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Testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign 
Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT:
Wednesday, July 28, 2010: 

National Security: 

Interagency Collaboration Practices and Challenges at DOD's Southern 
and Africa Commands: 

Statement of John H. Pendleton, Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

GAO-10-962T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-962T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and 
Government Reform, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Recognizing the limits of military power in todayís security 
environment, the Department of Defense (DOD) is collaborating with 
other U.S. federal agencies to achieve its missions around the world. 
DODís combatant commands, such as U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and 
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), play key roles in this effort. Both aim 
to build partner nation capacity and perform humanitarian assistance, 
while standing ready to perform a variety of military operations. 
Among its missions, SOUTHCOM supports U.S. law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies in the Americas and Caribbean in disrupting 
illicit trafficking and narco-terrorism. As DODís newest command, 
AFRICOM works with U.S. diplomacy and development agencies on 
activities such as maritime security and pandemic response efforts. 
Today GAO issued reports that the subcommittee requested on SOUTHCOM 
(GAO-10-801) and AFRICOM (GAO-10-794), which in part evaluated how 
each collaborates with U.S. interagency partners. This testimony 
summarizes that work and provides observations from ongoing work on 
U.S. counterpiracy efforts by focusing on 3 key areas essential for 
interagency collaboration. 

What GAO Found: 

GAOís work has shown that developing overarching strategies, creating 
collaborative organizations, and building a workforce that understands 
how to fully engage partners are key areas where agencies can enhance 
interagency collaboration on national security issues. GAO found that 
DODís SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM have demonstrated some practices that will 
help enhance and sustain collaboration, but areas for improvement 
remain. 

* Overarching strategies: SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM have sought input from 
several federal agencies in creating their theater campaign plans, 
which outline command priorities, and for other strategies and plans. 
However, AFRICOM has not completed plans that detail its activities by 
country and that align with embassy strategic plans to ensure U.S. 
government unity of effort in Africa. Also, GAOís preliminary work 
indicates that a U.S. action plan provides a framework for interagency 
collaboration to counter piracy in the Horn of Africa region, but the 
plan does not assign agencies their roles or responsibilities for the 
majority of tasks in the plan. 

* Collaborative organizations: Both commands have organizational 
structures that encourage interagency involvement in their missions. 
Each has a military deputy commander to oversee military operations 
and a civilian deputy to the commander from the State Department to 
oversee civil-military activities. Both commands also embed 
interagency officials within their organizations, but limited 
resources at other federal agencies have prevented interagency 
personnel from participating at the numbers desired. However, AFRICOM 
has struggled to fully leverage the expertise of embedded officials. 
Moreover, while SOUTHCOMís organizational structure was designed to 
facilitate interagency collaboration, the 2010 Haiti earthquake 
response revealed weaknesses in this structure that initially hindered 
its efforts to conduct a large-scale military operation. 

* Well-trained workforce: AFRICOM has emphasized the need to work 
closely with U.S. embassies to ensure that activities are consistent 
with U.S. foreign policy and to contribute to a unity of effort among 
interagency partners. In addition, the command has designated cultural 
awareness as a core competency for its staff. However, some AFRICOM 
staff have limited knowledge about working with U.S. embassies and 
about cultural issues in Africa, which has resulted in some cultural 
missteps. Further, limited training is available to enhance personnel 
expertise. While GAOís work on SOUTHCOM did not focus on training, 
personnel from the command also expressed the need for more 
opportunities to improve their understanding of working in an 
interagency environment. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO made recommendations to the commands aimed at improving their 
capabilities to perform their missions through the development of 
plans and training. DOD agreed with the recommendations. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-962T] or key 
components. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 
512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss some of the ways that the 
Department of Defense (DOD) is collaborating with other U.S. federal 
government agencies to carry out its missions around the world. Recent 
terrorist events and lessons learned from the ongoing wars in Iraq and 
Afghanistan illustrate that today's global security challenges have 
expanded beyond the traditional threats of the Cold War era. These new 
threats can be unconventional and ambiguous, requiring enhanced 
collaboration with interagency partners and other stakeholders. For 
its part, DOD recognizes the limits of traditional military power in 
today's security environment, which consists of a wide-range of 
challenges (e.g., terrorism, illicit trafficking, organized crime, 
piracy) that are often exacerbated by conditions of poverty and 
profound cultural and demographic tensions. The military's approach to 
these challenges requires increased collaboration with interagency 
partners such as the Department of State (State) and the U.S. Agency 
for International Development (USAID), with DOD often serving in a 
supporting role to other federal agencies. 

