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An interview with an Air Force fighter pilot:

 

20 years, over 600 combat hours, 151 combat missions, 21 hard kills on surface-to-air missile sites, four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, eight Air Medals with Valor, five Meritorious Service Medals, one Purple Heart. Dan Hampton is one of America’s most decorated fighter pilots of modern times and he holds nothing back when it comes to his views on air combat…

#3: What was the most frustrating thing about being a fighter pilot in the USAF?

That flying is not the focus of the USAF. It sounds axiomatic but it’s true. Political correctness, appearances, humanitarian missions, and not offending anyone are the focus.

Certainly not! Warfighting is obviously the first and foremost mission of our brave selfless servant warriors:

The White House has picked the first female general to head the Air Force in the Pacific, which will make her the first non-pilot to command air power in such a large theater of operation…

Gen. Robinson was nominated amid a diversity push by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and a general focus on women’s issues by the White House. Mr. Hagel has vowed to stamp out sexual assaults in the military and said he is open to studying whether transgender people are permitted to serve.

Calling Tony Carr

Now that both of the major conflicts of the new century are virtually lost, and the talent-retention genetic geniuses have decided that cash bonuses and post-of-choice programs don’t actually work in retaining targeted talent, the Big Smart Brass Chief of Staff of the Army (aka CSA, or Gen. Odierno) decides to go to the military’s top-secret, ultra elite talent management cadre in a sort of sensing-session. This reminds me of the scene in Team America where the hero decides to employ a montage to get ready for his assignment.

Article “CSA Taps Captains for Talent Management Ideas” with commentary in Bold

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, July 11, 2014) — The Army wants to put the right people in the right jobs at the right time — especially with shrinking budgets and manpower and an uncertain global security environment — but does it do that very well? [Why is this question even being asked at this point? nono,   no]

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno asked a group of captains how they think those talent-management efforts are working and what improvements, if any [heh. Is Odierno referring to the cash bonuses or the post-of-choice options?] , are needed.

Better interaction between the Soldier and his or her branch manager is necessary and the process needs more transparency, said Capt. Paul Lushenko [another military pseudo-scholar], noting this has been a perennial and festering problem.

He added that the Army would, of course, need to balance the aptitude and interests of the officer against operational requirements. Commanders would also need to play a role in the decision-making process.

Odierno cautioned that although it’s important that commanders play a part in talent decisions and scouting, given a choice, they would choose the best 10 captains to be in their command.

That wouldn’t be fair to the captains, who would be competing against their peers for promotions and other opportunities and it wouldn’t be fair to other units where they might be drawn from. [Actually, competition works very well, but the army lacks the underlying framework necessary to make it work]

“Certain units have a history of drawing good officers,” Odierno said, adding that “as chief, I want to spread talent across the Army.” [Why?]

The topic of talent management was one of several discussed at the Army’s second solarium. The first was convened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1953, across the defense establishment to formulate Cold War strategy.

Solarium 2014 dealt with pressing issues with which the Army is grappling. One hundred five captains from across the Army met here July 9-11, to wrestle with problems and brainstorm ideas and solutions, after interacting with their teams for a month online. The event culminated in each team presenting its findings to the chief.

Seven teams, each with about 15 members, were divided into two teams focusing on talent management, and one team each for vision and branding, culture, mission command, education and training. This is the first of several articles that will cover the topics discussed.

Odierno said he values inputs from junior officers, many of whom will still be around when the Army of 2025 matures. He used the Socratic method of discussion, which encouraged the captains to contradict his own views and argue their own points in a back-and-forth discussion. [Uh huh. I'll believe it when I see action. Odierno's not known for being particularly tolerant of diverging views.]

“My biggest fear in life is [is that] no one’s telling me what’s going on, so I focus on understanding how other people are seeing things and getting their perspectives,” Odierno said, acknowledging that duties and responsibilities in his role as chief often isolate and prevent him from having candid conversations with Soldiers in the field.

Lushenko continued to explain his team’s thoughts on talent management, using captains as examples, offering that the approaches discussed could also apply to other Army ranks.

CAREER PIVOTING

At what point in an officer’s career should talent-management evaluations or re-evaluations take place, he asked: at accessions, after five years, 10, all of the above?

At some point in his career, an infantry officer might realize he’d be better suited at cyber or intelligence, Lushenko said, and there’s also the possibility he may not even realize that latent talent.

Odierno remarked that Soldiers’ talents might evolve at some point in their careers after basic, as they acquire skills, knowledge and experience. That could point to the need for assessment gates at various points.

