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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

SEPTEMBER 2017

11

policy theories that have real-

life, real-time implications.

My participation in the

2017 Eager Lion exercise in

Jordan convinced me that

military exercises can teach

us what the Department

of Defense ought to learn

about the State Department

and foreign policy objectives. Trainings

that include a Command Post Exercise,

in which military leaders role-play their

way through a military campaign in an

imaginary country, can also teach State

about the effects of military operations in

a host country.

For 10 days in May, in addition to

my real job as foreign policy adviser

(POLAD) to Task Force 51/5th Marine

Expeditionary Brigade in Bahrain, I

moonlighted as the POLAD to Combined

Joint Task Force–Blueland in an imagi-

nary country fighting an insurgency

sponsored by its neighbor, Redland.

What I learned there could fill a course at

the Foreign Service Institute.

What should DOD learn? First, partner

nations are not monolithic. They face

internal threats. Sometimes they inadver-

tently contribute to internal threats. Sec-

ond, partners have real reasons for saying

no, and continuing to push them can be

counterproductive. Third, we can hurt our

cause by failing to consider the effects of

our actions on host-country nationals.

Fourth, refugees and internally

displaced people will not return to their

homes unless they can return to some-

thing safe and worthwhile. Fifth, some

countries do not act in good faith when

negotiating peace. And sixth, partnering

with irregular forces will have indirect or

secondary effects on the host country and

the region.

What can State learn about the effects

of military operations in a host country?

First, fighting may not take

as much time and effort as

supply and logistics. Second,

DOD sees State and the

interagency as a black box.

I explained to military col-

leagues that different bureaus

in State, different overseas

missions and other agencies

do not always come with unified views,

policy preferences and capabilities.

I saw an opportunity for both State

and DOD to develop more effective

shared approaches to problems. For

example, both could benefit from view-

ing peace talks holistically. Rather than

silently resenting the peace talks and

restrictions imposed by headquarters,

we could shape the talks by offering tan-

gible objectives for negotiations.

Serving at an embassy or on a desk

in Washington, we cannot afford to fail

or make mistakes, even if we learn from

them. The stakes are too high. But we

must improve our skills as foreign policy

practitioners, just as our military col-

leagues are constantly honing their skills.

Sending FSOs to participate in com-

plex exercises such as EL17 can provide

valuable training, not only for military

leaders, but also for FSOs. In today’s

world, FSOs often find that their best

opportunities for shaping policy and

making a difference at home and abroad

are through sharing experiences with our

DOD colleagues.

Seiji T. Shiratori

FSO, POLAD to Task Force 51/5th

Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Bahrain

Social Media Training

for the Future

Amelia Shaw’s

clarion call

to recon-

sider how the Foreign Service uses social

media (May Speaking Out) was as lucid