UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Academy Assembly guests discuss bridging war, peace

by Ann Patton
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

10/20/2009 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Class of 2010 cadets here Oct. 8 that their education will not end at graduation during his keynote address for the 2009 U.S. Air Force Academy Assembly.

"The world demands more education today," said Marine Gen. James Cartwright.

"This is the beginning, not the end," he said.

This year's assembly, held Oct. 6 through 9, focused on "Building the Bridge from War to Peace: Defining Interagency Roles in Rebuilding a Nation."

First convened in 1959, the annual assembly brings qualified, experienced and dynamic speakers to the conference for participants from service academies and other undergraduate schools. Past speakers have included diplomats, authors and military leaders with varying viewpoints and experiences.

During his address, General Cartwright pointed out that 41 babies are born in the United States every minute, compared with 160 in China and 280 in India.

"This is going to fundamentally change the world," he said, especially if sufficient natural resources are unavailable. He added that conflicts between nations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Iran and Iraq are tough problems, and the battle space cannot be isolated.

"War is not precise. It is an art," he said. "We must match reality with art and science to come up with an answer to how much we can expend."

General Cartwright noted the Air Force is taking hard looks at platforms, and its stealth capabilities and effectiveness and that it is estimated by 2020 computers will out process the human mind.

The integration of air and space he called the "turn of the coin."

"There is huge leverage there. We need to integrate and take advantage of thin air," he said.

Cyberspace has become a key leverage point as well, offensively as well as defensively, the general said.

"It is the No. 1 most lethal killer in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is the war of the future, and it is where the competitive edge is," he said, pointing out that cadets are in prime positions to take advantage of the opportunities.

On leadership, General Cartwright told cadets they need to stay relevant.

"It's not about you. It's about the people you lead," he said.

Among the conference speakers were Dr. Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders, Dr. Douglas Menarchik, former assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia, and Col. Neal Rappaport, the deputy department head of the Academy's Department of Economics. In addition, Navy Cmdr. Shoshanna Chatfield, who served as the provincial reconstruction team commander in Farah Province, Afghanistan, shared her views and experiences.

"I know Afghans. I ate lunch, and I ate dinner with Afghans," she said.

She challenged attendees to consider what it means to have 30 years of war in their homeland and when does mere survival give way to hope.

Commander Chatfield talked with the attendees on what we believe as a nation, including freedom, democracy, prosperity and rule of law. The new Afghani government will have growing pains, but the Afghans themselves must win in a counterinsurgency.

"One sure fire way to lose is to do it ourselves. They need to believe in a new government," she said.

She noted the best thing the U.S. can do is to help improve transparency in formal government and build on sustainable elements in their own community.

"Our debate should consider what it will take to convince the population their government is better able to take care of them than the insurgency," she said. "We cannot afford not to care, but we should not make them mirror images of us."

Commander Chatfield also discussed phase zero operations in a post-violence society and the necessity to set up dialogue prior to a crisis and posture with states we can partner with.

Ambassador John Herbst is the coordinator for reconstruction and development for the U.S. Department of State. He is leading the development of U.S. government civilian capacity to promote stabilization and reconstruction of societies in transition from conflict and to provide support to countries at risk of instability.

"We are thinking ahead about threats from failing states," he said and added the problem transcends operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He discussed the interconnectivity and centrifugal forces in a global economy and how secessions and failing states present serious national security issues even though they may be thousands of miles away.

"We have to have the capacity to go into failed states for a long time to come," he said.

The process to do so began with the creation of an interagency management group completed2.5 years ago.

"The hardest part of government is finding something new," he said, quoting the Italian philosopher Machiavelli.

The second step is building a 4,250-member civilian response corps, enlisting the experience and talents of such experts as health professionals, city planners, engineers, lawyers, economists and agriculturalists. After a decision is made to engage, the first rapid response team would be deployable in two or three days. Another component of the team would be on stand-by, and a final component of reserves could deploy between 30 and 60 days after the decision is made.

So far, the corps has responded to such locations as Eastern Chad, Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Darfur, but most of the work so far has been in Afghanistan.

"What we are trying to do is very hard and very complex," he said.

Sponsors for this year's assembly included the American Assembly of Columbia University, the Eisenhower Center, the Olmsted Foundation, the Association of Graduates and the Department of Political Science.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list