Why can’t the regular U.S. military organizations do anything?
That’s the question my old friend Col. David Maxwell asks. A fearless Special Operations officer who has commanded in the southern Philippines fight, among other places, he said he didn’t mind having the following note attributed to him, as long as it is pointed out that the opinions he expresses are his own and not ...
That’s the question my old friend Col. David Maxwell asks. A fearless Special Operations officer who has commanded in the southern Philippines fight, among other places, he said he didn’t mind having the following note attributed to him, as long as it is pointed out that the opinions he expresses are his own and not official in any way. Nor do they reflect the views of Joe Torre or any other National League manager except Manny Acta, for all I know.
Why do we have to create new HQ or task forces or agencies for every new problem that we come across? Every time we create a new task force, organization, or agency it is additive to the organizations that already exist and must be manned from the existing personnel strength (for the Army the end strength cap of 547,400 active duty Soldiers). We never seem to reduce any of the requirements for existing organizations when we create new ones – all the new good ideas (and every one of the organizations that are established does good work and they are focused on solving a particular problem) just keep getting resourced (Congress is particularly helpful here in creating and resourcing new organizations to solve particular problems). And once an organization is created it follows the “bureaucratic prime directive” of sustaining its existence; therefore it continues to find more problems to solve and more ways to justify a budget and even increase its manpower. Rarely is there an organization established with a sunset clause.
But we should ask ourselves why do we need to create new organizations for every problem? Are not the Service Staffs, the Joint Staff, and the GCC Staffs inherently supposed to be problem solvers? Why can’t we solve problems with the existing staffs?
And then I think something we need to look hard at as well is our whole Unified Command Plan (UCP). Do we really need GCC’s all over the world (and I failed to mention that almost every GCC has assigned to it a Service Component Command as well as subunified commands such as theater special operations commands or in the case of the Pacific Command, as an example – US Forces Korea and US Forces Japan). All of these commands and organizations require manpower from all the services. And how many of them actually ever seem to fight the war when it happens? Usually we will create a new organization to do the warfighting and these organizations are a combination of “ad hocery” (Joint Manning Documents) melded with existing units in some cases (let’s look at US Forces Afghanistan and Multinational Force Iraq). Those are the warfighting HQ and they must have sustained manning from all the services but they did not exist nor were they likely projected to ever exist when Service strengths were determined.)
The burning questions we should be asking are: Do we need GCCs when we establish separate warfighting HQ (e.g., are the GCCs “warfighters” in name only)? Should the Service and Joint Staffs be able to solve the problems instead of creating new task forces and organizations? And when new task forces and organizations are deemed necessary, what staff or organization should be eliminated? And lastly if we say that the existing Service and Joint Staffs cannot take on the additional problem solving requirements because of existing requirements – have we looked at the existing requirements and determined if perhaps we are doing the wrong kind of work?
On top of this, active-duty Army end strength is carrying many thousands of recuperating soldiers in the Wounded Warrior program, I am told. It is good to keep them on active duty, but doing so is counted against the Army in counting its end strength, which is capped by law.
Photo via Flickr user Okinawa Soba