Stavridis discusses ‘smart power’ with Florida Guardsmen, students

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Although the U.S. military and its NATO allies are a capable and lethal force, “hard power” or military might, isn’t the only option in today’s environment, the commander of European Command said March 15.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who is also NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, spoke to members of the Florida National Guard and students from Flagler College here about the importance of “smart power.”

He encouraged the Guardsmen in attendance to also focus on what he called “soft power” skills. He  challenged them to read and study to understand other cultures and learn to speak other languages. He also suggested using social networks to understand and connect with people around the world.

“We are part of an organization that exists around the world, but only eight percent speak a second language,” he said.

“Smart power” is the term Stavridis used to describe the combination of hard power and soft power.

He outlined this vision in his four main approaches to the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan – protecting the people of Afghanistan, communicating effectively with the people of Afghanistan, using a comprehensive private/public approach involving several different agencies and organizations and training the Afghan security forces so they can take the lead.

“You have to deliver security, so you can enable prosperity,” Stavridis said.

He pointed to the Balkans – where a military force of about 30,000 decreased to a presence of 1,800 in 10 years – as an example of how the steady application of efforts of the global community can lead to progress.

“I am cautiously optimistic we are moving in the right direction in Afghanistan, but we have a long year ahead of us,” Stavridis said.

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