Saturday, June 15, 2013

Budget Fratricide and Bureaucratic Chicken between the House Appropriations Committee and USSOCOM

This is a follow-up to the article I previously posted about the HAC cutting the USSOCOM budget.  I have had a number of conversations with different people regarding this report and I have tried to synthesize some of the various views on what is going on.

I think what we are seeing here is "budget fratricide" and that the HAC is playing hardball with USSOCOM.

Some speculate that this action is a result of the House's unhappiness with the USSOCOM response to query's on the National Capital Region (NCR) "entity', the Regional SOF Coordination Centers (RSCC), and the Global SOF Network (GSN).  I think Congress, perhaps at the behest of the Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCC), may be dissatisfied with the new Unified Command Plan and the command relationships between USSOCOM, the Theater Special  Operations Commands (TSOC) and the GCCs.   Again, according to some, USSOCOM has not provided Congress satisfactory answers on the  NCR, RSCC, and the GSN (not to be confused with the Game Show Network)

In order to force USSOCOM's hand Congress may be holding these programs that take care of operators and their families hostage. Furthermore there is also speculation that the House wants USSOCOM to prioritize requirements so that the Congress can make cuts where necessary but instead USSOCOM supposedly only proposes more growth across the board.  

As many have pointed out these programs for mental health, education and family resiliency can be justified for resourcing by MFP-11 funding from Congress but I think Congress may be playing bureaucratic chicken with USSOCOM.  They may be trying to force its hand and see what is the priority to USSOCOM:  the NCR entity, RSCC, and the GSN or these programs that take care of operators and their family.  I do not think Congress is going to fund everything and this kind of game of bureaucratic chicken puts USSOOCM between the rock and a hard place.  If it holds fast on the organizations it is trying to establish it may be sacrificing the well being of the operational force and their families.  It may not be able to get both unless it satisfies Congress with detailed information about these new entities and organizations and offer budget priorities.

Keep in mind that this is speculation based on the synthesis of a number of comments I have received.

House panel says no to separate Spec Ops family programs

Jun. 14, 2013 - 01:04PM   |  

The House Appropriations Committee has taken steps to block the U.S. Special Operations Command’s efforts to create separate programs for mental health, education and family resiliency.
In an era of tight budgets, the committee said, it’s important that “Major Force Program-11” funds be used for their original purpose — to provide funding for unique special operations needs.

In some cases, SOCOM asked for funds to establish new programs or activities that duplicate existing military programs. In others, the command is seeking to assume responsibility for activities that were previously, and more appropriately, funded by the services, according to the committee’s explanatory report accompanying its version fo the 2014 defense appropriations bill.

The bill next goes to the full House for approval.

Adm. William McRaven, SOCOM commander, has said in various forums this year that he is concerned about the health of the spec ops force and their families, which according to a 2011 command report was “frayed.”

Lawmakers said they understand the toll of the wars on all service members and their families, and appreciate McRaven’s focus on the psychological health and well-being of troops and their families.
But they stated that the mental health of all service members, including special operations personnel, is best addressed within the Defense Health Program to ensure the highest quality of care for all service members.

In response to defense officials’ request for $21.3 million for the psychological health and well-being of special operations forces and their families, the committee transferred that money to the Defense Health Program. The committee stated it supports expanding the services’ successful behavioral health programs to the special operations community.
(Continued at the link below)

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