Professional Readings

Reading #149

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  • Monday, July 31, 2017

Defense is from Mars, State is from Venus: Improving Communications and Promoting National Security

  • By: then-Lieutenant Colonel, now Brigadier General (Retired) Rickey Rife
  • Published: May 1998
  • Read "Who Moved My Cheese" article here.


Responding to crises, addressing the drivers of conflict, and achieving sustainable political outcomes require the application of all elements of national power (diplomatic, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement). Projecting national power requires military leaders to synchronize and integrate the capabilities and efforts of multiple partners to ensure unity of effort and accomplish missions across the range of military operations. In this first of two weekly readings, Brigadier General (Retired) Rickey Rife writes on the challenges of converging political and military capabilities in the pre-9-11 era. Next week’s subsequent professional reading by Bryan Groves from the Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation, “Risk Culture, Similarities & Differences between State and DoD”, explores a more contemporary perspective showing these challenges are persistent and still relevant today.

In this week’s reading, “Defense is from Mars, State is from Venus: Improving Communications and Promoting National Security” then-Lieutenant Colonel, now Brigadier General (Retired) Rickey Rife examines the character traits, institutional values, and personality preferences of the Department of State and Department of Defense. Rife observes that the relationship between the two agencies is a "marriage of necessity and convenience between two temperamental cultures” based on mutual trust and respect but each organization remains wary of the other. The scope of foreign policy issues in today's complex world, Rife argues, requires coordination, cooperation, and a higher degree of familiarity with each organization to capitalize on each organization’s inherent strengths.

Rife points out that the cultures of each organization are as different as alien life from two competing planets. Although warriors are from Mars (Defense) and diplomats are from Venus (state) each agency must develop a comprehensive understanding and appreciation for one another’s character traits, institutional values, and personality preferences. This understanding requires a cooperative attitude that recognizes the differences and capitalizes on them.

To increase cooperation Rife proposes “prescriptions” and suggests that “if used as directed” they may lead to a lasting and productive relationship between the two agencies. The following are Rife’s nine proposals:

  1. A clear line of authority is a “critical first step” towards a productive relationship with the military.
  2. Expose personnel to the other agency and to differences in their skills and perspectives early in the training cycle -don't wait until stereotypes are already formed.
  3. Link political-military assignments (broadening tours) to follow-on assignments.
  4. Ensure promotion boards for state stresses the importance of political-military experience.
  5. Use military personnel as speakers in State training programs, including the course taken upon entering the Foreign Service.
  6. Avoid turf battles and parochial interests -reward personnel who make contacts with counterparts in the other agency and return with ideas-e.g. a new technology that may have a broader application.
  7. Develop exercises and simulations that require personnel from State, the military, and other agencies to work together in developing and implementing policies consistent with Presidential Directives and U.S. policy.
  8. Educate Congress on how each agency operates.
  9. Training, training, training.
  10. Rife concludes his essay by observing that organizational cultures will always remain inherently different. Different is not bad. Recognizing those differences will enable leaders to overcome the biases, prejudices and the stereotypes that limit the ability to work effectively as a team.

    This week’s professional reading highlights the importance of coordination and cooperation with not only the state Department but with all governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and some elements of the private sector. Army leaders must not only understand how these diverse and disparate organizations operate, but take the necessary steps to increase training opportunities and build and strengthen relationships before combat operations in order to achieve unity of effort during combat operations.

    Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) describes how the convergence of political and military capabilities creates windows of advantage that enables the Joint Force to maneuver or gain a position of advantage. Windows of advantage are when necessary and favorable conditions are achieved over a specified area to prevent its effective use by the enemy or enable friendly operations. Capabilities from other governmental organizations provide the Joint Force commander with additional means and options to deter conflict or open windows of advantage during periods of conflict. For example, an agency could impose economic costs as a means of preventing conflict or another agency could secure access to dispersed basing locations that enables Joint Forces maneuver during periods of conflict. The most effective means, however, is converging political and military, as well as lethal and non-lethal capabilities across multiple domains in time and space to create windows of advantage that enable the U.S. to gain positions of advantage.

    To learn more about Multi-Domain Battle and contribute to conversation, access the following link:

As you read the article, consider the impacts on the following Army Warfighting Challenges:
#1 Develop Situational Understanding:

How to develop and sustain a high degree of situational understanding while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#2/3 Shape the Security Environment:

How the Army influences the security environment and engages key actors and local/regional forces in order to consolidate gains and achieve sustainable security outcomes in support of Geographic Combatant Commands and Joint requirements.

#7 Conduct Space, Cyberspace, Electronic Warfare, and Communications Operations :

How to assure access to and integrity of critical data and information, across multiple domains, in an increasingly contested and congested operational environment, while simultaneously denying the same to the enemy.

#9 Improve Soldier, Leader, and Team Performance:

How to develop resilient Soldiers, adaptive leaders, and cohesive teams committed to the Army professional ethic that are capable of accomplishing the mission in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.

#10 Develop Agile and Adaptive Leaders:

How to develop agile, adaptive, and innovative leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos and are capable of visualizing, describing, directing, and leading and assessing operations in complex environments and against adaptive enemies.

#13 Conduct Wide Area Security:

How do Army forces establish and maintain security across wide areas (wide area security) and across multiple domains to protect forces, populations, infrastructure, and activities necessary to shape security environments, consolidate gains, and set conditions for achieving policy goals.

#14 Ensure Interoperability and Operate in Joint, Inter-organizational, Multinational Environment:

How to integrate joint, inter-organizational, and multi-national partner capabilities and campaigns to ensure unity of effort and accomplish missions across the range of military operations.

#16 Set the Theater Sustain Operations and Maintain Freedom of Movement:

How to set the theater, provide strategic agility to the joint force, and maintain freedom of movement and action during sustained and high tempo operations at the end of extended lines of communication in austere environments.

#19 Exercise Mission Command:

How to understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations consistent with the philosophy of mission command to seize the initiative over the enemy and accomplish the mission across the range of military operations.

Continuous feedback, collaboration, and teamwork are keys to the success of the Campaign of Learning and driving innovation in the Army. Please use the Army Warfighting Challenges as the framework to contribute your ideas and recommendations with respect to this topic to improve our ability to innovate as we develop the current and future force.

The Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFC) framework may be accessed here:

For previous weekly readings go to: ARCIC Professional Readings

  1. Army Operating Concept, TRADOC Pam 525-3-1, 30 October 2014
  2. Multi-Domain Battle

All the best,