Two of DOD's geographic combatant commands, U.S. Southern Command 
(SOUTHCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), play key roles in this 
effort outside of the United States. Both SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM aim to 
build partner nation capacity and conduct humanitarian assistance 
projects, while standing ready to perform a variety of military 
operations, as directed. Among its missions, SOUTHCOM supports U.S. 
law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Americas and the 
Caribbean in disrupting illicit trafficking and narco-terrorism. 
Having reorganized in 2008, in part to focus on interagency 
collaboration, SOUTHCOM has been viewed as having mature interagency 
processes and coordinating mechanisms. AFRICOM, as DOD's newest 
combatant command, works with U.S. diplomacy and development agencies 
on activities ranging from maritime security to pandemic response 
efforts on the African continent.[Footnote 1] The 2008 National 
Defense Strategy cites both SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM as pointing the way 
toward a whole-of-government approach to achieving common goals. 

Today we issued the reports you requested on SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM, 
which in part evaluated how each command collaborates with interagency 
partners.[Footnote 2] In addition, last September we issued a report 
on key issues and actions needed to enhance interagency collaboration 
on national security for Congress and the administration to consider 
in their oversight and management agendas.[Footnote 3] My statement 
today discusses findings from our SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM reviews in 
three areas essential for interagency collaboration. In addition, the 
statement provides some preliminary information from our ongoing 
review of counterpiracy efforts in the Horn of Africa region that was 
also requested by the subcommittee and will be completed later this 
year. 

This statement is based largely on completed GAO work, which was 
performed in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. To conduct our work, we reviewed relevant documents, 
analyzed data, traveled to the regions, and interviewed officials from 
various agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland 
Security, Justice, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and the U.S. 
Agency for International Development. Additional information about our 
scope and methodology for our AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM work can be found 
within the full reports. 

Key Areas for Interagency Collaboration: 

Our body of work on interagency collaboration has identified several 
key areas that are essential for collaboration among U.S. federal 
agencies in addressing security challenges. Three are particularly 
important for SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM: (1) developing and implementing 
overarching strategies, (2) creating collaborative organizations, and 
(3) building a well-trained workforce. Underlying the success of these 
key areas is committed and effective leadership. 

* Developing and implementing overarching strategies: Our prior work, 
as well as that by national security experts, has found that strategic 
direction is required as a foundation for collaboration on national 
security goals. The means to operate across multiple agencies and 
organizations--such as compatible policies and procedures that 
facilitate collaboration across agencies and mechanisms to share 
information frequently--enhances and sustains collaboration among 
federal agencies. Strategies can help agencies develop mutually 
reinforcing plans and determine activities, resources, processes, and 
performance measures for implementing those strategies. Moreover, a 
strategy defining organizational roles and responsibilities can help 
agencies clarify who will lead or participate in activities, help 
organize their joint and individual efforts, facilitate decision 
making, and address how conflicts would be resolved. 

* Creating collaborative organizations: Given the differences among 
U.S. government agencies--such as differences in structure, planning 
processes, and funding sources--developing adequate coordination 
mechanisms is critical to achieving integrated approaches. U.S. 
government agencies, such as DOD, State, and USAID, among others, 
spend billions of dollars annually on various defense, diplomatic, and 
development missions in support of national security. Without 
coordination mechanisms, the results can be a patchwork of activities 
that waste scarce funds and limit the overall effectiveness of federal 
efforts. 

* Developing a well-trained workforce: Collaborative approaches to 
national security require a well-trained workforce with the skills and 
experience to integrate the government's diverse capabilities and 
resources. A lack of understanding of other agencies' cultures, 
processes, and core capabilities can hamper U.S. national security 
partners' ability to work together effectively. However, training can 
help personnel develop the skills and understanding of other agencies' 
capabilities needed to facilitate interagency collaboration. 

Effective leadership is essential to achieving success in each of 
these areas. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review states that by 
integrating U.S. defense capabilities with other elements of national 
security--including diplomacy, development, law enforcement, trade, 
and intelligence--the nation can ensure that the right mix of 
expertise is at hand to take advantage of emerging opportunities and 
to thwart potential threats. In addition, the 2010 National Security 
Strategy calls for a renewed emphasis on building a stronger 
leadership foundation for the long term to more effectively advance 
U.S. interests. 

Interagency Practices and Challenges at SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM, and with 
U.S. Counterpiracy Efforts: 

Our work on SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM found that both commands have 
demonstrated some practices that will help enhance and sustain 
interagency collaboration, but areas for improvement remain. Moreover, 
our preliminary work on counterpiracy efforts in the Horn of Africa 
region suggests that U.S. agencies have made progress in leading and 
supporting international efforts to counter piracy, but implementation 
challenges exist. 

Interagency Partners Have Helped Develop Strategies and Plans, but 
Some Remain Unfinished at AFRICOM and for Counterpiracy Efforts: 

SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM have sought input from several federal agencies 
in developing overarching strategies and plans, but AFRICOM has not 
yet completed many specific plans to guide activities and ensure a 
U.S. government unity of effort in Africa. In addition, our 
preliminary work shows that a U.S. action plan has been developed 
which provides a framework for interagency collaboration, but the 
roles and responsibilities of the multiples agencies involved in 
countering piracy in the Horn of Africa region are not clearly 
assigned. 

