Episode 2: SOUTHCOM And US Diplomacy In Venezuela And Colombia

Amb. McCarthy: (00:20) Today we have admiral James Stavridis and Ambassador William Brownfield. When Jim Stavridis was the commander of US Southern Command, Bill Brownfield was the US ambassador to Venezuela, then the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia. They forged a strong partnership in tackling the drug war in Colombia, including an extraordinary hostage rescue of three Americans. They also faced the machinations and subversive activities of president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, including his government's complicity in the drug flow to the United States. I know them well, having worked with both of them during my time as senior advisor and special coordinator for Venezuela. Jim Stavridis served in the U.S. Navy for 37 years. After being commander at SouthCom, he became the 16th supreme allied commander at NATO. Today he is the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Bill Brownfield served in our diplomatic service for 39 years and was Ambassador three times following his assignment in Colombia. He served as Assistant Secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, managing a multibillion dollar portfolio to protect the United States by fighting drug trafficking and international crime. Gentlemen, our aim today is to talk mainly about your joint work in Colombia. Bill, let me start with you. What are our national security interests in Colombia and what were your major responsibilities as ambassador?

Amb. Brownfield:(01:46) I would suggest that our national security interests in Colombia today are exactly what they were when we started to develop Plan Colombia in 1999 and the year 2000. First, Columbia was at that time, and still is, the world's largest producer of cocaine. And we had a drug and transnational organized crime related interest. Second, at that time, one of the world's largest guerilla organizations, the FARC ,and a much smaller version, the ELN, represented not just a threat to Columbia, but a terrorism threat, to the United States and the Western Hemisphere. And third, and finally, Colombia was at that time, I suppose our third or fourth largest economic partner, in the western hemisphere. Those interests in 2000: drugs, terrorism, economy, and trade probably still represent our interest in Columbia today.

Amb. McCarthy: (02:57) Jim, what were your responsibilities as SOUTHCOM commander in the face of the cocaine flow out of Colombia and other countries nearby. And how did you partner with Bill and his team in stemming it?

Adm. Stavridis: (03:09) Let me start by just saying what a pleasure it is to have a chance to be in a conversation with two terrific ambassadors and especially a dear friend, Bill Brownfield. I treasure our work together in Colombia. In terms of the drug challenges that we faced there, I always say we ought to think about how to reverse engineer that drug flow so you can kill it most effectively and, and there are sort of three parts to it. There's the production side, the supply side, and of course that's where Bill Brownfield and his team were central to working with our Colombian partners to knock down the supply side. Then there is a demand side in the United States. We had to recognize that it's our market that drives this entire process. And of course here you have domestic political activities: medical treatment, education are incredibly important. I had very little to do with either supply or demand. As SOUTHCOM, my particular piece of this puzzle was transit—w hat happened in the middle. And that of course included flows not only from Colombia but from the entire Andean Ridge as well as through Central America, which becomes an immense field of collateral damage in the face of all this. Through Haiti, and other Caribbean islands face this. And all of that transit zone was a joint law enforcement and military responsibility. Law enforcement has the authority, Drug Enforcement Administration of course, but the military has the logistic muscle—the sensors, the surveillance, the ships. The Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West was the center of all that, Deborah, and that was my principal command, focused on that transit zone.

Amb. McCarthy: (05:07) The U.S. invested billions of dollars over many years into Colombia under Plan Colombia. Was this investment worth it and how did it advance our interests?

Amb. Brownfield: (05:17) Shall the diplomat start? By the way, there's no way that the Dean Admiral is going to get away by saying nice things about me without having to hear the same thing coming back at him. Deborah, for what it's worth, I have probably worked over the last 20 years with perhaps twenty different combatant commanders. We are today speaking to and with the best of all those that I worked with, so take that you academic, you. Back to the question from the good doctor McCarthy. May I offer the following statement, and either one of you could then challenge me on this as well as anyone who wishes to listen to this podcast. Plan Colombia has been around from January of 2000 until now, January of 2018. That's 18 years. We have put somewhere in the vicinity of 11 billion of the US taxpayers' dollars into this effort. By any, and I literally mean any measurable standard, Colombia today is a better country and a better place than it was in January of 2000. Meanwhile, over the last 18 years, Colombia has become the closest friend and closest ally of the United States of America in all of Latin America. I am proud of my personal association and of the government of the United States commitment to this project, for the last 18 years.

