"Strengthening the Bridge: Building Partnership Capacity" Co-authored by James G. Stavridis

Military Review

Admiral Mike Mullen has said, "Developing a relationship on the battlefield in the midst of a crisis with someone I've never met before can be very challenging . . . Trust has to be built up over time. You can't surge trust."

Trust comes from years of cooperative experience, listening, success, and failure, and is held together by a common vision of a secure and prosperous future. Because relationships are so important, it is critical never to take them for granted. That is why building partnership capacity is the centerpiece of all that European Command does and is clearly the command's top priority.

What is partnership? By definition, it is a relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, and responsibility for the achievement of a specified goal. Notice that it is not a one-way exchange, but a two-way relationship, a relationship between partners who both have a stake in the outcome. We chose the word "partnership" carefully. Partnerships are built on unique experiences, imply recognition of both strengths and shortcomings, complement each other to reach mutual goals, and learn from each other. We in the European Command believe no one person, service, agency of government, or nation is as good as a coalition of willing partners working together.