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Thread: Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure?

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure?

    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure?
    by Ambassador David Passage, Small Wars Journal

    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure? (Full PDF Article)

    The beginning of a new Administration, particularly one which offers the prospect of significant departures from recent policies, offers an opportunity to re-think existing institutional structures and practices. This is particularly so, coming nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War, the Fall of the Wall, the triumph of the Eagle over the Bear, and the incorporation of many former opponents [Warsaw Pact members] into the West’s principal security alliance, NATO.

    Added to this mix is President Obama’s excruciating need to achieve economies clear across the US Government’s operating spectrum to finance domestic economic recovery and our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense spending is the largest single non-entitlement element in the USG budget. It will be under incredible pressure over the next several years. We need to re-equip our armed forces with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of materiel and munitions to replace what has been expended in those two conflicts. Vehicles of all types are worn to the point of barely being worth repatriating to the US; we are flying the wings off our aircraft, the rotors off our helicopters, and are using much of the remainder of our military equipment to within inches of its programmed life. And we have yet to calculate the ultimate cost of restoring our capacity to deal with other contingencies waiting out there in the high grass to rise up and bite us and our friends and allies.

    And as every reader of SWJ knows, the way to sensibly wring economies out of existing budgets and institutional structures is not by across-the-board cuts: it’s to re-examine and terminate – ax – whole programs.

    EUCOM, PACOM and CENTCOM have clear, well-defined and unquestioned war-fighting missions as well as robust force structures to support them. SOUTHCOM and the newly-formed AFRICOM do not and should not. Might this not be a good time to take a new look at our existing global military command structure?
    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure? (Full PDF Article)

  2. #2
    Council Member
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    Default David Passage is both

    a friend and someone I respect highly. His article, however, fails to pursuade me. The functions of SOUTHCOM & AFRICOM are more than nation-building, although I would admit to a significant chunk of that. Admiral Stavridis has restructured his command with his deputy from State and a functional staff structure different from the traditional J1 - Jn, while AFRICOM's structure is unlike anything that has gone before.

    One problem with David's analysis is what do we put in the place of these commands if they are axed? I submit that no other department of the USG has the resources to do the combination of things required in both regions. That does not say that the emphasis and the message sent - as David argues - is not wrong. But rather than axing them, I would suggest we consider converting them into what might be called Interagency Joint Operational Commands (IJOC - to coin anacronym). Heading the IJOC as its commander would be an Ambassador - David, want a new job? Seems kind of neat to me, especially giving an American Ambassador all (most) of the resources he would really need to do the job.



  3. #3
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Default Like you, I'm not persuaded...

    Mr. Passage makes some excellent points but I believe he discounts inertia too heavily. I agree with John T. that the functions of both SouthCom and AfriCom are more than nation building and that their continued existence over the next couple of decades will be beneficial to the US -- and, I think also to the regions.

    John posits a good alternative but it seems he places the IJOC under an Ambassaodr and I'm skeptical on that score. Admittedly, the President of the day can name anyone as his Ambassador -- not State's -- to anywhere but the AFSA is placing more of its members in such positions and fewer Prez political appointees are getting nods. My concern is that bureaucratic turf problems or simply whose turn it is will intrude on who gets that rather powerful position.

    I'm in favor of an alternative -- Option 2 of the Project on National Security Reform LINK to 830 pg .pdf. The Executive Summary LINK to 33 pg .pdf . This option gives the President more latitude to appoint the best -- or a better -- person for the job compared to whatever the pipeline might provide. My belief is that another Bremer should be avoided at all costs. Here's the schematic:
    Last edited by Ken White; 02-13-2009 at 06:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    As I have posted elsewhere, I am a fan of AFRICOM but debate is welcome. Like John T, I have friends whom I served with as their Defense Attache. Not all of them favor AFRICOM.

    AFRICOM's greatest role is to my mind one of budgeting on the national level. I have heard all the "militirization" of foreign assistance from various wings and I consider it to be a red herring. Monies included in one agency's budget can and are used by other agencies. In Rwanda, USEUCOM funds available at years end were transferred to USAID with assistance from Dick McCall. USAID then made me as the DATT the contracting officer and we hired RONCO for demining dogs.

    As for a stigma involved in having US military trainer's train security forces including police or gendarmerie, that argument is another hoary, circular path which leads to the idea of hiring a civilian police training effort to do the training. USAID did that in Vietnam and in the Congo in the 1960s. That route has its own image issues. We faced all this in Rwanda and we used USAID. We faced it early on in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Contract police trainers did not set the world on fire. Frankly when it comes to training forces that will have the use of deadly force, I remain convinced that exposing indigenous forces to the professionalism of US forces is of greater benefit than any cost due to image problems.

    Finally in the big scheme of things, the monies involved in maintaining AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM are not the programs we need to go after. They are small and they are preventive in that used wisely, they can reduce the likelihood of larger expenditures

    Keep them both. Use them as a model for modernizing older commands, remembering that one size does not fit all.



  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Wherever the needs of the Army take me . . .

    Default Unbelievable.

    Haha, I thought I was SOOOOOOOO smart.

    Boy, I feel silly now. Nice though that someone way above my pay grade thought of it too.

    On a more substantive note, the biggest bonus in my mind for such an organization would be the natural inter-agency framework that it encourages.

  6. #6
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Nov 2008

    Default Grand Strategy for a post-Cold War World

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure?
    by Ambassador David Passage, Small Wars Journal

    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure? (Full PDF Article)

    Time to Rethink Our Global Command Structure? (Full PDF Article)

    The U.S. currently does not possess a Grand Strategy of any sort, let alone one designed for the post-Cold War world we live in today. While this article recognizes "EUCOM, PACOM and CENTCOM have clear, well-defined and unquestioned war-fighting missions," I would contend that these war-fighting missions must absolutely be questioned as part of a comprehensive re-evaluation of U.S. Strategy designed for the world we live in today.

    A Doctrine of "Containment" worked to get us through the Cold War, but for the past 20 years we have drifted through follow-on doctrines of "Intervention" under President Clinton, and "Pre-emption" under President Bush; all with no true overhaul of the overarching strategy or of the tools of policy which exist to implement the same.

    In a standard Strategic construct of "Ends-Ways-Means" the Ends do not vary much. We still seek to preserve the American way of life; defend the homeland, and retain access to global markets and resouces. What must change, however, are the Ways and Means we use to sustain those ends.

    So my assessment is that this article is on track if the end of the Cold War and the advent of communication-driven globalization mean nothing. I believe they are critical and that the U.S. must move on from such status quo positions and also go beyond simply applying another policy bandaid to a well-worn 65 year old program.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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