“People do change, by the way, and you may not realize the talents you have until you get out there,” he said. [Agreed. I got out of the Army.]

The first seven years are formative, with officers developing their “officership and branch fundamentals,” he continued. After that, officers and enlisted often seek growth outside their specialties. Fostering and cultivating that growth is a retention issue as well, since specialty burnout could occur without it.

A problem that’s solvable, Odierno said, is designing the most accurate test that measures abilities, skills and interests with a correspondingly high degree of predictive validity. Those types of tests may already be out there and could be tailored for the Army.

Talent transition is a weighty decision for the Soldier and the Army, Lushenko said. Soldiers pondering this move should have an experienced mentor who can assess and advise. Perhaps the protégé could choose his or her mentor.

Yes, senior leaders reaching out to junior leaders in a mutually agreed-upon way seems to be the right path, Odierno responded.

Besides having mentors, there would need to be facilitators or talent managers within organizations to manage this relationship, Lushenko said. Perhaps senior-officer branch representatives at the unit or installation level or division engineers or staff officers in the G-2 and G-4, he suggested.

Their roles would be facilitating the dialogue between Soldiers, mentors and commanders and they could also champion successful outcomes to representatives at Human Resources Command, Lushenko continued. This process should be standardized and talent managers would take this on as a formal responsibility. [Almost like a brigade hiring manager, one suspects. ]

This type of system was in place prior to 2005 when the Army became brigade-centric, Odierno replied. “We lost this when we assigned people to brigades and left it up to the brigades to handle. There are only so many positions in each brigade” for talent to migrate to “so this is a big problem.” [This would change if the Army stopped forcing promotions and movement along a particular career path, and stopped force-feeding officers into the system.]

The Army began efforts to correct this gap in talent management last year, he said. “I directed that the senior mission commander is the one responsible for managing captains, majors, lieutenant colonels, so in a sense we’re going back to the future. We just have to formalize it. We have to correct this. We can do this.”

LINKEDIN MILITARIZED

Talent management team members then discussed talent identification tools that could make the process more effective.

The business social networking site LinkedIn was mentioned frequently as a useful tool that allows users to share profiles and skills with each other and with talent scouts and employers.

If such a system were implemented by Human Resources Command, it could match positions with talents and would allow Soldiers to get in the loop as well. Jobs and opportunities would become visible as well.

This type of fluid and dynamic interaction would require buy-in from leaders and managers and a culture shift, the captains said. They suggested that the Army isn’t capable of building such a system and partnering with industry would be needed.

[Hey, idiots, where have you been for the last couple years? This EXISTS, it's called Rallypoint, and they've already done the groundwork for you morons. The fact that senior leadership and in fact the 105 subject-matter-specialist captains selected for this discussion are ignorant of this shows how badly the Army sucks at self-awareness or the capacity to change. What the army needs to do is a radical reimagining of how talent would fit into the Army, period, and design a market-like system for talent. Then you'd solve these problems.]

As it stands, iPERMS, Army Career Tracker System and the Officer Evaluation Reporting System are cumbersome, not interconnected and can be unfriendly to the user at times. There needs to be a centralized, one-stop shop to visit, they said.

[See my above point]

Soldiers also need report cards to see where they are at a glance so they’re not surprised by results of promotion or assignment selection boards, they said. The report cards would be accessible at any time and would include professional development scores as well as other data that are fed into the decision matrix used by board members.

[Get rid of promotion boards. have units hire into open slots at a given grade or promote in-house to positions. Period. This would get rid of the need for OERs, boards, etc. Just do away with that needlessly painful process.]
Such a system would allow officers to extrapolate their strengths and weaknesses and would encourage self-improvement.

[5 points for "Extrapolate"! even if used incorrectly]

Although the Officer Evaluation Reports, known as OERs, have recently been modified to better reflect an officer’s standing and potential, “commanders are not making the tough calls” when they fill them out, Odierno said, meaning the marks and remarks are inflated.”OERs look too much alike” and that makes the board selection process very difficult.

[Well duh. No officer wants to hurt their subordinates, particularly when having bad marks on the subordinate only leads to questions like "what's wrong with that guy?" and "why aren't you developing him more?"]
So more work needs to be done in the area of performance reviews and evaluations, Odierno acknowledged.

Recent changes to the OER have been a marked improvement, however, the captains said. Human Resources Command’s Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program is also effective and is another step in the right direction.

