Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's Time to Upgrade the Defense Department

This initiative is long overdue.  Below are some comments that I made in response to to the one by Colin Clark in Breaking Defense today.  My 2009 proposal for a new national security act is at the link below as is a link to my blog with the political warfare white paper.


From a Mentor:
It would be helpful if they asked if DOD is best of organized to execute it's role in political warfare....and then conclude we need a Joint Special Warfare command.

This would be in line with section 1097 of the NDAA which directs the SECDEF to come up with a strategy for countering unconventional warfare which is something I have been working on for a long time.

At this link  is the USASOC White Paper on SOF Support to Political Warfare.  

Some good questions below.  It will be interesting to read what Jim Locher says in his testimony.  Here is my short answer to a next Goldwater-Nichols.  Consider development of a professional National Security Corps of professional practitioners who are educated and trained in the national security process of how to make policy and strategy and then are assigned throughout the interagency (with assignments to multiple agencies over their careers)  to ensure all agencies have sufficient focus on the national security mission.  Jim Locher once told me that there are only two executive branch agencies that claim national security and national defense as their primary overarching mission and that is DOD and the CIA.  My 2009 recommendations are at this link: http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-national-security-act-of-2009

Since the choice and testimony of witnesses is crucial to the Kabuki of Hill hearings, t’s most interesting that Jim Locher, described by the committee as “a primary author of Goldwater-Nichols,” is expected to say that the US military “has not adapted its organizational approaches to keep up with the world it faces.”

Locker, who now works with the Joint Special Operations University, will tell the SASC that “decision-making must be faster, more collaborative, and more decentralized. The Pentagon’s inadequate capacity represents a major deficiency.”

Ultimately, Locher will tell the SASC that, even though the US military performs better than most of the rest of the government, that still isn’t enough, especially in the face of enormous changes in threats, economics and other globals strategy drivers.


This oversight initiative is not a set of solutions in search of problems. We will neither jump to conclusions nor address only symptoms. We will take the time to look deeply for the incentives and root causes that drive behavior. And we will always, always be guided by that all-important principle: First, do no harm.

It is my hope that the cause of reform will not be ours alone. Reforming, reshaping, and reimagining our defense institutions to meet the challenges of a more dangerous world will require drawing on the wisdom of our nation’s best defense experts, so many of whom are War on the Rocks contributors and readers. I hope our oversight initiative will start a broader conversation that will help inform and improve our reform efforts.

Finally, this must and will be a bipartisan endeavor. Defense reform is not a Republican or Democratic issue, and we will keep it that way. These are vital national security issues, and we must seek to build a consensus about how to improve the organization and operation of the Department of Defense in ways that can and will be advanced by whomever wins next year’s elections. Such bipartisanship is in keeping with the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee and all those charged with providing for the common defense.

It's Time to Upgrade the Defense Department

  • by Sen. John Mccain 
  •  Nov. 10, 2015 
  •  6 min read 
  •  original
The worldwide threats confronting our nation, now and in the future, have never been more complex, uncertain, and daunting. America will not succeed in the 21st century with anything less than the most innovative, agile, efficient, and effective defense organization. I have not met a senior civilian or military leader who thinks we have that today.
That’s why the Senate Armed Services Committee is conducting a major oversight initiative on the future of defense reform. The purpose of this effort is to ask what problems are impeding the performance of the Department of Defense, define these problems clearly, and rigorously consider what reforms may be necessary. Last month, we began a series of hearings to consider the strategic context and global challenges facing the United States, defense strategy, the future of warfare, the civilian and military organizations of the Department of Defense, and its acquisition, personnel, and management systems. Much of this is the legacy of the Goldwater-Nichols reforms that were enacted in 1986. These will be the subject of the committee’s hearing today.
In no way is this effort a criticism of the many patriotic, mission-focused public servants, both in and out of uniform, who sacrifice every day, here at home and around the world, to keep us safe. To the contrary, it is precisely because we have such outstanding people that we must strive to remove impediments in our defense organizations that would squander the talents of our troops and civil servants.
Some would argue that the main problems facing the Department of Defense come from the White House, the National Security Council staff, the interagency process, and the Congress. I couldn’t agree more, especially about the dysfunction of Congress. But as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the committee at the start of our defense reform effort, the problems inside the Defense Department are real and serious.
In constant dollars, our nation is spending almost the same amount on defense as we were 30 years ago. But for this money today, we are getting 35 percent fewer combat brigades, 53 percent fewer ships, 63 percent fewer combat air squadrons, and significantly more overhead — though exactly how much is difficult to establish, because the Department of Defense does not even have complete and reliable data, as GAO has repeatedly found.
MCCAIN-1Defense Spending vs. Active Combat Units, Fiscal Years 1985-2015 (FY16 constant $M). Source: CRS, CBO.
Of course, our armed forces are more capable now than 30 years ago, but our adversaries are also more capable — some exponentially so. At the same time, many of the weapons in our arsenal today — our aircraft, ships, tanks, fighting vehicles, rifles, missiles, and strategic forces — are the products of the military modernization of the 1980s. And no matter how much more capable our troops and weapons are today, they are not capable of being in two places at once.
Our declining combat capacity cannot be divorced from the problems in our defense acquisition system, which one high-level study summed up as follows:
[T]he defense acquisition system has basic problems that must be corrected. These problems are deeply entrenched and have developed over several decades from an increasingly bureaucratic and overregulated process. As a result, all too many of our weapon systems cost too much, take too long to develop, and, by the time they are fielded, incorporate obsolete technology.
Sounds right. But that was the Packard Commission, written in 1986. Since then, cost overruns and schedule delays on major defense acquisitions have only gotten worse. Defense programs are now nearly 50 percent over budget and, on average, over two years delayed. It is telling that perhaps the most significant defense procurement success story of the last several decades — the MRAP — was produced by going around the acquisition system, not through it.
(Continued at the link below)

1 comment:

  1. The fact that no one even thinks about having a similar hearing concerning the State Department and USAID should tell us everything we know about the dysfunctional condition of the nation's foreign policy apparatus. That State is not considered a "national security" agency is appalling at best. We all know, of course, that the agency is a disaster, has been for years, and throwing more money at it would not fly in Congress (we tried it and saw the results). But where did DIME go? Why doesn't anyone even pretend to read the QDDR?
    Those poor FSOs aren't all to blame. The system is broken, and has been for decades. (All of which is even more true of benighted, hapless USAID. When money gets thrown at it, what can those under-trained, under-appreciated bureaucrats do but throw it right back out to contractors and grantees? Stop blaming them, and start blaming the organizational nightmare.) Diplomacy and Development aren't - shouldn't be - chopped liver, though at the moment they are both giving the world massive heartburn (which might turn terminal if we aren't careful). Can we afford to keep militarizing foreign policy so that first-rate warriors end up setting up water irrigation systems in places our intel (if you want to call it that) doesn't realize is the wrong place anyway? Where's Sun Tzu when we need him.
    Juliana Geran Pilon, Ph.D.
    Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization


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