IPA’s Global Strategy Group (GSG) is a team of former officers from the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the FBI, and the private sector. They are a team of experts in foreign affairs, global security, interagency and intergovernmental cooperation. Emphasizing a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach, the GSG provides solutions by designing, planning and executing scenario-supported wargames and experiments addressing complex emerging security challenges.

The GSG has produced and delivered numerous reports and handbooks on best practices for civil-military, interagency, and host-country cooperation. The topics range from conflict prevention and mitigation to post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction. The team has also provided extensive support to NATO in moving toward the implementation of the Alliance’s Strategic Concept.

3D (Defense, Diplomacy, Development) Dissent Channel

Deployment of forces to Afghanistan, Iraq, several African countries, and other locations threatened by terrorism in the interest of our national security has led to increased efforts to coordinate the efforts of the Department of Defense, Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (3D – Defense, Diplomacy, Development).  One way we have referenced our efforts is to call them Whole-of-Government processes.  Threats to our national security are likely to continue for years.  Past experiences have demonstrated that we don’t cooperate effectively, particularly in our efforts to improve communications between the field and headquarters.  H.R. McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty showed the weaknesses in the Vietnam War. In addition, much has been written about the errors made in the reconstruction effort in Iraq following the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. Recently the decision to withdraw forces from Syria again raises questions about how effectively in-country knowledge is taken into account in senior policy decision-making. 

What questions do we need to consider if we wish to address this perpetual weakness? Are our separate government departments (DOD, State, USAID) able to coordinate their in-country assessments and recommendations adequately, or do they still mostly work on their separate agendas?  The State Department has institutionalized a dissent channel for officers who wish to express their views on senior policy decisions; should this be expanded to become a Whole-of-Government dissent channel?  Can the military, which depends on discipline and obedience, accommodate such a process?  What would be the effect of such a process – would it make a difference?  Dissent is often seen as insubordination in the political context of foreign affairs and those expressing dissent punished for not understanding the “big picture.” How can it be done in a way that gains the respect of senior political leaders?  Are we willing to accept making mistakes of judgment in crisis responses perpetually because this issue is too sensitive?


Information on the U.S. State Department Dissent Channel:


  • Re: 3D (Defense, Diplomacy, Development) Dissent Channel

    by » 5 years ago

    This is a serious issue where thorough examination and thought is desperately needed and could profit leaders and staffs in future whole-of-government (WOG) operations.  I think it is important at this point to review and note that a DOS dissent process (e.g., the Dissent Channel) exists in initial development of a WOG dissent process.  However, rather trying to expand it, I believe that we should first consider and list the reasons that dissent may occur in a whole-of-government approach.  We should also note several real-world examples of when and how dissent has occurred in a breadth of whole-of-government operations.  I offer that one of the most complicated operations where a raft of types and examples of dissent and the various outcomes that occurred on a regular (e.g., daily) basis was the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).  Many lessons can come from papers, theses, reports, and books like Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands With The Devil.  This could serve as a textbook of examples ranging from the differences between diplomatic,  military and aid organizations' psyches; between government and civilian organizations; between national and international hierarchies; and within the chain-of-command of each organization, among other interactions that occur before multiple groups.  Another important piece is how other organizations inside and outside the 3D accommodate dissent.

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