YOUNG GUNS

Some of the captains said it is not uncommon in the private sector to see young chief executive officers running large companies. Throughout American military history, young officers have often risen quickly through the ranks to command large formations during wartime. Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer is an example.

They wondered if a 28-year-old officer might have the talents and inclination to command a brigade, side-stepping or bypassing the current system year-group and time-in-service requirements in favor of a merit system. Perhaps a commander could take a prudent risk in selecting such a person for command.

Odierno waxed hot and cold on this idea. “I like your argument, but there are some impediments,” he cautioned.

A brigade commander needs to have a certain level and types of experience, he said, including “tactical and technical leadership capabilities that allow you to operate across the broad spectrum of problems.”

[BS. That's what you have staff officers for.]

Broad spectrum, he said, could be anything from understanding how recruiting works and having experience as an instructor at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to getting a master’s degree in international relations with experience at the joint level or with a coalition partner. Command at the company and battalion levels would be desired as well.

[That'd be an interesting discussion. What are the actual job requirements for a successful battalion commander?]

“You’re entrusting the lives of America’s sons and daughters” to the commander, so taking a risk like that would be too big a gamble, he said.

“We’re not a company like Apple or CISCO that’s about profits and margins,” he said. “Ours is a complex system of life-and-death responsibilities where learning mistakes could cost the lives of hundreds of people. We can’t walk away from the responsibility of command.”

[In oversimplifying and belittling enterprise, Odierno clearly doesn't understand the responsibilities that an exec in a private company faces, or the volunteer-army socialist system he's in charge of. Another example of pedestalizing the military.]

Besides that, there are statutory requirements that prohibit favoritism in deep selecting, he added.

[Favoritism? Who said anything about favoritism? Like identifying competence quickly?]

But the idea of elevating talent quickly is, nevertheless, worthy of consideration in other ways, he said.

Could a cyber expert or financial wizard be quickly elevated to colonel? “I’d be comfortable with that,” he said, meaning developing a fast track for technical specialties where the likelihood of command in battle is near nil.

“We’ve got to figure out how to do that with the authorities we now have and determine what new authorities we need, realizing the process could take five to 10 years,” he said.

PETER PRINCIPLE

Besides fast-tracking talent, the captains suggested that slow-tracking might also be a good option, citing the so-called Peter Principle.

In 1969, Laurence J. Peter authored a book by that title, which proposed that many people rise in rank or position to their highest level of incompetence.

His book cited instances of ineptitude and the damage that ensued, not only to others, but to the individuals themselves. He used case studies to show that ulcers and more serious medical conditions resulted from the stress of being unable to cope with tasks and responsibilities many were ill-equipped to handle.

Talent-management team members offered that there are likely some officers that would make ideal brigade commanders, but lousy division or corps commanders. Likewise, there are specialists who do a great job and love their work, but would make inept sergeants.

The captains suggested there should be a track for them as well, as the current system is limited to up or out.

If the Army has 10 slots for brigade commanders and 50 officers competing for those slots, would the Army want to bank on someone who is ranked eight, but has little potential or desire for service beyond the brigade level? Odierno asked. If the Soldier ranked eleventh has potential for growth beyond the brigade and his record is nearly as good as eight’s, wouldn’t it be wise to pick 11?

[Easy solution. How about this: If someone actively applies for a promotion, he's assessed for promotion. If not, he stays where he's at. More officers are not hired. How is that not even considered?]

In any case, the Army would hate to lose a Soldier who is performing a valuable service at the level he or she is at, but who doesn’t desire or merit a promotion. It’s a “conundrum” with no easy solutions, but is worthy of further discussion, he said.

CARROTS FOR PERFORMERS

There was unanimity among the captains and the chief that more incentives are needed for the Army’s top performers.

[I can't wait to see what they come up with after the afore-linked cash bonuses and assignment opportunities... ]

Incentives could include choice of assignment and educational opportunities.

A paid sabbatical to finish graduate school was one idea. The Army recently initiated the Career Intermission Pilot Program that does just that, but Soldiers do not receive their full pay and allowances.

Odierno said the Army is looking at offering top performers a master’s degree opportunity outside of the traditional graduate degrees received at service schools. Selectees could major in such areas as international relations, business administration, finance or public management with two follow-on payback assignments.

[Of course, you have to have the payback assignments. ]

So someone majoring in international studies could have a follow-on assignment at the J-3 or J-5 with a follow-on at the State Department, he said.

One captain said that the Army Medical Command already has this program in place and that he himself is enrolled in it, studying for a doctorate degree.