Adm. Stavridis: (07:04) Extremely well said. Let me add, because life is kind of compared to what, I'll give you two comparisons. One picks up a thread of what Ambassador Brownfield just said. When I was at SouthCom from 2006 to 2009, and people would ask me, what's Colombia like? I would say, well, you should read this book, by a Canadian diplomat. It's called the saddest country. It's a very, very appropriately written description of Colombia in 2004, 2005, and 2006. As I was arriving there, it was rape, torture, murder, drug cartels dominating the government. It could not have been worse. It was in many ways the saddest country. Today, just this last weekend, I opened up the New York Times list of 20 hotspots to go to around the world, the best places to vacation. Two of them are in Colombia. Cartagena and of course Bogota. And by the way, I would say Medellin, which used to be an absolute center of the drug cartels was recently awarded the most innovative city in the world by the United Nations. That comparison that, that Bill outlined and I tried to fill in a little bit on, is really a remarkable one. Here's the other comparison, and this is a sad one for the United States of America. While we were putting $11 billion, and by the way, we never had more than 600 soldiers actually stationed in Colombia. In that same period of time, what else were we doing around the world? Well, we were in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had 250,000 soldiers deployed. We had tens of thousands grievously wounded. We had 10,000 killed in action. We spent arguably $2 to $3 trillion. Both of those countries, I would argue, are worse off than they were. So, the point Bill is making about the success story here is so powerful and we ought to be studying it. And I hope those who are listening to this podcast to understand and learn and be educated will spend more time learning about Colombia. Let me conclude by giving you kind of a middle case, that we don't talk a lot about in international diplomacy, that I think is not quite as successful as Colombia, but getting in that direction, and that's the Balkans. If you look back on the Balkans 20 years ago and you see, 8,000 men and boys killed over a few days in Srebrenica, so you see a region on fire, hundreds of thousands killed, millions pushed across borders. It looked somewhat like Colombia. Today, flash forward, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania are members of NATO. The European Union is engaged deeply. These economies are working. When people want to solve a problem, they don't reach for a hunting rifle, they reach for a telephone. We can do this as diplomats. We can do it when we do it with development, diplomacy and defense working together. I think that's the lesson of Colombia, the lesson of the Balkans, and part of the missteps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Amb. McCarthy: (10:22) What I'd like to do now is turn to a major win that both of you worked on, and it was a very tough situation, which was the rescue of US citizens Mark Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes. These were three Northrop Grumman contractors who were working to find illegal fields of coca in Colombia. Their plane crashed landed in the jungle after the engine failed and they were captured by the FARC. I remember when this happened as I was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the INL [International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs] bureau and we sent our SAR [Search and Rescue] team to see if we could rescue them, but it was too late. They were already in the hands of the FARC. The FARC executed the American pilot and the other Colombian passengers. These three men remained hostages for more than five years and were finally rescued in 2008. So that, just to give the context and background. How did you both work together on this issue in your time, respectively, under each of your commands?

Amb. Brownfield: (11:18) Debra, you are correct to note that, at the end of the day, and we're going to talk about a successful operation, we should never forget that for two families it came too late. The Tommy Janis family and the Luis Alcides family, both of whom were in fact executed by the FARC, shortly after the plane crashed. In an incredibly heroic landing by the pilot, Tommy Janis put the aircraft down, with no power whatsoever, in a jungle clearing that was about the size of a football field. With no power, no ability to brake, and no controls other than what the wind gave him. He also had the misfortune of landing right on top of a FARC operational unit, which was on top of these guys within five minutes of their crash landing. And, as you correctly note, the INL section in Colombia had a rescue mission on site, and think about this, a crash landing in the middle of the jungle, they had a rescue mission on site within 30 minutes, without even knowing for sure where these guys were. But that was 20 minutes too late because of the misfortune. How do the combatant commander and I, work this particular problem set? First a reminder, if necessary to the Dean Admiral, we had begun doing this in a fairly intense way about six or seven months before the actual rescue operation, and this is not widely known, but we did in fact get pretty good intelligence at the end of the year 2007, beginning of the year 2008 and we tried to work an operation, by which, jointly with both U.S. and Colombian input, we would be able to locate the hostages, our three plus any others that were part of the group and find a way to get them out. I mention this because this is fairly important, from my perspective, in terms of the relationship that the Admiral and I had at that time. I am not a military expert. And there came a point sometime around February where I lost my tactical patience and I was ready to really push the button to goose up the Colombians to make something happen. Instead of doing that, I called the commander of the United States Southern Command and he said to me, more or less in the most gentle way possible, "settle down bozo these things take their time. I suspect we'll have an answer within the next couple of hours." And even furthermore, he said, "don't get your hopes up that we're actually going to find them there." And what happened in February of 2008? I had my answer within the next couple of hours. And sure enough, they were not there. That is how a military man diplomatically deals with an anxious ambassador, who in turn learns the lesson in February of 2008, which he's then able to apply much more aggressively in June and July of 2008. Listen to what the military guy tells you on military matters.