Commands Have Engaged Interagency Partners in Developing Strategies 
and Plans: 

In its Guidance for Employment of the Force,[Footnote 4] DOD required 
both SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM, as prototype test cases, to seek broader 
involvement from other departments in drafting their theater campaign 
and contingency plans. To meet this requirement, SOUTHCOM held a 
series of meetings with interagency officials that focused on 
involving and gathering input from interagency partners. In developing 
its 2009 theater campaign plan, which lays out command priorities and 
guides its resource allocations, SOUTHCOM coordinated with over 10 
U.S. government departments and offices, including the Departments of 
State, Homeland Security, Justice, the Treasury, Commerce, and 
Transportation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence 
(see figure 1). According to both SOUTHCOM and interagency partners, 
this coordination helped SOUTHCOM understand the diverse missions of 
its interagency partners and better align activities and resources in 
the Americas and the Caribbean. As a result of this effort, SOUTHCOM's 
2009 theater campaign plan includes 30 theater objectives, of which 22 
are led by interagency partners with SOUTHCOM serving in a supporting 
role. SOUTHCOM also provides input into State's regional strategic 
plans. Both SOUTHCOM and interagency partners told us that this 
coordination has helped ensure that SOUTHCOM and interagency partner 
strategic goals were mutually reinforcing and has helped align 
activities and resources in achieving broad U.S. objectives. 

Figure 1: Partners from which SOUTHCOM Received Input during 
Development of the 2009 Theater Campaign Plan: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

2009 Theater Campaign Plan: Input received from: 
* Department of Commerce; 
* Department of Energy; 
* Department of Homeland Security; 
* Department of Justice; 
* Department of State; 
* Department of Transportation; 
* Department of the Treasury; 
* Environmental Protection Agency; 
* Office of Director of National Intelligence; 
* U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Source: Joint Operational War Plans Division, Joint Staff. 

[End of figure] 

Similarly, AFRICOM met with representatives from many agencies to gain 
interagency input into its theater campaign plan. We spoke with 
officials from State, USAID, and the U.S. Coast Guard who stated that 
they provided input into several additional strategy documents, 
including DOD's Guidance for Employment of the Force and AFRICOM's 
posture statement, and participated in activity planning meetings. 
Federal agency officials also noted progress in AFRICOM's interagency 
coordination since its establishment. State officials said that 
AFRICOM had made improvements in taking their feedback and creating an 
environment that is conducive to cooperation across agencies. 
Similarly, USAID officials said that AFRICOM had improved its 
coordination with their agency at the USAID headquarters level. 
Notwithstanding this collaboration, AFRICOM officials told us that 
aligning strategies among partners can be difficult because of 
different planning horizons among agencies. For example, AFRICOM's 
theater campaign plan covers fiscal years 2010 through 2014, whereas 
the State/USAID strategic plan spans fiscal years 2007 through 2012. 

Some AFRICOM Plans Remain Unfinished, Which Hinders Unity of Effort: 

While AFRICOM has collaborated with partners on overarching 
strategies, it has not yet completed some plans, which hinders 
planning and implementation efforts with partners. AFRICOM currently 
lacks regional engagement and country work plans for Africa, which are 
called for in its theater campaign plan and would provide specific 
information on conducting activities. One key requirement for the 
country work plans, for example, is to align them with embassy 
strategic plans to ensure unity of effort. Figure 2 shows AFRICOM's 
plans in the context of national strategies, guidance, and other 
federal agencies' planning efforts. 

Figure 2: AFRICOM Strategic Guidance and Plans: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

National strategies and guidance: 

National Security Strategy and National Security Presidential 
Directive-50 (Completed plan); 
National Defense Strategy (Completed plan); 
National Military Strategy (Completed plan); 
Guidance for Employment of the Force (Completed plan); 
Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (Completed plan). 

Command vision and strategy: 

Commanderís Vision (Completed plan); 
AFRICOM Theater Strategy (Completed plan); 
Non-DOD documents: 
- State/USAID Joint Strategic Plan (Completed plan); 
- State Africa Bureau Strategic Plan (Completed plan); 
- USAID Strategic Framework for Africa (Completed plan). 

Campaign plan and supporting plans: 

AFRICOM Theater Campaign Plan (Completed plan): 
- U.S. Air Force Africa Support Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
- U.S. Navy Africa Support Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
- U.S. Marine Corps Africa Support Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
- U.S. Army Africa Support Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Support Plan (Draft or 
uncompleted plan); 
- U.S. Special Operations Command Africa Support Plan (Draft or 
uncompleted plan).  

