Emma Manzi, Class of 2020, and U.S. Navy Fleet Scholar, spent her summer exploring the nexus of development and defense at the U.S. Embassy Indonesia in Jakarta.
I receive this question the most when I explain I am pursuing a Masters in Global Human Development at Georgetown University through the U.S. Navy Fleet Scholar Program. My answer is in line with what Marine General James Mattis stated in 2013: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.” Without a fundamental understanding of the role of development in promoting regional security and stability, duplicate efforts will lead to inefficient responses and support, ultimately undermining the objectives of the United States Government (USG).
As a first tour Navy Surface Warfare Officer, I deployed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG-91) with presence operations in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea, as well as theater security cooperation exercises during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Malaysia and CARAT Indonesia. I realized there is no clearer path to a “free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific region in which all nations are independent, strong, and prosperous” than through development.
The United States Government approach to a free and open Indo-Pacific region involves open and transparent markets unlocking private enterprise-led growth, the advancement of citizen-responsive governance adhering to rules-based order, and resilient networks of security partners capable of addressing shared threats. This approach requires a whole of government approach that must acknowledge the key roles of specific agencies in US foreign policy. Understanding these critical linkages is crucial to achieving regional objectives.
The Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report (IPSR) stresses preparedness, partnerships, and promotion of a networked region. Although these strategies address security cooperation and resilience against the erosion of international law-based norms, they do not equip partner nations to promote transparent and accountable governance within sovereign borders. USAID’s vision seeks to strengthen democratic systems, unlock private enterprise-led economic growth, and improve natural resource management. Addressing these three objectives help to bolster and encourage democracy where rampant exploitation of institutional weaknesses enables corruption and undermines democratic processes and citizen rights, ultimately endangering the long-term stability of US partner countries.
Indonesia is the intersection of a mutually supporting IPSR, with ideal USAID and DoS economic, governance, and development understanding of all the elements within the whole of government approach to reinforce the rules-based international order in South East Asia. The United States partnership with Indonesia is one of the most important to achieving and sustaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region. As the largest archipelagic nation in the world, Indonesia sits astride the Pacific and Indian oceans, the two main bodies of water and states within that encompass the Indo-Pacific region from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India. Its sovereignty over 17,000 islands plays a pivotal role in promoting regional stability, promoting maritime security, and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight. The largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia is the third-largest democracy and the most populous Muslim-majority nation. Celebrating its 74th birthday this August, Indonesia is a young democracy that has overcome an extractive colonial legacy, military occupation, and an oppressive regime to significantly reduce poverty and attain the seventh largest economy in the world (by purchasing power parity).
Indonesia is both a recipient of overseas development assistance as well as a regional donor. Although it has surpassed the threshold for several international donors, USAID/Indonesia remains an active partner in development. As a Fleet Scholar, I have had the distinct opportunity to work in the U.S. Embassy Jakarta within the USAID/Indonesia Program Office. The USAID/Indonesia portfolio is as diverse as the nation itself, with Democratic Governance and Resilience, Environmental, Health, and Human Capacity and Partnerships programming. These programs include activities that enable Indonesians to counter violent extremism; support legal access for minorities; combat neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS; strengthen marine and land conservation; and expand scientific research opportunities.
While at USAID/Indonesia, I assisted with donor mapping in support of Phase 0 of the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS), which will guide USAID/Indonesia for the next five years and helped identify the required assessments and reports needed to inform the new CDCS. I helped prepare the itinerary for a Congressional delegation visit that included USAID activities in health, countering violent extremism, and doctoral research. I visited the ASEAN Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), which “aims to facilitate cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States and with the United Nations and international organizations for disaster management and emergency response in ASEAN region,” an integral player on the Indo-Pacific region’s journey to self-reliance. I accompanied a site visit to a shelter at the forefront of deradicalizing returning ISIS fighters and their families as well as those exposed to radical ideologies within Indonesia. These experiences proved invaluable to my professional development and my understanding of the Indo-Pacific region.
As DoD continues forward with preparedness, partnerships, and promotion of a networked region, they must acknowledge USAID programming and activities to prevent parallel lines of effort and instead complement existing programs. Understanding of critical linkages between development and military capacity-building can coexist without informing the other, but this comes at a cost to the American taxpayer and the communities the USG hopes to support on their journey to self-reliance.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.