Adm. Stavridis: (15:03) I will tell you from the minute I got to the command in 2006, rescuing the hostages was in fact, and in practice, our top priority. And we developed plans constantly. We worked intel hard. We really worked with, I think the heroes of this thing, are first and foremost the Colombians, who were the ones who rescued them. Secondly, were the U.S. Intelligence Community, and I don't want to broach into classified here, but just simply to say that, extraordinary work, from everything from overhead sensors to on the ground HumInt. This was really an all team effort by the Intel Community. And we in the military looked at our role as providing the muscle, the logistics, the protection the, in the end, the special forces that potentially could go in there and do that. My lead was Brigadier General Charlie Cleveland, who the ambassador will remember well. A fluent Spanish speaker, deeply experienced in the region, Green Beret, one star commander of Special Operations Command South. And I remember around the time that Bill is describing, Charlie came to me and he said, "Admiral, if we're ever going to find these guys, we need to stop fishing and start hunting." And what he meant was, we needed to be much more aggressive in acting on the intelligence we were getting, both from the Colombians and the Intel Community. Again, without verging into highly classified material, we ended up at one point with a significant military, U.S. military operation that did in fact come very, very close. And it was the absolute best special operators in the Armed Forces of the United States. And I'll stop there. That did not succeed. But it was very, very close. We built on that, and here, this is where I really credit the Ambassador and the embassy. As the Colombians developed their plan, Jaque, and came to us asking for some support kinds of things we could do and we were able to provide those. But the plan itself was brilliant. It was a marvelous ruse. It had an almost Trojan Horse like quality to it. It was superbly executed, again, by the Colombians. There was U.S. military support. But, at the end of the day, as I assess that operation, I give most credit by far to the Colombian military. Next to the U.S. Intelligence Community. Next to our embassy for the liaison that pulled all this together. And then, I would say SOUTHCOM had an important role, but certainly not a definitive role. I'll close by saying one thing I thought we did very well, that's an important part of any of this kind of mission is, we were in charge of the repatriation. And, so when we got ahold of Keith, Mark and Tom, we flew them to San Antonio with Major General Keith Huber. And this a very sophisticated process. The U.S. Army runs it, that has psychological elements to it, family elements to it, media control, intelligence debriefing, all of it. Just fabulous work. There, I think I would say U.S. Southern Command working through US Army South did a pretty good job. And then, just I'll close, and there's a smile on my face, for the podcasters who can only hear my voice, like Bill I will say it was among the happiest moments of my life when they were rescued. And then we brought them to Miami, to U.S. Southern Command, and we did a big barbecue at the headquarters there, and 2000 people got to go up and shake their hand. And they were so humble and thankful and kept telling us that we were the heroes, which we were not. First and foremost, they were the heroes who survived that experience and came out so intact. It was a good example of how the interagency and the international community can solve tactical problems. Just as we were discussing solving the strategic challenges of Colombia moments ago.

Amb. McCarthy: (19:41) I'm sure our audience can hear in both your voices how much this meant, this whole operation meant, and what it took to pull it off.

