Videos & Speeches

I want to call my colleagues’ attention to the important work that is being done in heartland to educate the next generation of military leadership at the Command & General Staff College. The CGSC is the intellectual center of the U.S. Army and has trained many of our Nation’s legendary leaders: Generals Marshall, MacArthur, Patton, Eisenhower, Arnold, and Bradley. Today, the college continues to prepare a new generation of leaders who are tasked with protecting our country from threats here at home and abroad, around the world.

The 21st century, national security challenges we face are often complex and require the cooperation of several Federal agencies. It is not uncommon for officials from the Department of State to be working alongside the Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense on the same project. From the provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan to responding to hurricanes or manmade disasters, the capability of agencies to work together is vital to the success of this mission. By working together and learning from previous mistakes, our government will become better prepared to keep our country safe and secure.

To improve coordination within agencies tasked with our national security, the Command and General Staff College Foundation, under the leadership of retired Colonel Bob Ulin, established the Arthur D. Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Thanks to a very generous financial gift from Ross Perot, the center was created last April and named after Mr. Perot’s good friend, retired Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, who led a rescue mission of U.S. Special Forces to free American prisoners in Vietnam in 1970. The Simons Center focuses on generating solutions to challenges often encountered when government agencies must work together. By drawing on real-world experience, the Simons Center works to facilitate broader and more effective cooperation within our government at the operational and tactical levels through research, analysis, publications, and outreach.

The center is also actively engaged in working with Members of Congress. Most recently, the center has been working with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which I am a member, and on legislation to help facilitate better communication and coordination among personnel in the national security and homeland security fields.

The Interagency Personnel Rotation Act is scheduled to be considered in committee tomorrow and would give security professionals the opportunity to work alongside one another in a different agency for a period of time. The bill reminds me of the old saying “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” By giving staff the opportunity to work within another agency—to walk within his shoes—I imagine perspective will change and cooperation will increase. If the legislation is approved by Congress, the Simons Center will play a role in implementing these policies.

In addition to offering policy recommendations, the center also partners with several organizations to host conferences focused on how to improve interagency coordination. For example, the center recently cohosted a symposium on interagency transitions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond with the Combined Arms Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace. Conferences such as these help provide senior government officials a helpful forum to further analyze ongoing challenges and develop practical solutions.

I would like to thank the center’s executive director, Ted Strickler, who joined the center after a 30-year career in the State Department, for his hard work over the past year to get the center up and running. I also wish to recognize retired Colonel Bob Ulin of the Command and General Staff College Foundation for his ongoing dedication to this important initiative. Under the Colonel’s leadership, the foundation has successfully supported our country’s oldest and largest military staff college in its mission to educate the next generation of our military leaders.

Finally, I urge my colleagues to take a closer look at the valuable work taking place at the Simons Center. We all recognize the importance of improving our government’s ability to harness the strength of its various agencies. By promoting interagency cooperation, the Simons Center is helping to strengthen our national security capabilities so that our country and its citizens are better prepared for their future.