“It’s a great motivator, but getting in is highly competitive,” he said.

Odierno promised the captains that their ideas would be given serious consideration [hahaha] and that he would explore their feasibility and provide follow-ups on actions taken.

[Again, I'll believe it when I see it. What's needed in the Army talent management system is drastic action, not weaselly half-steps that maintain the status quo.]

The Army’s got talent, he concluded, and with junior officers like these leading the service in the coming decades, the Army will be in good hands. [platitudes]

Army leaders said it is likely there will be future solariums, perhaps with non-commissioned officers, warrant officers or those of other ranks.

 

 

 

Making the rounds on facebook today is this article, in which a 59-year-old woman discovers that inner beauty is in fact not what matters on an open dating market:

 

We met on a dating site. Dave was interesting, gentlemanly and bright. He held my hand and toured with me on long bicycle rides. He drove many miles to come to my door. He made meals for us both and ruffled my dog’s happy head. I was enticed and longed for the full knowing of this man. And so, we planned a weekend together. That’s when things got confusing, unspoken and just-not-quite there. We went to bed in a couple’s way — unclothed and touching — all parts near. Kisses were shared and sleep came in hugs. I attempted more intimacy throughout the weekend and was deterred each time.

On Monday evening over the phone, I asked this man who had shared my bed for three nights running why we had not made love. “Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young woman. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

After the resulting self-pep-talk, the affirming You Go Girls ensue in the comments.

Unasked, of course, is what a 59-year-old woman is doing dating in the first place. Ideally, of course, all relationship-minded women were married 30-40 years prior. Did Robin just suddenly find herself stranded in the dating whirlwind?

A clue:

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and my buttocks have dimples. My upper arms wobble a bit and my skin shows the marks of the sun. There is a softness around my waist that is no longer perfectly taut, and the pout of my abdomen attests to a c-section that took its bikini flatness — but gave me a son.

So she has a family. What happened? Was she widowed?

From her site’s bio:

I am a renegade and an outlaw. I am a dancing soul with a huge heart and a history strewn with errors and missed steps. I am a lady that did life “wrong” for more years than I care to admit. I tried to do a version of life that my culture and my family thought was valid. I failed miserably with much pain and sorrow to show for it.

From Amazon’s bio:

She is a divorced mother of two, has a friendly rescued dog named Scruffy and a self-assured cat named Sean.

It’s not explicitly stated, but she likely blew up her family for some divorce fantasy and left the framework of a family with someone who would have adored (or at least tolerated) her into her ‘invisible years’. Now she’s 59, without a family. Now she’s shocked that men don’t like 59-year-olds as much as they like 20- and 30- year olds, and she’s looking for sympathy and affirmation. And the man, of course, is the bad guy – unmentioned, again, are the questions about why she’s dating a 55-year-old instead of the same guys she found attractive when she was younger.

Lady, you had your shot and you blew it. You squandered your youth, beauty, and family. Screw.

A while back I wrote about how the public engages in the sort of uncritical pedestalizing of military service members that condoned irresponsible real-world decisions, particularly as pertaining to communicating about the military and budgetary matters. For instance, Tony Carr’s article got thousands of likes and shares (and demonstrated a knack for hitting a nerve with a target audience, if not critical thinking or factual writing.)

Well, lo and behold, the tide is turning away from the self-aggrandizing Warrior Hero™ mindset to something more realistic, namely that all soldiers are not Warrior Heroes and should not automatically be treated as such.

Two articles nicely capture the changing tone:

1) Hero Worship of the military is getting in the way of good policy

Not every service member is a hero. The quicker we realize that, the quicker we start creating a political environment that can foster genuine debate and answer the difficult policy problems we face.

2) I’m an Army veteran, and my benefits are too generous

Simply put, I’m getting more than I gave. Tricare for military retirees and their families is so underpriced that it’s more of a gift than a benefit. A fourfold increase in premiums would leave Tricare safely on the side of hearty largesse, yet the Pentagon’s attempts to raise premiums by as little as 10 percent have had shelf lives shorter than ice cubes.

Once we quit the pedestalizing, then we can move on to removing the implicit victim-framing of the military, and be able to have, as the first article notes, constructive policy decision-making untainted by political correctness.

 

First, Bergdahl is a weasel, and no one likes a weasel. Especially in trade for 5 guys who made killing Americans their mission in life.

But one might reasonably ask why Obama would think this was a good idea in the first place, besides the obviously politically expedient motivations.

