> Vol. 5, No 1. 2014 > Establishing a Conceptual Framework for Interagency Coordination at U.S. Southern Command

Joanna Gutierrez Winters
Establishing a Conceptual Framework for Interagency Coordination at U.S. Southern Command

10 2014

Given the U.S. government’s current resource constraints U.S. government agencies are examining ways to reduce costs and leverage current resources. Agencies focusing on expanding interagency initiatives must seek ways to become more cost efficient. Interagency coordination is a challenging task complicated by diverse agencies’ different and sometimes competing cultures, priorities, strategies, goals, plans and incentives. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has followed the progress of interagency coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. State Department and other agencies. In several studies, GAO identifies four key areas that could improve interagency coordination: developing and implementing overarching strategies; creating collaborative organizations; developing a well-trained workforce; and sharing/ integrating national security information. U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), one of DOD’s six regional Combatant Commands, is taking an active role in interagency coordination. The threats in SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility for the most part do not require a military response3, SOUTHCOM has leveraged the interagency community to accomplish its mission, especially in the areas of humanitarian assistance and counter-narcotics. Considering defense budget cuts, synergizing interagency capabilities at the military operational level, at the Combatant Commands for example, helps reduce duplication of effort among agencies and maximizes use of limited U.S. government resources. SOUTHCOM is thus well-positioned to further the interagency process and create a more solid foundation for establishing an interagency coordination framework.