The Foreign Service Journal - June 2017
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Defense and Security:

Opposite Sides of the Same Coin

A Conversation with Frank Carlucci

Mr. Secretary, how do you think your Foreign Service

career has helped shape your approach to problems that you

face at the Pentagon?

A large part of this job is engaging in a form of international

diplomacy. Indeed, the line between Defense and State becomes

increasingly blurred as the means of communication improve, a

steady stream of visitors come through Washington, and we’re all

traveling around the world.

Just to take two examples. I spent most of today meeting with

the new German defense minister. While we spent a fair amount

of time on purely military and procurement matters, most of

our time was spent discussing changes in the Soviet Union and

negotiating strategy for START and conventional arms reductions.

These are a form of diplomacy. Another example: When I was in

Japan, my host at dinner was the Japanese foreign minister. So I

have spent a lot of time on this job serving in a diplomatic role.

In recent crisis situations, such as Panama and the Persian

Gulf, State and Defense have eachmade policy recommenda-

tions in accord with the other’s primary instrument of policy,

with Defense supporting diplomatic overtures and State advo-

cating military commitments. Is this apparent institutional

role reversal becoming more and more common?

First of all, you have to look at situations like Panama in their

broader policy context. One of the reasons you have a National




Security Council is that, in 1947, President Truman and the nation

recognized the need for a forum in which issues of diplomacy and

national security can come together because they are opposite

sides of the same coin.

When the State Department deliberates on a course of action

or when they negotiate, they have to be aware of the underlying

military strategy. Similarly, when the State Department talks of

the possible need to use the military in any contingency, Defense

has to look at it in terms of achieving the goal, its cost, the level of

readiness, and what lives will be at risk. Obviously, in such cases,

Defense expresses a view. So, there’s nothing unnatural about each

department talking about the skills and resources of the other.

You are one of only a handful of civilians with diplomatic

experience to serve as the president’s national security advi-

sor. Why do you think Foreign Service officers have so seldom

held this particular post?

Basically, the national security advisor is a staff job, and it’s

very much a president’s individual choice. The question of why

presidents select certain individuals as opposed to other indi-

viduals is almost impossible to answer.

There have been Foreign Service officers in many, many NSC

jobs, including the current deputy national security advisor, John

Negroponte. I doubt very much that any president takes into

consideration whether somebody is a military man or a Foreign

The secretary of Defense comments on the relationship between Defense and State.

Frank Carlucci, a former Career Minister in the Foreign Service, served as assistant to the president for national security affairs before becom-

ing secretary of Defense in November 1987. Carlucci joined the Department of State in 1956 and was posted to Johannesburg, Kinshasa,

Zanzibar and Rio de Janeiro. In his long government career, he has served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, deputy director

of the Office of Management and Budget, under secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and deputy director of Central

Intelligence. In 1976, he was appointed ambassador to Portugal.

This June interview was conducted by David A. Sadoff, a presidential management intern with the State Department, presently detailed to

the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement.





JUNE 2017