U.S. National Security and Global Health: An Analysis of Global Health Engagement by the U.S. Department of Defense

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Bonventre, Gene
Hicks, Kathleen
Okutani, Stacy
Despite a broadening consensus that global health care efforts have an impact on national and global security, the U.S. national security community’s efforts to address global health are weak and uncoordinated. The 2006 National Security Strategy states that “development reinforces diplomacy and defense, reducing long-term threats to our national security by helping to build stable, prosperous, and peaceful societies.” While the U.S. government struggles to find the right balance among the “three Ds” of defense, diplomacy, and development, the U.S. military has increased its involvement in global health where it perceives the diplomacy and development to be underresourced—or to achieve its own specific objectives. As efforts to renew the capabilities of civilian agencies proceed, it is an appropriate time to step back and consider the role that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) currently plays in global health, the impact of its health activities on national and regional security, and the role it could play to support a newly balanced U.S. foreign policy.