Amb. Brownfield: (19:49) Before we move off of this, Deb, I have to get out one more positive comment. The Jaque operation was in fact a deception operation. The Colombian Army then inserted a helicopter at that location filled with internationalists, all of whom, of course, were members of the Colombian Armed Forces. And as we worked our way through this, for two weeks before the operation occurred, I have to acknowledge, I got a little bit nervous. I had asked my people to get in there and talk to the people who were supposed to be playing these roles. One was supposed to sound like an Australian, one was supposed to sound like a Brazilian, one was supposed to sound like a Lebanese guy. And I said, for God's sake, tell me if you think they can pull these off. I mean, you know, Spanish speaking Lebanese. They came back and said, yeah, yeah, we think we could do it. At that point I was about 50% there, but still only 50%. At one point, about three or four days before the operation and before we had the go ahead from the government of the United States of America to green light this operation, I called the commander of the U.S. Southern Command and I said, you know, I'm not sure I'm ready to say yes to this. I'm giving this at best a 50% chance of success. And his response, he said, "Hell, I think it's probably less than 50% likely to succeed. I put it at somewhere around 20%." But he said, "You're only looking at half of the problem set. I assess." He said, "the likelihood of harm to the hostages at being very close to zero because if it does not succeed, it is because the FARC has actually figured this out or they haven't fallen for it and the hostages will be 50 miles away by the time this helicopter and the rescue mission drops on the FARC location." When you put it that way, two days later when he and I were sitting in my crummy stinking little secure conference room, were called upon by the National Security Council, the Vice President, the Secretaries of Defense and State, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, they were all there sitting around the table. And at that point they said near the end, to both the Ambassador, me, and the commander of SOUTHCOM Admiral Stavridis, they said, "Okay, Ambassador, Admiral, what is your recommendation?" And at that point, based upon,, literally the conversation that I had had with Admiral Stavridis, about two days before, I said, "I believe we should give the Colombians a green light." As did Admiral Stavridis. It did work and everything came out in the best possible outcome we could have hoped for.

Amb. McCarthy: (22:56) That goes to show that, again, on these these major challenges overseas it takes a group, it takes an interagency, it takes that strong relationship that you both had. So I wanted to move on to some other issues. Bill, you spent six years leading our counter narcotic efforts at the Department of State. Few people know that the Department of State has such a major program and that it is run by a diplomat. Can you explain what the program is and, in your view, what is this current drug and criminal threat to the United States?

Amb. Brownfield: (23:31) The issue of drugs, which is what started INL, 40 some odd years ago. The situation, kind of, that we were dealing with was as follows. U.S. Law enforcement does not have the authority, or for that matter the resources, to do foreign assistance and training overseas. The United States Armed Forces, which has both the the resources and, to a very considerable extent the expertise, nevertheless is expected to focus its efforts on dealing with the military, foreign militaries overseas. So sometime in the mid 1970s, the then president and congress in their wisdom said, we need someone that can fit into this gap. That was us. By the early years of this decade, we have a heroin crisis as well as an opioid crisis. Over the last three or four years, the same trafficking organizations have discovered that certain products that are chemically made, with names like Fentanyl and Carfentanil, are 20 to 50 times as powerful as heroin, and actually cheaper to produce and easier to smuggle. And that is the nature of the crisis, and I do not use that word loosely or lightly, that we are confronting today in the United States.

Amb. McCarthy: (25:01) Jim, you have, in particular, been looking and focusing on Venezuela, a country where Bill also served as ambassador.

Amb. Brownfield: (25:09) I loved it. It was great fun.

Amb. McCarthy: (25:10) We will actually get to that part of how much you loved it when I was on the other end of the phone. You wrote an article, last September if I recall, "It's Time to Plan for Civil War in Venezuela". What in your view, can the U.S. do using our civilian and military assets to address this challenge, that is, Venezuela.

Adm. Stavridis: (25:29) The original title of that article was "The Last Days of Venezuela" and I sadly feel as though the trend lines are very, very dangerous. I would assess right now that there's a one in three chance of significant, complete breakdown of civil society and a full blown civil war. The good news is, I think there's still a two thirds chance that this can be resolved in a more peaceful fashion. I think it was Santayana, the philosopher, who said that history always repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. And I think Hugo Chavez was the tragedy. He almost single handedly destroyed the opportunities for Venezuela. He didn't destroy the political process, it was already badly damaged. But he destroyed Venezuela's future in a lot of ways. The salient question is, in the face of this continuing meltdown in this society, what can we do? What should we do? And I absolutely defer to two career diplomats, and particularly a former ambassador to Venezuela, but here's my pitch. The United States has to avoid becoming the lightning rod that allows Maduro to mobilize his cadres. That means our criticism, our leadership need to be subdued somewhat, and filtered as much as possible through our allies in the region. This is where Ambassador Brownfield's comments earlier about was what we did in Columbia overall worth it? Oh my gosh, can you imagine facing this Venezuelan crisis if right next door, were a continuing shattered Columbia, such as we knew a decade ago. Working with Colombia, working with Brazil, working through the OAS, I think the international component of this is crucial. Secondly, we need better intelligence. We need to understand better what's going on in Venezuela. I continue to be frustrated and I still have the highest level of security clearance. I've briefed regularly on this. We're still not really seeing what's going on to the degree or the depth that we could or should. Thirdly, we should understand, as you mentioned, how this is intertwined with the drug trade. I think there's leverage against Maduro there, in the international sense and in the interagency sense as well in the United States. And then fourth, and finally we ought to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. And that means, what can we be thinking about? What should we be prepared to do? In the case of a huge outflow of refugees. In the case of a full blown civil war. Are we prepared to open up the big migrant, humanitarian camp we have at Guantanamo Bay, for example. Guantanamo Bay, well known as a prison, it has space for tens of thousands of displaced individuals from natural disasters or from a situation like this.

