Simons Center First Anniversary Report
Editor’s Note: The Simons Center celebrates its first anniversary in April 2011. As part of this recognition, the CGSC Foundation published an article in the April 2011 edition of the CGSC Foundation News.
by Theodore E. Strickler
Nearly 200 years ago Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on a journey of exploration and discovery into the vastness of the nation’s new territory acquired by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The notes, observations and reports of their findings and discoveries along their route provided the most reliable description of the geography and the first accurate maps of the area. For those following in their footsteps, this information was essential in helping to find their way.
Today a different, but no less important, journey of study and investigation is underway on the banks of the Missouri River first surveyed by Lewis and Clark two centuries ago. Here at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., home to the 130-year-old U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Command and General Staff College Foundation established a new center in April 2010 to look at one of the most vexing problems of government today: interagency coordination. The CGSC Foundation’s actions recognized the increasing requirement for more effective interagency coordination at all levels of government operations, but none more critical than those at the operational and tactical levels where strategic policy decisions are transformed into concrete action.
Funded with a generous gift from Mr. Ross Perot, the Command and General Staff College Foundation chartered the Colonel Arthur D. Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation to investigate, study and analyze the complexities of interagency coordination at the operational and tactical levels of interagency activity.
Building on Fort Leavenworth’s history and legacy of academic inquiry, the Simons Center’s mission is to facilitate broader, more effective cooperation within the federal government below the strategic or policy level through research, analysis and study of interagency methods, procedures and organization. By publishing its findings, conclusions and case studies of specific examples of interagency cooperation, the Simons Center seeks to engage with other organizations and institutions including the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College to sponsor discourse, inform discussion, influence educational programs and help to develop the civilian and military interagency leaders of tomorrow.
The Simons Center’s research and analysis efforts are focused on generating solutions to interagency challenges. It seeks to identify root causes of interagency successes and failures, thereby informing the development of educational programs and providing recommendations and solutions to operational interagency problems. Drawing on the real world experience of those engaged in interagency operations, the Simons Center works to capture their insights about what contributes to effective interagency coordination. It publishes those accounts and findings in its semi-annual InterAgency Journal (IAJ) and in a regular series of InterAgency Papers and InterAgency Essays.
In working to expand the body of knowledge and understanding of interagency operations, the Simons Center partners with other organizations to jointly sponsor conferences and seminars dealing with interagency coordination issues. In December 2010, it cosponsored with the Business Executives for National Security (BENS) a seminar at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City on the topic of “Interagency Collaboration in the War on Terrorism.” Two months later, it co-hosted with the Combined Arms Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace a symposium titled “Interagency Transitions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Beyond,” at the newly constructed headquarters of the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. The Simons Center is also partnered with the CGSC Foundation and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College to cosponsor a summit on interagency education to be conducted this summer at Fort Leavenworth from June 15-16.
The Simons Center welcomes visits of senior level officials who are interested in learning more about the Simons Center’s mission, programs and activities. Since its opening in April 2010, these visitors have included Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback (now Kansas Governor); Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins; Ambassador John Herbst, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, U.S. Department of State (now, Director, Center for Complex Operations); Lt. General Guy Swan, Commander, U.S. Army North; Gen. (Ret.) Gordon Sullivan, President, Association of the U.S. Army; and Ambassador (Ret.) John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.
Other Simons Center activities include an annual writing competition for students and faculty at the Command and General Staff College. These awards are designed to encourage professional scholarship that advances the body of interagency knowledge and promotes the development of interagency leaders. The faculty award is for original papers examining any aspect of interagency cooperation, coordination or collaboration at the operational or tactical level of engagement. First place winners receive an award of $250 with the paper being published in the InterAgency Journal. The next faculty writing competition will be announced in June 2011. The student interagency writing competition is open to all students enrolled in the Command and General Staff College ILE in-residence course, beginning with ILE Class 11-01 in August 2010. To enter, a student must submit a thesis-length manuscript on an interagency topic. The author of the winning paper receives a personal plaque and cash award of $500, and his/her name engraved on a plaque for permanent display in the Lewis and Clark Center.
The Simons Center plans to establish an intern program with local colleges and universities. This program will provide an opportunity for qualified students to gain practical work experience supporting the research and study of interagency coordination as a component of their academic studies. Interested students may contact the Simons Center at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.