For the past 6 years, the Operational Medicine Institute has worked with partners in the non profit world, national security arena and diplomatic circles to promote increased understanding and interoperability in our nation’s response to international crisis. In 2009, OMI staff assisted the Belfer Center for International Security in preparing and delivering a brief to Congressional Staff on the importance of the newly formed Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and stability. In 2010, OMI worked on the ground in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to facilitate the civil- military response to the devastating January earthquake. OMI views the newly established Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) as a major advance in promoting security and stability across the globe.
Modern security threats are increasingly linked to health disparity, low intensity conflicts over natural resources and population displacement. Though perhaps no more “complex” than issues encountered during the Cold War (e.g. it is hard to imagine arguing that the Cuban Missile Crisis was straight- forward), these threats require a reinvigoration of our entire national security apparatus. This means engaging all three tiers of diplomacy, developing an expeditionary diplomatic corps and rebuilding our Nation’s Civil- Military partnerships. The 3D (Diplomacy, Development and Defense) initiative set the strategic stage for this process (See the following for a variety of opinions on this effort Center for American Progress, Small Wars Journal, Center for New American Security (CNAS) ).
Success requires overcoming all of the standard hurdles: budgetary, philosophical, interpersonal, operational and political. Fortunately, nothing drives innovation like crisis. Internationally, the global economic downturn coupled with the youth bulge (see CFR article from 2007 and apply to the recent Arab Spring) is fueling an already complex security situation. Domestically, the faltering economy demands that we find cost effective and innovative solutions to our national security challenges. Now is the time to execute.
One option would be for the GSCF to function like an Angel Investor for social entrepreneurs working in the 3D arena. GSCF leaders should look beyond the government to groups like the SKOLL Foundation and Ashoka as models for driving change at local levels. In the private non- profit sector, groups like OMI, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and Team Rubicon can provide GSCF programs with problem solvers, experienced in working in complex environments.
The GSCF is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope that DOS and DOD to not succumb to the partisan political rancor that is crippling our nation. Regardless, we are in store for some intriguing policy debates in 2012.