Saturday, January 25, 2014

SecDef Should Crack Whip On Cyber, Drones, & Training Foreigners

Sydney analyzes the just released CNAS report on roles and missions by the their active duty military fellows.  I think it is worth reading and debating.  I have one comment to offer on Sydney's analysis and "competition" (Sydney's word) between the Army, Marine Corps, and SOF in Phase Zero operations.  Excerpt:

So-called Phase Zero Operations, in which US troops train foreign forces, conduct exercises with them, and even quietly help them secure their countries. Historically, Special Operations Forces did the small-scale, low-profile, long-term work in the shadows, while the four services occasionally showed up for big high-profile exercises. But after 9/11, the “Big Army” andMarine Corps both had to build up Afghan and Iraqi forces, expertise they don’t want to lose. Now now they are to some extent competing (my word, not the authors’) with each other and with SOCOM for Phase 0 business around the world, especially in the high-profile Pacific“The Department of Defense needs to provide the services guidance on their primary mission responsibilities in Phase 0 operations,” the four officer write, “instead of letting the services make their own decision about the force size and mix required.”

What is really required is simply to use the right forces for the right missions.  The Army, Marine Corps, and SOF are different forces with different capabilities (and as an old boss used to say "jointness does not equal sameness" - our joint force is better by having the right mix of different capabilities rather than trying to make the organizations that make up the joint force the same or do the same things, but I digress).  While DOD does need to provide service guidance what is really necessary to prevent "competition" (which of course is not always bad but in this case might lead to redundancy vice efficiency among capabilities) is a comprehensive strategy with supporting campaign plans that will determine the right mix of capabilities and forces to support the strategy.  i think the DOD guidance will end up being focused on force structure and budget with "competition" to employ their capabilities in support of the geographic combatant commands in order to justify their force structure and share of the resource pie.  In effect there is a lot of push, but is there a real pull from the combatant commands and the chiefs of mission for these capabilities?  Again more fundamentally, are we developing a comprehensive national strategy and regional campaign plans and country team mission strategic plans that will call for and then orchestrate the right service capabilities to accomplish the required ends of the strategy?

A Croatian soldier and a Minnesota National Guardsman train together for Afghanistan.
A Croatian soldier and a Minnesota National Guardsman train together for Afghanistan.
Yesterday, four mid-grade military officers — one from each armed service – made a remarkable public recommendation to their boss, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: It’s time to force the four services back into clearly demarcated “lanes” and reduce overlap between them as budgets shrink and competition escalates. They focused on three high-priority areas:
  1. Cybersecurity, the one area of the budget that’s actually growing. As a result, all four services are training “cyber warriors” and creating “cyber” units — but with no clear guidance from the Defense Department on which service should specialize in what, so everyone is doing a bit of everything. “The services risk building similar capabilities in different ways to conduct the same mission,” the co-authors write, “[with] significant duplication and overlap.” Their (tentative) solution: take away some of the services’ authority to “train, equip, and organize” cybersecurity personnel and give it to the interservice Cyber Command. That step would raise CYBERCOM to a status currently enjoyed only by Special Operations Command (SOCOM), halfway to being a full-scale independent service.
  2. Drones, aka “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS). “Currently,” they write, “the four services are developing 15 separate UAS platforms of varying weights, speeds and altitudes” (see exhibits 123, and 4), as well as “42 separate UAS payload development programs… [and] 13 ground control stations.” While they stop short of a specific recommendation here, the co-authors do note regretfully  that the current UAS Task Force lacks “authority over the services for programmatic consolidation or termination.” (Hint, hint?) They also speak approvingly of the much-derided 1947 Key West agreement, which among other things defined what kind of (manned) aircraft each service could fly.
(Continued at the link below)

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