Amb. Brownfield: (28:39) We know because it's done that in the past with Haitians and Cubans.

Amb. McCarthy: (28:42) Correct.

Adm. Stavridis: (28:42) Exactly, Bill. So I think those are four things we ought to be concentrating on in Venezuela. But I really do want to ask the ambassador to comment across the spectrum here. I've been looking forward to this podcast, frankly, to hear his views on Venezuela.

Amb. Brownfield: (28:57) When I was in Venezuela, 2004 to 2007, I kind of divided into four categories what I thought was the kind of, the U.S. approach to dealing with Venezuela. Now this is very close in, I was sitting in Caracas and dealing with the problems day to day. First, at that time, I would have said, stay focused on the two remaining national interests that we had in Venezuela at that time. One was drugs and the fact that an increasing amount of Colombian cocaine was transiting Venezuela on the way to the U.S. And the second was oil. Venezuela was then, much more so than today, an essential oil partner. I believe, by the way, both of those fundamental interests have dropped dramatically in terms of impact on the U.S.. In fact, we have written them off on drugs. We could write them off on oil. And my guess is it would cause a two-day blip in the U.S. oil market, and then it would stabilize. The second thing that I thought we were doing, was to support a democratic opposition. Now we had to do it, as Jim says, indirectly is best, don't give them a target. The third objective was to penetrate the Chavista base. Which, in my day, meant get into the barrios, get into the poorer communities where there was a tremendous amount of support for Mr. Chavez. And deliver a message, which is that the U.S. Is not that different from Venezuela. And we used baseball, we used baseball as the connector. And we said, look, we're not that different from you. We're not the devil. But give them some sense that they are in fact being supported by us. I believe that is still a role that we must play, but today, it is less U.S.-only as more of the international community comes to see their interest in supporting us. That was the fourth objective. As I said to the opposition frequently during my last year in Venezuela, the future opposition may well come out of the Chavismo movement. When this house of cards begins to come down, it is likely to be somebody who is in the Chavez, now Maduro camp, who will be in some position of leadership. I find myself in almost complete agreement with Admiral Stavridis. Our challenge is to figure how to encourage without becoming ourselves part of the issue. It is how to prepare for an inevitable collapse. It is going to happen. We've read this book before. It's the story of the Soviet Union. We know how it ends. This is a nation that is gradually, in fact not so gradually, evolving into malnutrition and undernourishment, has a medical system that can no longer deliver healthcare to its people, and a complete collapse of law and order on the streets. The idea of holding out humanitarian assistance both drives a bit of a wedge between the government and its people and finally gives us a hook that the larger international community can tie to. That from my perspective, is the way to proceed.

Amb. McCarthy: (32:36) Well certainly the refugee crisis and potential, I mean, some have already fled, we know, into Colombia and other places, others are taking boats to leave, you know, for a number of reasons.

Adm. Stavridis: (32:45) Let me just put a number on that. There are three million. Three million refugees outside the country right now. This is not trivial. And, just to underline Bill's point, we have seen this movie before. We've seen sort of two versions of it. One is the Orange Revolution. The Eastern European revolutions where it kind of has a modestly happy ending. Unfortunately, the other ending we've seen, the other movie we've seen, is Syria, where a population rose up against the dictator, and you know, frankly, Assad is going to win this round. Just like Milosevic, won a round. Where did Milosevic end up? He died in a jail cell in the Hague. Assad will too. But at the moment, there's another version of the movie out there. So I think we've got to be prepared, as the Ambassador said, on both sides of that coin.

Amb. McCarthy: (33:38) I wanted to move on to get a little bit into your stories individually. So let me start with you, Jim. What made you choose to join our military?

