Professional Readings

Reading #150

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  • Friday, August 4, 2017

Risk Culture: Similarities & Differences between State and DoD


In the first of our two article series, last week’s professional reading by Brigadier General (Retired) Rickey Rife examined the character traits, institutional values, and personality preferences of the Department of State and Department of Defense and the challenges of converging political and military capabilities in the pre-9-11 era. In this week’s follow-up article, MAJ Bryan Groves from the Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation, provides an interesting perspective as he explores how differences in risk aversion and resources are the causal factors for the similarities and differences between DoS and DoD. This more contemporary piece reinforces the differences between the two departments but provides us with the opportunity to see each other (DoD & DoS) as value added and as complementary capabilities.

MAJ Groves describes the different mission sets for DoD and State by saying DoD concentrates its forces in a few areas during periods of conflict while State maintains a continuous presence in almost every country in the world. In addition to this permanent versus temporary presence contrast, he goes on comparing the two agencies across several other areas including administrative & medical considerations, personnel profiles, culture and physical security, and even the “deployment factor”.

This second article highlights the value of complementary operations. DoD and State most effectively exist in a symbiotic world where the DoD capitalizes on the indigenous nature of State. The cultural and political knowhow of state informs military actions and military capability can influence State’s effectiveness. Groves ends his article by stating that the appropriate response when analyzing the differences between organizations is to recognize and appreciate the differences for what they are while also embracing the many similarities: mission focus, competent people, and the desire to contribute to a cause greater than oneself despite real risks.

In the context of Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) in future conflicts, we typically start thinking about technological advances and how those will enable us to create windows of overmatch against our enemies and adversaries. There is no doubt these advancements will be critical to our success, but we can’t lose sight of some of the more rudimentary ways to strengthen our capabilities in DoD. Improved relationships and understanding with the DoS will only create more opportunities and increase our ability to influence and shape our battlefield in a non-kinetic way. MAJ Groves’ insights reinforce the need for different agencies and organizations to understand each other and capitalize on our mutually beneficial capabilities, regardless of who we think accepts the most risk. In a future of cost prohibitive technologies and a complicated operating environment, improved coordination amongst agencies and organization is one of the easiest and most cost efficient means for us to improve our position on the battlefield and advance our national interests.

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,