marked Tom as one of America’s top strategists, he pointed out the Pentagon’s fascination with high tech weapons and sophisticated adversaries. He also noted that the Pentagon found itself trying to use all those high tech weapons in low tech situations. In Tom’s words, “The Pentagon is buying one military but fighting another.” Hillen sees the same thing:
“As the Cold War ended and the technologically based ‘revolution in military affairs’ became apparent, we sought military advantage in stealth, precision, range, lethality and information dominance through technological supremacy. Technology always got the big headlines, but those who served in combat in the past 25 years will tell you that it is the unparalleled combat training starting in the 1980s that provides the United States its sustainable advantage. Our training is as demanding and realistic as can be safely allowed, and it continues to make the difference on the ground. But today’s threat environment has broadened our understanding of what constitutes a security challenge. We recognize that the world’s poorly governed and disordered regions produce security challenges that not only threaten our interests there, but can assault us at home. We can no longer ignore poor governance, lack of economic opportunity, perpetually destabilized regions, radical movements and endemic social challenges in far-off places.”
Hillen and Barnett both point out that the softer side of the force that the United States needs to develop is not primarily a military force even though it must be part of the American national security community. I see this every day in my own work. I started Enterra Solutions to help break down the walls between compliance, security, and performance challenges. As the security landscape has changed, the technologies that Enterra Solutions has developed have found comfortable homes in both the commercial and government sectors — including the national security sector. That was one of the reasons that I was attracted to Tom’s thinking and recruited him for the company. Hillen sees the security environment emerging the same way that Tom and I do and he believes that companies must transform by breaking down the silos I describe above.
“In a smaller, globalized world, these issues represent a different threat than they have in the past, and national security companies must change to better support their government clients. The Pentagon, the intelligence community, the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and others are working in tandem in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and postconflict environments. They combine skill sets, tactics and know-how to counter threats that can only be defeated with unique combinations of intelligence, law enforcement, development and lethal military force. Back home, national security companies still largely work in the silos that their institutional clients reflect, and procure through. Most of the technological innovations and technology budget goes to military or intelligence programs designed to combat a symmetrical enemy. Instead, technology needs to be applied against the asymmetrical enemies — terrorists and insurgents — as it has been with the data fusion systems that are the backbone of counterterrorism efforts and the systems to protect critical infrastructure at home and abroad. … Our national security challenge has fundamentally changed, and in industry, so must we — not just in strengthening national defense, but stabilizing critical environments and assuring global commerce. The defense industry should work with an entire range of government clients to help the customer adjust to this new challenge in the same way industry has provided invaluable support to U.S. security in the past. Security is a broader concept than before and the national security company should be as well. “
Hillen is correct that security is much than defense. The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security would better reflect this fact if they were renamed the Department of Security and the Department of Homeland Defense. A system administrator force would then better fit into the former. The work that Enterra Solutions is looking to get involved with overseas are activities specifically aimed at “stabilizing critical environments and ensuring global commerce” as I’m sure are Hillen’s company’s activities. All of Enterra Solution’s overseas activities use Development-in-a-Box™ as a touchstone because it reminds us of the desired endstate — peaceful and prosperous emerging states. Hopefully, more of those involved in national security will understand the basic message Hillen is trying to convey — America’s security begins overseas by improving the lives of others and fostering the global economy.