Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dysfunctional DoD

The Pentagon’s counter attack on COIN is well underway together with a full fledged assault on the Guard and Reserves. Both actions are “Rice Bowl” issues as both COIN doctrine and the clear proof that Guard and Reserve forces are full fledged combat forces and having the extra flexibility of adaptation to the chaos and confusion of war.

The Pentagon’s PSYOP plan for preparing the political battlefield includes the subtle placement of “articles” in the professional journals and in the press extolling the virtues of Transformation and undermining the credibility of those they oppose. The Navy’s termination of the Navy’s TAR program was preceded by articles denouncing the TAR. The attempt to strip the Air Guard of fighter aircraft was (and still is) preceded by claiming that Guard and Reserve pilots needed consolidated training away from home station, and it was cheaper. The Army’s combat service support structure has been largely replaced with civilian contractors who use Guard. Reserve, and Retiree personnel at multiples of their original military salaries, but do not compete with Regulars for promotion and command assignments.

From NGAUS come the alerts of further actions to emasculate the Guard and Reserves:

The Issue: Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB)Immediate/Urgent Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose changes to the current structure of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) until hearings and debate in Congress can properly evaluate the way ahead.

The Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) has served as the vital linkage between the senior leadership of the Reserve Components with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress of the United States.The current structure, when permitted to function within the DoD, as provided by previous legislative guidance of the Congress, permits face-to-face consideration and debate by senior Reserve Component officers and the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense, with appropriate reporting to the Congress.Current proposals to reduce or eliminate these Reserve Component leaders are counter-productive (Sec. 1623 in the Senate version; Sec. 531 in the House version). When permitted to work within its charter, the RFPB has stood the test of time and has provided a critical path on Reserve issues to our nation’s leaders

The Issue: Mixed Status ForcesImmediate/Urgent Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to reject Section 1621(b) contained in the House version of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The National Guard Association of the United States joins with the National Governor’s Association, the Department of Defense and the President in opposing Section 1621(b) of the House version of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, “Command and Control of Mixed Status Forces in Certain Missions.”This language directs the Secretary of Defense to establish procedures allowing U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to exercise command of National Guard forces which are not federalized but are under State control performing “full-time National Guard duty” in Title 32 status. The language refers to “mixed status forces” which are defined as National Guard units in Title 32 status which are training or operating alongside active duty units.A law purporting to allow state-controlled National Guard forces to be placed under the command of federal military officers would be in conflict with 32 USC 115, unless such law requires consent of the governor. There is no mention of governor’s consent in Sec. 1621(b)

The key issue that we have to decide is to accept or reject the idea that all military wisdom and competence extend as a natural extension of a Regular commission, and that those who are not Regular are inherently inferior, save as temporary labor, seasonal workers, or cannon fodder.

Additionally we should question to continued utility of a career obsessed structure whose concern for military glory aka career management outstrips their concern with defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The advance PR about the likelihood of COIN operations as a passing fad is based on the Pentagon’s assessment that the War in front of us interferes with the Pentagon’s imaginary war needed billions in fancy hardware. They would rather lose the War on Terror than face the reality that the current Defense Department is terminally dysfunctional in fighting real wars.

It is time to restore the ability of the nation to build a war winning military capability in the manner we did prior to the creation of the Defense Department. This Defense department has no concept of defense nor of war, and should be renamed the Military Department.

Gordon S Fowkes
Lt Col, US Army (Ret)

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