State Department Foreign Policy Advisors Integrate Diplomacy and Defense

5 minutes read time
U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral John C. Aquilino and POLAD William “Dave” Duff participate in the kava ceremony with Fiji’s Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto and Captain (Navy) Humphrey Tawake.
U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral John C. Aquilino and POLAD William “Dave” Duff participate in the kava ceremony with Fiji’s Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto and Captain (Navy) Humphrey Tawake.

State Department Foreign Policy Advisors Integrate Diplomacy and Defense

In a world with increasingly complex political and asymmetric security challenges, synchronizing interagency resources along with bridging diplomacy and defense remains vital for U.S. foreign policy and protection of U.S. interests. The work of the Department of State’s Foreign Policy Advisors (POLADs) is invaluable for our interagency colleagues who serve on the implementation end of policy. The Department of State, and R. Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, recently congratulated U.S. diplomats William Duff and Joanne Cummings on behalf of the Department and the American people for their hard work and dedicated service as recipients of the 2018 Robert D. Murphy Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) of the Year Award. The Department of State provides over 75 POLADs to mid- to senior-level positions in the Department of Defense from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to each Geographic Combatant Command, with about one third serving in overseas assignments. POLADs provide a direct State Department perspective to military operations and ensure commanders and other military staff are operationally enhanced from the diplomatic expertise of Foreign Service Officers. 

Mr. Duff served as POLAD to U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLEET) in Hawaii and is the recipient of the Senior-Level Award. PACFLEET is the world’s largest fleet command and is responsible for safeguarding U.S. national interests and protecting freedom of the seas for all nations from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.  Mr. Duff’s work at PACFLEET significantly enhanced the command’s relationship with the Department of State and enabled whole-of-government efforts to fight and win the battle of great power competition and to strengthen U.S. relationships with our Indo-Pacific treaty allies, strategic partners, and friends. His diligent coordination of naval activities with foreign diplomats abroad and U.S. officials at home ensured that PACFLEET generated the maximum return on investment during cooperative naval deployments with allies and partners. 

POLAD William “Dave” Duff visits the Republic of Korea along with Rear Admiral Charles Brown, U.S. Navy.

Mr. Duff also provided U.S. naval officers with a timely and relevant education on diplomacy, the central whole-of-government role of embassies abroad, and the interagency policy development process. Because of his work, more nations are vocally supporting the importance of international law in the resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Indo-Pacific and European leaders are supporting their words with deeds, such as freedom of navigation operations and transits of the Taiwan Strait, and more governments are revising their defense guidelines to highlight the importance of great power competition and the imperative of upholding the international rules-based order to secure peace and prosperity.

POLAD Joanne Cummings with Chargé d’affairs Joey Hood during a visit to Ninewa Province.

Ms. Cummings served as POLAD to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in Kuwait, and is the recipient of the Mid-Level Award. CJTF-OIR is the military headquarters of the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) set up by the US Central Command in 2014 to disrupt, degrade, and destroy ISIS and prevent its reemergence. It is composed of US military forces and personnel from over 30 countries. At CJTF-OIR, Ms. Cummings’ outstanding regional knowledge and experience, Arabic-language fluency, interagency contacts, and personal dedication substantially improved LTG Paul LaCamera and other senior leaders’ grasp of the broad trans-regional foreign policy context of their operations and strongly contributed to the defeat of the ISIS core, along with the disruption of transregional ISIS facilitators and external operations.

Her presence within the command group kept U.S. foreign policy goals at the forefront of considerations and significantly shaped CJTF-OIR analysis and planning. Ms. Cummings was an integral part of CJTF-OIR planning and risk assessment for the closure of Consulate General Basrah after violent street protests. She also guided CJTF-OIR's role in protecting displaced Syrians and Iraqis and facilitating their voluntary, safe, and dignified return home despite the many challenges their displacement posed for national and regional authorities, diplomatic and donor efforts, and community security.

POLAD Joanne Cummings with Lieutenant General Paul Funk and Lieutenant General LaCamera during a battlefield visit in Iraq.

The Robert D. Murphy award was established in 2012 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by individual POLADs. The award is named after Ambassador Robert Murphy, who helped to plan Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, and whose careful negotiations with General Henri Giraud and other French leaders in North Africa saved thousands of Allied lives. Ambassador Murphy is the spiritual father of the POLAD program, and today’s POLADs follow in his footsteps and in those of other WWII and Cold War-era diplomats who helped to both win the war and build the subsequent peace. We thank them for their distinguished service and their diligence toward enhancing the interagency capabilities of our Department of Defense colleagues

About the Author: Andrew Strike is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.