Wallace Trains Senior Leaders at Pentagon


James C. Wallace, Lecturer in International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, delivered a keynote presentation at “Strategic Religious Support,” the annual training conference sponsored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Office of Religious Affairs from March 7-9, 2017. 

The conference was attended by Command Chaplains from all of the various U.S. Military Combat Commands including the CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, AFRICOM, EUCOM, PACOM, SOCOM, CYBERCOM, STRATCOM, and TRANSCOM. It was also attended by senior staff from both the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department. 

The aim of the conference was advising command on the threats and challenges involving religious variables in the battlespace. Wallace’s keynote presentation, entitled “Religious Advisement in the Battlespace: A Strategic Approach,”  focused on the strategic level of advisement of command (versus operational or tactical) in both kinetic battlefield operations and peace support operations.

Wallace discussed the four key tools for the external advisement of command including Religious Area Assessment (RAA), Religious Leader Engagement (RLE), Religious Impact Assessment (RIA) and Religious Strategic Planning (RSP). Further, Wallace taught how “religious strategic planning” integrates into the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) model.

In a second teaching session, Wallace discussed the unique application of the U.S. First Amendment to the U.S. military, analyzing the Constitutional text, applicable Supreme Court cases, and the consequential Second Circuit case of Katcoff v. Marsh.

The group was addressed by the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Silva, who stressed the critical value of the advisement of command on external religious threats, and by Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, the Navy Chief of Chaplains.

In a question and answer session, Wallace asked Kibben her view on the importance of the external religious advisement of command on the mission. 

“It is very important,” Kibben said. “COCOM Commanders eyes are always focused outwards looking for challenges and threats. If chaplains serve command, then their eyes too have to be outward-focused. Chaplains who advise command have to see the things that only they are trained to see in order to benefit command.”

Wallace continues to work with the U.S. military on “religious advisement in the battlespace” as well as with the Canadian Armed Forces.