The Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Global Center for Security Cooperation (GCSC) held a Consortium Directors’ Conference, Jul. 10-12, at the nearby Monterey Hyatt, adjacent to the NPS campus where the GCSC is headquartered.
The conference brought together leadership of the different consortium members for the opportunity to collaborate, network and exchange perspectives on a wide range of topics.
“This conference is a great event,” said GCSC Director and Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies, Dr. James J. Wirtz. “It brings together much of the U.S. international engagement community and other U.S. organizations to talk about our international engagement activity as an enterprise-wide activity. It provides a wonderful opportunity to get together and network, and get to know each other’s capabilities.”
As part of the conference, attendees were able to present their organizations, present concerns, ideas, as well as ask questions of the guest speakers, which included Chief of Staff in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OSD)for Policy, Mr. Pete Verga; and Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Principal Director for Strategy, Mr. Scott Schless,
“This conference also provides us with a wonderful opportunity to hear about current policy issues, goals, plans and objectives from OSD and DSCA,” said Wirtz. “We’re very honored and pleased to have these speakers to address our group this morning.”
Joking about the gloomy Monterey summer weather, Verga gave his opening remarks starting with OSD’s new strategic guidance issued in January of this year. He said that the guidance came from the President and the Secretary of Defense’s recognition that we are in a critical point in our national security strategy stemming from the drawdown from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the challenges brought on by deficit reduction goals.
“We have to adapt,” said Verga. “We have to be more agile and more flexible … [And] have to look at programs in a very strict light and make some really hard choices.”
He said that it was an opportunity for the DOD to become rebalanced, and refocus attention on emerging issues in other regions around the globe that are important to the U.S.’ strategic outlook, and to do this, the nation had to focus on low-cost, small footprint approaches.
Verga also noted that one of the ways to achieve this was to improve curricula in military education, military preparedness in management and disaster relief operations, and to modify existing programs.
“We need to change,” said Verga. “National security activities must be aligned and re-teaching the same lessons will not cut it.”
Verga said that he knew that the consortium directors were innovative and resourceful enough to meet these challenges and that having this event was a great way to address any questions directed at his office.
Conference attendees also got the opportunity to listen to DSCA Director for Strategy Scott Schless who gave an update on the current state of the organization.
“The community has been doing very well,” said Schless. “We have made great strides in the last three or four years to improve our responsiveness to the customer and the challenges we may face in the future.”
Schless said that DSCA continued its duty of managing the community, working with hundreds of countries on a daily basis and linking stakeholders globally. He echoed Pete Verga in the importance of improving flexibility, adaptability, and agility in the security cooperation process.
GCSC Executive Director Tom Ellzey gave an overview of the mission of the GCSC and also spoke about what the GCSC is and is not. He gave a detailed account of the consortium’s global reach, the services it provides, the benefits members have and other aspects of the GCSC.
Established in 2006, the GCSC was created by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, to centralize oversight and coordinate, integrate and de-conflict the activities and capabilities of international education providers in the area of international security cooperation. The center helps the member institutions share information, faculty and other resources in support of International Partner Education activities.