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McKinley: Guard's 'smart power' building partnership capacity worldwide

by Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

9/18/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The National Guard is focused on helping the nation build partnership capacity worldwide, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told State Department officials Sept. 14.

Examples include the National Guard's Agribusiness Development Teams serving in Afghanistan and its State Partnership Program with 61 countries, Gen. Craig McKinley told an audience of State Department political advisors, known as PolAds.

"PolAds are on the front line of our efforts to develop a more cooperative and effective relationship between the State Department and the Department of Defense," said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political/military affairs. "As advisors to our military services, combatant commanders and other senior military commanders, PolAds play a critical role in supporting our national security strategy."

PolAds are an example of "smart power," Mr. Shapiro said.

"Hard power" is a term to describe the application of military force. "Soft power" describes other instruments of national power: economic, diplomatic, information. "Smart power" describes the idea of intelligently applying hard and soft power for maximum effect.

A day before the CNGB's State Department visit, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond said at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, Tenn., "There is no entity in a better position to execute our nation's smart power than the National Guard."

"As chief of the National Guard Bureau, General McKinley has been a great proponent in supporting the whole-of-government approach to our national defense," Mr. Shapiro said.

Army Col. Martin Leppert, who is the coordinator the ADT program, joined General McKinley to brief the PolAds on the work of the ADTs, which draw on the civilian-acquired skills as well as military training of citizen Soldiers and citizen Airmen.

"The uniqueness of the Agribusiness Development Teams is that (citizen Soldiers and citizen Airmen) bring their ... skill sets from the United States as farmers, as agribusiness men and women to Afghanistan, where it is so needed after 40 years of constant turmoil and war," Colonel Leppert said.

The ADT program assists the combatant commander and involves partnerships with the State Department, Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development, other federal agencies, state land grant universities, state farm bureaus and other state and local agencies.

"We're working directly with you every day to synchronize our operations overseas," Colonel Leppert told the State Department PolAds. "It's been a very good relationship."

Because of the ADTs, Afghanistan has entered into a bilateral relationship with Nebraska, General McKinley said.

"There is a large Afghan population in Nebraska," General McKinley explained. "The University of Nebraska has a cultural center, and that relationship has been enduring for decades."

Afghan medics recently received stateside training.

"We're on the verge ... of codifying this relationship," General McKinley said. "We solicit good ideas for ... partnering wherever it makes sense."

Meanwhile, the National Guard State Partnership Program that emerged from the collapse of the former Eastern Bloc in the early 1990s now partners 61 countries with National Guard states.

"The (SPP) began with the collapse of the Berlin Wall,'' said John Finney, the NGB PolAd, emphasizing how the program supports combatant commanders and involves partnerships with the State Department and other agencies.

"The partnership works in three dimensions," he said, "military-to-military engagement, military-to-civil engagement and civil security cooperation."

Combatant commanders and the Office of the Secretary of Defense building partnership capacity pay for the program, Mr. Finney said.

General McKinley also met privately with State Department officials during his visit, including Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two discussed the ADTs, National Guard training of civilian advisors for Afghanistan at the Indiana National Guard's Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and other issues.

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