Defense News recently reported on a Pentagon plan to consolidate its six regional commands into four. The proposal would dissolve Africa Command and split it between European and Central Commands, and combine Southern Command and Northern Command. The action would shed thousands of civilian and military positions and help the Defense Department comply with the budget caps squeezing its topline. But consolidation isn’t enough. The Pentagon should close all of the commands.
Other Pentagon offices can accomplish the commands’ few important functions. The commands have become less accountable alternatives to embassies, predictable sources of threat inflation and insatiable consumers of military resources.
The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, an effort to limit the military services’ independence, gave the regional commands control over deployed US forces. They plan and manage relations with foreign militaries, humanitarian assistance and war. Pacific Command deals with most of Asia. Central Command handles the Middle East and parts of South Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. European Command is largely an offshoot of NATO’s headquarters. Africa, long split by Central and European Commands, got its own command in 2008 — though it still shares European Command’s headquarters. Northern Command was created in 2002 to manage the military’s homeland defense efforts, and Southern Command handles South America.
There are also functional commands dealing with strategic nuclear weapons, transportation and special operations forces, which we would keep.
There is plenty of room to trim. The regional commands collectively employ more than 15,000 military personnel, civilians and contractors. They are also flag officer magnets. Pacific Command alone has five four-star jobs, plus a full-up platoon of three-, two- and one-star generals and admirals. Each service also maintains subordinate commands to deal with the combatant commands — an additional bureaucratic layer.
(Continued at the link below)