Number 1. The future is UW and counter-UW
Number 2. We have the greatest Surgical Strike capability in the world but we need to prioritize and resource equally our Special Warfare capabilities.
Number 3. We need Strategists and Policy makers who have a deep understanding of and value the strategic options of UW and Counter-UW.
Number 4. Effective Special Warfare is counter-intuitively characterized by slow and deliberate employment – long duration actions and activities, relationship establishment, development, and sustainment.
"This is not a call for more resources," Robinson said at a briefing this morning. In the current budget crunch, she knows they won't be forthcoming. But, Robinson said, the money Congress already allocates could be managed much better.
The problem isn't just that the huge flow of supplemental funding for Iraq and Afghanistan is drying up. It's that operations outside the major warzones are funded by a grab-bag of different sources, "a portfolio of about 30 different authorities," said Robinson.
Each pot of money has its own particular purpose and legal rules. Commanders must figure out where to apply for money for their particular operation, and if they do get it once, they still have to compete for it again next year. (It's rather like thinktank academics scrambling to fund their next study). There is "complicated wargaming that goes on [just] to get your operation funded," Robinson said. It is, she wrote, "a lottery system."
This annual scramble is not only a huge waste of staff officers' time and energy: Such an ad hoc approach undermines the kind of "persistent presence" that no less a figure than Special Operations Command chief Adm. William McRaven considers essential to building up local allies so they can prevent regional crises without large-scale US intervention.
"You can have the most beautiful plan in the world, but if you don't have predictable funding to implement it, it doesn't matter," said Robinson.
So how can Congress provide more stability, I asked Robinson after her public remarks. The ideal might be to fund several years of operations in a given country with a single vote, but legislators hate to make multi-year commitments.
"Multi-year money is a hard ask for Congress and that may be a bridge too far," Robinson agreed, "but... you have to have a sustained approach to these countries." As a compromise, she suggested, one politically more manageable reform would be to package all the support for a particular country into a single line item subject to a single vote every year.
Different agencies and the different committees overseeing them are notoriously reluctant to pool funding across jurisdictions, it's true. However, said Robinson, there is a precedent for this approach in Plan Colombia, the long-running support for counter-guerrilla and counter-drug operations in Colombia that actually predates 9/11. (Many human rights groups and drug legislation activists loathe Plan Colombia, but the intelligence community and the military view it as a geostrategic success. And no one can argue that Colombia isn't much more stable and much safer than it was before).