Regional engagement plans: 

Southern Regional Engagement Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
Central Regional Engagement Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
North Regional Engagement Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
West Regional Engagement Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
East Regional Engagement Plan (Draft or uncompleted plan). 

Contingency and other plans: 

Country Work Plans (Draft or uncompleted plan); 
Non-DOD documents: 
- Embassy Mission Strategic and Resource Plans (Completed plan). 

(Draft or uncompleted plan) 

Source: GAO presentation of DOD data. 

[End of figure] 

AFRICOM's Army component stated that perhaps the greatest challenge to 
creating positive conditions in Africa is ensuring that U.S. defense 
efforts remain synchronized; if plans are not coordinated, their 
efforts could have unintended consequences, such as the potential for 
Africans to perceive the U.S. military as trying to influence public 
opinion in a region sensitive to the military's presence. At the time 
we completed our audit work, AFRICOM's regional plans had not been 
approved by the command, and the country plans were still in the 
process of being developed. Therefore, we recommended that the 
Secretary of Defense direct AFRICOM to expedite the completion of its 
plans and to develop a process whereby plans are reviewed on a 
recurring basis to ensure that efforts across the command are 
complementary, comprehensive, and supportive of AFRICOM's mission. 
[Footnote 5] DOD agreed with our recommendation, stating that some of 
the plans are in the final stages of review and approval by AFRICOM's 
leadership. 

U.S. Government Has Action Plan to Counter Piracy, but Agencies' Roles 
and Responsibilities Are Not Clearly Defined: 

Our preliminary work on U.S. counterpiracy efforts off the Horn of 
Africa shows that the United States has an action plan that serves as 
an overarching strategy and provides a framework for interagency 
collaboration, but roles and responsibilities have not been clearly 
assigned. The action plan establishes three main lines of action for 
interagency stakeholders, in collaboration with industry and 
international partners, to take in countering piracy. These actions 
are (1) prevent pirate attacks by reducing the vulnerability of the 
maritime domain to piracy; (2) interrupt and terminate acts of piracy, 
consistent with international law and the rights and responsibilities 
of coastal and flag states; and (3) ensure that those who commit acts 
of piracy are held accountable for their actions by facilitating the 
prosecution of suspected pirates by flag, victim, and coastal states 
and, in appropriate cases, the United States. 

Figure 3: Search and Seizure Team Boarding a Suspicious Boat in the 
Indian Ocean: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: U.S. Navy. 

[End of figure] 

While piracy in the Horn of Africa region emanates primarily from 
Somalia, a country located within AFRICOM's area of responsibility, 
most attacks are carried out in waters within U.S. Central Command's 
jurisdiction. Outside DOD, many other stakeholders are involved in 
counterpiracy efforts. Specifically, the action plan states that, 
subject to the availability of resources, the Departments of State, 
Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, and the Treasury 
and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shall also 
contribute to, coordinate, and undertake initiatives. Our preliminary 
work indicates that the National Security Council, which authored the 
plan, has not assigned the majority of tasks outlined in the plan to 
specific agencies. As of July 2010, only one task, providing an 
interdiction-capable presence, had been assigned to the Navy and Coast 
Guard. Roles and responsibilities for other tasks--such as strategic 
communications, disrupting pirate revenue, and facilitating 
prosecution of suspected pirates--have not been clearly assigned. 
Without specific roles and responsibilities for essential tasks 
outlined in the action plan, the U.S. government cannot ensure that 
agencies' approaches are comprehensive, complementary, and effectively 
coordinated. 

Commands Have Developed Structures to Facilitate Interagency 
Collaboration, but Organizational Challenges Remain at Both Commands: 

SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM have developed organizational structures to 
facilitate interagency collaboration, but challenges include fully 
leveraging interagency personnel and maintaining the ability to 
organize quickly for large-scale military operations when necessary. 

Commands Have Established Organizational Structures That Facilitate 
Interagency Collaboration: 

Both commands have established key leadership positions for 
interagency officials within their organizational structures. In 
addition to a deputy military commander who oversees military 
operations, each command has a civilian deputy to the commander from 
State who oversees civil-military activities. At SOUTHCOM, the 
civilian deputy to the commander--a senior foreign service officer 
with the rank of Minister Counselor at State--advises SOUTHCOM's 
commander on foreign policy issues and serves as the primary liaison 
with State and with U.S. embassies located in SOUTHCOM's area of 
responsibility. At AFRICOM, the civilian deputy to the commander 
directs AFRICOM's activities related to areas such as health, 
humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and peace support 
operations. 