The miscalculation stems from the worldview that veterans are victims deserving pity and sympathy and talk of being “warriors” to keep them happy. This worldview is implied by a disdain for military and the attitude that they are lower forms of life or inferiors that need coddling and special attention to keep motivated. This viewpoint is reinforced by all the talk of selfless warriorship and the various military culturally jingoistic expressions out there.

Naturally from this worldview comes the reaction to Bergdahl that

1) he was a victim (never mind how he got there)

2) other vets are victims (think “Wounded warriors” etc)

3) the public likes victim vets (“wounded warrior project”)

4) therefore, vets and the public will sympathize with Bergdahl and credit Obama for the release

Instead, the administration is finding out that no one likes rats, losers, or deserters, and that the military still has enough actual institutional pride to shoot this shitshow down publicly. Oops.

Very quick post, it’s like a 5-min essay contest before work – may update with links & etc later:

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was retrieved from Taliban holding recently in exchange for 5 senior Guantanamo Bay detainees. Now that we’ve got our guy back: when’s the investigation and legal action?

While reports of his capture differ, I seem to recall that some initial reports had him wandering off base with some Afghans without his gear or authorization.

On July 2, two U.S. officials told the AP a soldier had “just walked off” his base with three Afghans; four days later, the Taliban claimed “a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison” and was taken by Afghan militants. And in Saturday’s video released by the Taliban, Bergdahl indicates he was taken captive after lagging behind on patrol.

CNN says he left his post (hope this link stays active.. quote below):

Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl:
June 30, 2009 - A U.S soldier is captured in southeastern Afghanistan along with three Afghan soldiers, after leaving his post.

July 2, 2009 - A U.S. military official says that the soldier is being held by the clan of warlord Siraj Haqqani. The Taliban previously claimed to have captured the soldier.

July 19, 2009 - A videotape of Bergdahl is released by his captors.

December 25, 2009 - His captors releases another video, showing a soldier believed to be Bergdahl.

April 7, 2010 - A video posted on a radical website purportedly shows Bergdahl performing a series of exercises.

June 12, 2010 - Bergdahl is promoted to specialist.

Etc

Lemme tell you: Nobody “just walks off” his base. It’s really hard to do accidentally – there are typically walls and guards all over, and leaving the base is a big deal. It’s not going to your local corner market. It’s not hanging out with friends. It is a deliberate decision to leave.

Army General Order for Sentries #1 says:

  • Number 1. I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.

As far as falling behind on patrol… well jeez, then hopefully we’d have heard about the court-martials or removals from command of his Platoon leader, Platoon Sergeant, and possibly Company Commander, right? They were the ones responsible, and I’d hate to think the Army would just ignore something like that. In Ranger School, you have to count people into and out of your patrol bases twice , with two people doing the counting. If the counts don’t match, you have to do it over again. Why? Missing people is a huge deal. “Gone missing on patrol” is likely horse-hockey. Captured on patrol is more possible, but still unlikely because no one goes anywhere alone, at least in conventional units. And again, we’d have heard corroboration if the story were that clean-cut.

Overseas, a company in my battalion spent two weeks looking for a radio fill box. This was the case of a missing person. What happened to the people who (probably) died looking for him?  What were their names?

Folks, leaving your assigned post is called desertion and is punishable by penalties up to (rarely) death. Why are we granting this guy hero status before we know? When’s the investigation? When’s the trial?  People died for whatever happened, and the public needs to know if it was this guy’s fault, or whether he was victim of circumstances beyond his control. I suspect the former, but am willing to allow the possibility of the latter.

 

As always, factual corrections are welcome, particularly in this case.

This article‘s (“Ctl + Alt + Del: Resetting America’s Military”) authors posit that the military is poorly aligned and needs to be reorganized around a mission-based model instead of a function-based model.

Graphically, here’s what this would look like. Notice that the authors are essentially proposing that the military integrate vertically instead of horizontally, applying separate Mission Commands of “Defend the Homeland,” “Defeat Adversaries,” and “Maintain A Stabilizing Presence Abroad.”  Per the article, these would be termed “Global Strike Command”, “Defense Command,” and “Presence Command”.

Military Models

Currently, the military is “horizontally integrated” because each branch is responsible for its “specialty territory” across a variety of mission sets. However, the authors think this leads to redundancy in command and effort, which could be eliminated by assigning commands based on the mission set, not the resources available.  (Below graphics from the article are almost as nice as my sophisticated excel-based illustration above)

 

 

It’s generally acknowledged that the military is poorly set-up for all the things it has to do. However, we  ask: would the proposed structure work better than the military does now? Granted, this is setting a low bar to get over given our current military state of affairs, but it’s worth considering whether it’d be a net benefit to effectiveness.

