Under the Obama Administration, “there has been a sea-change” in the level of cooperation between the Pentagon and State Department, said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. State Secretary Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—as well as former DOD boss Robert Gates during his tenure—have brought the two departments closer together as they address overlapping issues such as counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and energy security, said Shapiro on Aug. 8 during a Center for Strategic and International Studies-sponsored discussion in Washington, D.C. “The need for a more multifaceted and integrated approach to address these challenges is clearly understood,” he said, citing a memorandum of understanding that doubles personnel exchanges between the two departments as one example of this. One audience member from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, however, said he “observed breakdowns in interagency collaboration for oversight and implementation.” While he affirmed that the changes Shapiro discussed happened at the planning level, this official, who once served as an advisor to the Afghan defense minister, implied that these shifts in attitude don’t always make it to the ground level. (CSIS webpage of event with link to video)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.