Both commands have also embedded interagency officials throughout 
their organizations. As of June 2010, AFRICOM reported that it had 
embedded 27 interagency partners into its headquarters staff from 
several federal agencies (see table 1), and according to officials at 
AFRICOM and State, it plans to integrate five foreign policy advisors 
from State later this year. Moreover, DOD has signed memorandums of 
understanding with nine federal agencies to outline conditions for 
sending interagency partners to AFRICOM. As of July 2010, SOUTHCOM 
reported that it had 20 embedded interagency officials (see table 1), 
with several placed directly into key senior leadership positions. 
SOUTHCOM has also created a partnering directorate, which among its 
responsibilities, has the role of embedding interagency personnel into 
the command. Decisions to embed interagency officials at SOUTHCOM are 
made on a case-by-case basis, with most agencies sending a 
representative to SOUTHCOM on a short-term basis to discuss needs, 
roles, and responsibilities and to assess whether a full-time embedded 
official would be mutually beneficial. 

Table 1: Reported Number of Embedded Interagency Personnel at AFRICOM 
and SOUTHCOM Headquarters: 

Agency: Department of State; 
AFRICOM: 5; 
SOUTHCOM: 5. 

Agency: U.S. Agency for International Development; 
AFRICOM: 2; 
SOUTHCOM: 3. 

Agency: Department of Homeland Security; 
AFRICOM: 6; 
SOUTHCOM: 5. 

Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence; 
AFRICOM: 4; 
SOUTHCOM: 3. 

Agency: Department of Justice; 
AFRICOM: 3; 
SOUTHCOM: 4. 

Agency: Department of the Treasury; 
AFRICOM: 2; 
SOUTHCOM: [Empty]. 

Agency: Department of Energy; 
AFRICOM: 1; 
SOUTHCOM: [Empty]. 

Agency: National Security Agency; 
AFRICOM: 4; 
SOUTHCOM: [Empty]. 

Agency: Total; 
AFRICOM: 27; 
SOUTHCOM: 20. 

Agency: Percentage of command's headquarters staff[A]; 
AFRICOM: 2%; 
SOUTHCOM: 3%. 

Source: GAO presentation of SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM data. 

Note: Data from AFRICOM are as of June 2010. Data from SOUTHCOM are as 
of July 2010. 

[A] SOUTHCOM's total number of headquarters' personnel provided to us 
was approximate; thus, the 3 percent in this table is also 
approximate. Further, percentages in this table have been rounded. 

[End of table] 

Both AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM have indicated that they currently do not 
have a specific requirement for the number of embedded interagency 
personnel at their commands but would benefit from additional 
personnel. However, limited resources at other federal agencies have 
prevented interagency personnel from participating in the numbers 
desired. In February 2009, we reported that AFRICOM initially expected 
to fill 52 positions with personnel from other government agencies. 
[Footnote 6] However, State officials told us that they would not 
likely be able to provide employees to fill the positions requested by 
AFRICOM because they were already facing a 25 percent shortfall in 
midlevel personnel. Similarly, SOUTHCOM has identified the need for 
around 40 interagency personnel, but had only filled 20 of those 
positions as of July 2010. According to SOUTHCOM officials, it has 
taken about 3 years to fill its interagency positions because of lack 
of funding at the command or the inability of partners to provide 
personnel. Because many agencies have limited personnel and resources, 
SOUTHCOM and its interagency partners have, on occasion, developed 
other means to gain stakeholder input and perspectives. For example, 
in lieu of embedding a Department of the Treasury (Treasury) official 
at the command, SOUTHCOM and Treasury decided that providing a local 
Treasury representative with access to the command and establishing a 
memorandum of understanding would serve to improve communication and 
coordination among the organizations. 

AFRICOM May Not Fully Leverage Expertise of Interagency Partners: 

While embedding interagency personnel into a DOD command can be an 
effective means of coordination, interagency personnel serving at 
AFRICOM may not be fully leveraged for their expertise within the 
organization. AFRICOM officials told us that it is a challenge to 
determine where in the command to include interagency personnel. For 
example, an embedded interagency staff member stated that AFRICOM 
initially placed him in a directorate unrelated to his skill set, and 
he initiated a transfer to another directorate that would better 
enable him to share his expertise. Moreover, several embedded 
interagency officials said that there is little incentive to take a 
position at AFRICOM because it will not enhance one's career position 
upon return to the original agency after the rotation. 

Difficulties with leveraging interagency personnel are not unique to 
AFRICOM. We have previously reported that personnel systems often do 
not recognize or reward interagency collaboration, which could 
diminish interest in serving in interagency efforts.[Footnote 7] 
AFRICOM officials said that it would be helpful to have additional 
interagency personnel at the command, but they understand that 
staffing limitations, resource imbalances, and lack of career 
progression incentives for embedded staff from other federal agencies 
may limit the number of personnel who can be brought in from these 
agencies. Despite challenges, AFRICOM has made some efforts that could 
improve interagency collaboration within the command, such as 
expanding its interagency orientation process. Last fall, the command 
conducted an assessment of the embedded interagency process to analyze 
successes and identify lessons learned, including recommendations on 
how to integrate interagency personnel into command planning and 
operations. In July 2010, AFRICOM stated that it had established an 
interagency collaborative forum to assess, prioritize, and implement 
the recommendations from the assessment. 