Adm. Stavridis: (33:50) I grew up in the military. My father was a career officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and so I grew up moving from military base to military base. I always say, however, that I got very interested in diplomacy because when I was eight years old, he was assigned as the Assistant Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece. So I spent three years, very formative years, kind of 9, 10, 11, 12. That's when particularly a little boy starts looking around, and I in all seriousness thought about the foreign service. At the end of the day, I ended up going to Annapolis, and then the Navy, recognizing that I was pretty good at launching Tomahawk missiles but I couldn't launch ideas, sent me to the Fletcher School where I did my PhD. And so I do have this sort of diplomacy bit of DNA in me and, and some of my closest, closest friends and colleagues like the two sitting here on this podcast are members of the foreign service. I enjoyed 37 years in the military, but in a strange parallel universe, I would be Bill Brownfield.

Amb. McCarthy: (34:58) So Dr. Brownfield, Dr. McCarthy would like to ask you, Dr., what made you choose to be a diplomat?

Amb. Brownfield: (35:06) I too, I'm not sure you know this by the way, Dr. Stavridis, I am also an Army brat in my case. My father, who grew up on a ranch in west Texas, but in 1939 entered the United States Army and remained in the United States army until 1969 when he returned to west Texas. I reached that point in my career at about age 22 or 23, where I had zero concept of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I spent a year first drilling and then working on the production in oil wells in West Texas before I finally entered law school at the premier law school, in fact, the premiere university in all of the United States of America, the University of Texas at Austin. Please mention that to your daughter, Admiral Stavridis. In the first year of law school. That's exactly right. That's exactly right, hook em' smarty pants. Hook em'. Now as happens, as anyone can attest, the first year of law school is absolutely miserable. And near the end of my first semester, I saw on the bulletin board that notice that attracts anyone's attention, and it said Foreign Service Exam and down at the bottom it made it quite clear, it was free. To my mild surprise, to the absolute unbelievable surprise of my family, I passed. Did I want to practice law? Which at that point I had gotten around to thinking, this could be fun. Did I want to go into the foreign service? I said, oh heck, if I enter the foreign service and I don't like it, I can come back in a couple of years and go into the law. If on the other hand, I do the law and I try to come back to the foreign service in two or three years, I have to start the process all over again. I entered the foreign service and 39 years later, I do not regret it.

Amb. McCarthy: (37:14) My final question is, what recommendations would each of you make today to young diplomats and young military officers on the importance of the relationship between our diplomats and our military to advance American interests overseas? Jim?

Adm. Stavridis: (37:32) I would say first of all that people come up to me a lot as a former military person and say thank you for your service. And that means a lot to me. I always say back to them politely, there are a lot of ways to serve this country, including diplomats, AID workers, Peace Corps volunteers, Teach for America, policemen, firemen, school teachers, particularly very underpaid ones in rural counties and inner cities, nurses working in clinics. There are so many ways to serve this country. So my first comment would be. “be proud of your service”. You're part of something so fundamental to the country. And then secondly, I would say you ought to take special pride in that relationship between our diplomats and our military personnel. We are part of the same family. We take risk. We make enormous personal sacrifice. We are not paid enormous sums of money. We take on the most important of work for the nation and that by doing it together, we are so vastly greater than the sum of our individual efforts. That has been my experience and I would try and share that message with every young diplomat or every young military officer.

Amb. Brownfield: (38:53) I mean, I'd just reinforce that. In fact, I'm going to do it by quoting one of Jim Stavridis' predecessors. His name was George Joulwan. He had this little motto. It was, wait for it. "One team, one fight". It encapsulates what would be my advice to both younger military officers and younger foreign service officers. And that is, don't forget, we actually are all part of the same basic effort and one side either is not going to succeed without the other or success is going to be much more complicated. Talk, talk, talk, don't be two separate camps, whether you're in an embassy, a specified geographic command, or in Washington. When I was a student at the National War College here in Washington at Fort McNair, there were 160 of us. We had to talk to one another. And what we discovered as the year went on was, while in many ways we were describing the same thing with different words, we understood what was important to the other in terms of advancing their career. And of course we developed relationships that then stood the test of time for the next two decades. We actually are part of the same team.

Adm. Stavridis: (40:24) Can I just underline one point Bill made? When I left SouthCom and got to EUCOM to be the NATO commander, I said, well, what's our motto here? And they said, well, we really haven't had a motto of since General Joulwon left, you know, 20 years ago. And I said to the command, come up with a motto, one that really sums up everything we do at this combatant command. And what they came back with, they came up with Bill Brownfield (laughter). No, they came up with "stronger together". And that became, and still is, the motto of US European Command. And I think that kind of captures it all for me anyway. I think we've been stronger together on this podcast. Thank you so much. It's great to see both your smiling faces again after a year or so.

Amb. McCarthy: (41:17) Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Bill. This was a lot of fun.