This is great thinking, but I don’t think it would work, because the authors (who are probably more versed in military history than I) don’t explain exactly how those mission sets would be defined, or who would decide how a given scenario gets classified.

Today, “Functional Commands” (Being the Army, Air Force, Navy) get their mission sets primarily based on the terrain of the mission. Since military mission analysis from time immemorial has started from terrain analysis, this seems sound.

Vertical integration leads increased internal complexity. Each “Mission Command” would have to train, equip, position, and deploy its forces based around mission classification instead of ground-based requirements.

Let’s look at the Iraq or Afghan wars as thought experiments. Would Iraq belong (or get assigned) to the “Defense” command? Probably not. How about “Global Strike” command? Yes, likely so. Now here’s where it gets tricky: What about the “Presence” command? What were we doing in Iraq after 2004, ’05, ’06, ’07? Were we defeating adversaries, or stabilizing? Which command would that belong to? And if the answer is “Both”, then we run again into some of the same issues the authors were trying to avoid – duplication of effort in mission sets.

Similarly, how about Afghanistan? Would that be an “offensive” mission, or a “stabilizing” mission? We had ISAF as the umbrella command there, which was an acronym for International Security Assistance Force – certainly sounds more like Stabilizing than Defeating, right? Or more likely, it would transition over time, rendering the distinction meaningless and commands fighting over the mission scope and priorities.  Recently, the “Global Strike” part of our past conflicts has been intense but short, followed by stabilization operations — except when Fallujahs and etc break out. I’d be concerned about having a  “Presence” command that constantly had to call the “Global Strike” command in to apply force – effectively leading to the current status quo of ground forces as a unit running the war, but with more ground commanders (ugh).

And if the rejoinder is that each of these commands would have their own ground forces and suitable capabilities, therefore avoiding having to switch or co-locate forces, that again leads to the redundancies and complexities the authors are trying to avoid.

How would these different commands vie for resources? Congress would have to decide what the likelihood and type of each sort of mission would be for funding. This is adding one step of removal from the decision-makers. Currently, at least the Pentagon gets to submit the budget and prognosticate about conflicts. As poorly as it may do that, there’s little reason to believe that Congress’s funding allocation would better resource our martial forces.

The authors’ key selling point seems to be that

In a revolutionary break from current practice, these new commands would be responsible not only for executing these core missions, but also for developing the capabilities to achieve them. We would invest more in robotics systems of all kinds, protect existing special operations and cyberspace capabilities, and reduce less relevant capabilities like short-range aircraft and tanks.

Apart from the assumption that short-range aircraft and tanks are “less relevant” and unable to be developed concurrently with some other contemporary weaponry functions, the assertion that the Army, Navy, and Air Force don’t develop capabilities to achieve their missions is incorrect. While the Pentagon planning and development process frankly sucks, having 3 services develop capabilities in parallel seems like a very likely way to get 3x the crappy acquisition and development programs.

The analysis also seems to make some category errors in two directions – first, assuming that certain types of functionality will be needed by one force and not another, and conversely that some of the named skill types are interchangeable. Will not all three commands need similar cyber-warfare functionality? How about air power? How about naval power? For examples: submarines are not only offensive or only “Homeland Defense,” but play in both roles. A mission-based command system could easily justify doubling our nuc sub fleet and silo-ing their functionality based on their parent commands. Navy SEALS have a certain skillset that can be used for multiple mission types – but those SEALS are not fungible with Rangers or Green Berets, even though all are generally considered “Operators.”

Would the Defense command violate Posse Comitatus? I think it’d be well on the road if we were doing LID (my just-made-up acronym for Local Internal Defense).

The overall idea is good on paper, and I really like the idea of getting rid of generals- but the devil is in the details, and executing this vision would require not only extremely clear-eyed thinking about future mission requirements (which historically nobody’s been good at), but also current mission boundaries, and what happens when they intersect. As much as I wish it would work, the structure doesn’t seem feasible.

 

As a post-script, looking at the proposed re-org chart above (with all the arrows) seems to indicate that there’s no place really for straight ground-pounding infantry. It’d be a mistake of monumental proportions to leave infantry out of the picture, but that’s the sense I got from reading the streamlined space-age revamped military plan outlined in the article.

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