Haiti Response Revealed Weaknesses in SOUTHCOM's Organizational 
Structure: 

SOUTHCOM's recent experience in responding to the Haiti earthquake 
serves as a reminder that while interagency collaboration is important 
in addressing security challenges, DOD's commands must also be 
prepared to respond to a wide range of contingencies, including large-
scale disaster relief operations. While our work found that SOUTHCOM 
has taken significant steps in building partnerships to enhance and 
sustain collaboration, the command faces challenges preparing for the 
divergent needs of its potential missions. SOUTHCOM must have an 
organizational structure that is prepared for military contingencies 
and that is also effective in supporting interagency partners in 
meeting challenges such as corruption, crime, and poverty. 

In 2008, SOUTHCOM developed an organizational structure to improve 
collaboration with interagency stakeholders, which included a civilian 
deputy to the commander, interagency partners embedded into key 
leadership positions, and a directorate focused on sustaining 
partnerships. While SOUTHCOM's organizational structure was designed 
to facilitate interagency collaboration, the 2010 Haiti earthquake 
response revealed weaknesses in this structure that initially hindered 
its efforts to conduct a large-scale military operation. For example, 
the command's structure lacked a division to address planning for 
military operations occurring over 30 days to 1 year in duration. In 
addition, SOUTHCOM had suboptimized some core functions that were 
necessary to respond to large-scale contingencies. For example, 
SOUTHCOM's logistics function was suboptimized because it was placed 
under another directorate in the organizational structure rather than 
being its own core function. As a result, the command had difficulty 
planning for the required logistics support--including supply, 
maintenance, deployment distribution, health support, and engineering--
during the large-scale Haiti relief effort, which SOUTHCOM reported 
peaked at more than 20,000 deployed military personnel, about 2 weeks 
after the earthquake occurred (see figure 4). 

Figure 4: Reported Buildup of Military Forces Supporting Relief 
Efforts in Haiti as Part of Operation Unified Response in January 2010: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Date: January 16; 
Number of personnel: 5,040. 

Date: January 17; 
Number of personnel: 6,038. 

Date: January 18; 
Number of personnel: 11,706. 

Date: January 19; 
Number of personnel: 11,524. 

Date: January 20; 
Number of personnel: 12,963. 

Date: January 21; 
Number of personnel: 13,101. 

Date: January 22; 
Number of personnel: 13,656. 

Date: January 23; 
Number of personnel: 18,163. 

Date: January 24; 
Number of personnel: 17,850. 

Date: January 25; 
Number of personnel: 18,346. 

Date: January 26; 
Number of personnel: 18,325. 

Date: January 27; 
Number of personnel: 19,732. 

Date: January 28; 
Number of personnel: 20,934. 

Date: January 29; 
Number of personnel: 20,413. 

Date: January 30; 
Number of personnel: 20,320. 

Date: January 31; 
Number of personnel: 20,448. 

Source: SOUTHCOM. 

[End of figure] 

According to command officials, SOUTHCOM was able to integrate 
additional interagency and international partners into its 
headquarters as Haiti relief operations grew in scale; however, the 
command had not identified the military personnel augmentation 
required for a large contingency nor had it developed a plan to 
integrate military personnel into its headquarters structure. 
Ultimately, SOUTHCOM received 500 military augmentees to provide 
additional capabilities to its existing command staff of about 800, 
including an entire staff office from U.S. Northern Command, filling 
vital gaps in SOUTHCOM's ability to support operations in Haiti. 
However, augmented military personnel were not familiar with 
SOUTHCOM's organizational structure and did not initially understand 
where they could best contribute because many of the traditional joint 
staff functions were divided among SOUTHCOM's directorates. To address 
these challenges, SOUTHCOM's commander returned the command to a 
traditional joint staff structure while retaining elements from its 
2008 reorganization and plans to retain this structure for the 
foreseeable future.[Footnote 8] 

Our report made recommendations aimed at improving SOUTHCOM's ability 
to conduct the full range of military missions that may be required in 
the region, while balancing its efforts to support interagency 
partners in enhancing regional security and cooperation.[Footnote 9] 
DOD acknowledged the challenges it had faced and agreed with our 
recommendations. In its response, the department noted that SOUTHCOM's 
ability to respond to the Haiti crisis quickly was in part a by-
product of close, collaborative relationships developed with a range 
of U.S. government interagency partners over many years. 

