140211-N-ZZ999-084 NEWPORT, R.I. (Feb. 11, 2014) Former senior Department of Defense officials Dov Zakheim (center) and Barry Pavel (right) speak to students at the U.S. Naval War College’s (NWC) National Security Decision Making (NSDM) final practitioner session in Newport, R.I. Retired Amb. John Cloud (left), national security affairs, served as the moderator for the panel discussion that was focused on force planning, strategy and budgets. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Ohl/Released)
From U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Feb. 12, 2014
NEWPORT, R.I. – Former senior Department of Defense officials Dov Zakheim and Barry Pavel served as panelists for the U.S. Naval War College’s (NWC) National Security Decision Making (NSDM) final practitioner session, on Feb. 11.
U.S. students of the College of Naval Warfare and international students of the Naval Command College were joined by NWC faculty members in attending the force planning discussion which focused on strategy and budgets.
The session provided an opportunity for students to hear from former senior DOD officials about how the interaction of strategic and budgetary factors can impact force planning decisions, including what influenced the process and how their efforts were affected by political realities.
“One of the primary objectives of this session is to understand the 'guns vs. butter' tradeoffs in the current defense and national budget and how senior officials must navigate between competing spending priorities,” said national security affairs professor Hayat Alvi, who helped coordinate the session.
Zakheim, currently a senior fellow at the CNA Corporation and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, brought his insights from past senior level positions including former undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and foreign policy advisor.
“One of things we stressed if your predecessor had a good idea, don’t ditch it because he or she is no longer there,” said Zakheim. “Stick with the good ideas, that’s a key element of leadership and if you do those two things, if you are nimble enough to deal with uncertainty and yet you take the best of what came before you, you’ll do quite well.”
Pavel’s past positions include serving as the special assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy and strategy on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, serving both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Currently vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, he wanted students to take away that they need to use their imaginations in addition to their expertise in dealing with today’s fast changing world.
Pavel said for those students who will help guide the national security establishment, this is crucial “to ensure that we can leverage these changes to our national advantage and to that of our allies and partners.”
Zakheim also offered advice to students regarding how to approach international partners.
“We need to recognize that our allies look at the world differently and don’t particularly want to be like us, they want to be with us,” said Zakheim. “If our leaders understand that, then I think they will be extremely successful working with their counterparts.”