AFRICOM Staff Could Benefit from More Comprehensive Training or 
Guidance on Working with Interagency Officials in Africa: 

AFRICOM, as a relatively new command engaged in capacity-building 
efforts, has emphasized the need to work closely with U.S. embassies 
to ensure that activities are consistent with U.S. foreign policy and 
to contribute to a unity of effort among interagency partners (see 
figure 5). In addition, the command has designated cultural awareness 
as a core competency for its staff. However, we found that some 
AFRICOM staff have limited knowledge about working with U.S. embassies 
and about cultural issues in Africa, and the training or guidance 
available to augment personnel expertise in these areas is limited. 
While AFRICOM has efforts under way to strengthen staff expertise in 
these areas, the limited knowledge among some staff puts AFRICOM at 
risk of being unable to fully leverage resources with U.S. embassy 
personnel, build relationships with African nations, and effectively 
carry out activities. 

Figure 5: AFRICOM Staff Work with Interagency and International 
Partners at a Pandemic Response Exercise in Uganda in 2009: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

AFRICOM emphasizes the importance of collaborating with its 
interagency partners, but some personnel's limited knowledge of 
working with U.S. embassies can impose burdens on embassies' staff who 
may be taken away from their assigned duties to help AFRICOM. For 
example, a U.S. embassy official in Uganda stated that AFRICOM 
personnel arrived in country with the expectations that the embassy 
would take care of basic cultural and logistical issues for them. 
Also, AFRICOM's Horn of Africa task force personnel have, at times, 
approached the Djiboutian government ministries directly with concepts 
for activities rather than following the established procedure of 
having the U.S. embassy in Djibouti initiate the contact. 
Additionally, while cultural awareness is a core competency for 
AFRICOM, the limited knowledge of some personnel in the command and 
its military service components regarding Africa cultural issues has 
occasionally led to difficulties in building relationships with 
African nations--such as when AFRICOM's task force distributed used 
clothing to local Djibouti villagers during Ramadan, which offended 
the Muslim population, or proposed drilling a well without considering 
how its placement could affect local clan relationships. 

While AFRICOM personnel and forces deploying for activities receive 
some training on working with interagency partners and on African 
cultural awareness--and efforts are under way to increase training for 
some personnel--our review of training presentations indicated that 
they were insufficient to adequately build the skills of its staff. 
AFRICOM officials told us that training includes Web courses and 
seminars, and that there are other training requirements for personnel 
deploying to Africa such as medical and cultural awareness training. 
Officials said, however, that while training is encouraged, it is not 
required, and that the command does not currently monitor the 
completion of training courses. Furthermore, officials from several 
AFRICOM components voiced a preference for more cultural training and 
capabilities. 

In our prior work on AFRICOM's Horn of Africa task force, we similarly 
reported that the task force's training on working with U.S. embassies 
was not shared with all staff, and cultural awareness training was 
limited.[Footnote 10] We recommended, and DOD agreed, that the 
Secretary of Defense direct AFRICOM to develop comprehensive training 
guidance or a program that augments assigned personnel's understanding 
of African cultural awareness and working with interagency partners. 
In addition, in our report on AFRICOM released today, we recommended 
that the Secretary of Defense direct AFRICOM, in consultation with 
State and USAID, to develop a comprehensive training program for staff 
and forces involved in AFRICOM activities that focuses on working with 
interagency partners and on cultural issues related to 
Africa.[Footnote 11] DOD agreed with the recommendation, describing 
some efforts that AFRICOM was taking and stating that the command will 
continue to develop and conduct training to improve its ability to 
work with embassies and other agencies. While our work on SOUTHCOM did 
not focus on workforce training, command personnel have expressed the 
need for more opportunities to improve their understanding of working 
in an interagency environment. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased 
to respond to any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee 
may have at this time. 

For future information regarding this statement, please contact John 
H. Pendleton at (202) 512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this statement. Key contributors to this 
statement are listed in appendix I. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

John H. Pendleton, (202) 512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Directors Stephen Caldwell and 
Jess Ford; Assistant Directors Patricia Lentini, Marie Mak, and 
Suzanne Wren; and Alissa Czyz, Richard Geiger, Dawn Hoff, Brandon 
Hunt, Farhanaz Kermalli, Arthur Lord, Tobin McMurdie, Jennifer Neer, 
Jodie Sandel, Leslie Sarapu, and Erin Smith made key contributions to 
this statement. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Defense Management: Improved Planning, Training, and Interagency 
Collaboration Could Strengthen DOD's Efforts in Africa. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-794]. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 
2010. 

Defense Management: U.S. Southern Command Demonstrates Interagency 
Collaboration, but Its Haiti Disaster Response Revealed Challenges 
Conducting a Large Military Operation. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-801]. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 
2010. 

National Security: Key Challenges and Solutions to Strengthen 
Interagency Collaboration. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-822T]. Washington, D.C.: June 9, 
2010. 

Defense Management: DOD Needs to Determine the Future of Its Horn of 
Africa Task Force. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-504]. Washington, D.C.: April 15, 
2010. 

Homeland Defense: DOD Needs to Take Actions to Enhance Interagency 
Coordination for Its Homeland Defense and Civil Support Missions. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-364]. Washington, D.C.: 
March 30, 2010. 

Interagency Collaboration: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight of 
National Security Strategies, Organizations, Workforce, and 
Information Sharing. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-904SP]. Washington, D.C.: September 
25, 2009. 

Military Training: DOD Needs a Strategic Plan and Better Inventory and 
Requirements Data to Guide Development of Language Skills and Regional 
Proficiency. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-568]. 
Washington, D.C.: June 19, 2009. 

Influenza Pandemic: Continued Focus on the Nation's Planning and 
Preparedness Efforts Remains Essential. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-760T]. Washington, D.C.: June 3, 
2009. 

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-679SP]. Washington, 
D.C.: May 27, 2009. 

Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and 
Interagency Coordination for the Commander's Emergency Response 
Program in Afghanistan. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-615]. Washington, D.C.: May 18, 
2009. 

Foreign Aid Reform: Comprehensive Strategy, Interagency Coordination, 
and Operational Improvements Would Bolster Current Efforts. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-192]. Washington, D.C.: 
April 17, 2009. 

Iraq and Afghanistan: Security, Economic, and Governance Challenges to 
Rebuilding Efforts Should Be Addressed in U.S. Strategies. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-476T]. Washington, D.C.: March 25, 
2009. 

Drug Control: Better Coordination with the Department of Homeland 
Security and an Updated Accountability Framework Can Further Enhance 
DEA's Efforts to Meet Post-9/11 Responsibilities. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-63]. Washington, D.C.: March 20, 
2009. 

Defense Management: Actions Needed to Address Stakeholder Concerns, 
Improve Interagency Collaboration, and Determine Full Costs Associated 
with the U.S. Africa Command. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-181]. Washington, D.C.: February 
20, 2009. 

Combating Terrorism: Actions Needed to Enhance Implementation of Trans-
Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-860]. Washington, D.C.: July 31, 
2008. 

Information Sharing: Definition of the Results to Be Achieved in 
Terrorism-Related Information Sharing Is Needed to Guide 
Implementation and Assess Progress. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-637T]. Washington, D.C.: July 23, 
2008. 

Force Structure: Preliminary Observations on the Progress and 
Challenges Associated with Establishing the U.S. Africa Command. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-947T]. Washington, 
D.C.: July 15, 2008. 

Highlights of a GAO Forum: Enhancing U.S. Partnerships in Countering 
Transnational Terrorism. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-887SP]. Washington, D.C.: July 2008. 

Stabilization and Reconstruction: Actions Are Needed to Develop a 
Planning and Coordination Framework and Establish the Civilian Reserve 
Corps. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-39]. Washington, 
D.C.: November 6, 2007. 

Homeland Security: Federal Efforts Are Helping to Alleviate Some 
Challenges Encountered by State and Local Information Fusion Centers. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-35]. Washington, D.C.: 
October 30, 2007. 

Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Stability 
Operations Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-549]. Washington, D.C.: May 31, 
2007. 

Combating Terrorism: Law Enforcement Agencies Lack Directives to 
Assist Foreign Nations to Identify, Disrupt, and Prosecute Terrorists. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-697]. Washington, D.C.: 
May 25, 2007. 

Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and 
Sustain Collaboration among Federal Agencies. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-15]. Washington, D.C.: October 21, 
2005. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] DOD designated AFRICOM fully operational on September 30, 2008. 

[2] GAO, Defense Management: U.S. Southern Command Demonstrates 
Interagency Collaboration, but Its Haiti Disaster Response Revealed 
Challenges Conducting a Large Military Operation, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-801] (Washington, D.C.: July 28, 
2010), and Defense Management: Improved Planning, Training, and 
Interagency Collaboration Could Strengthen DOD's Efforts in Africa, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-794] (Washington, D.C.: 
July 28, 2010). 

[3] GAO, Interagency Collaboration: Key Issues for Congressional 
Oversight of National Security Strategies, Organizations, Workforce, 
and Information Sharing, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-904SP] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 25, 
2009). 

[4] Guidance for Employment of the Force, May 2008. 

[5] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-794]. 

[6] GAO, Defense Management: Actions Needed to Address Stakeholder 
Concerns, Improve Interagency Collaboration, and Determine Full Costs 
Associated with the U.S. Africa Command, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-181] (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 20, 
2009). 

[7] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-904SP]. 

[8] The traditional joint staff headquarters organization generally 
includes directorates for manpower and personnel (J1), intelligence 
(J2), operations (J3), logistics (J4), plans (J5), communications 
system (J6), as well as additional directorates as deemed necessary. 

[9] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-801]. 

[10] GAO, Defense Management: DOD Needs to Determine the Future of Its 
Horn of Africa Task Force, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-504] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 15, 
2010). 

[11] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-794]. 

[End of section] 

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