Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why the Obama Administration Is Impotent in the Gulf 2

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has demonstrated the capability to make Command decisions. He replaced the Secretary of the Army and the Army Surgeon General over the Walter Reed scandal. Now, he has proposed disestablishing the US Joint Forces Command.

When commentators such as David Gergen, CNN and LTG Russell Honore, USA (ret) on CNN were suggesting that the Obama Administration needed to improve Command and Control in responding to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Incident, Secretary Gates could offer no help from the Defense Department.

The closest to a “General Operations Command” that currently exists in the Unified Command Plan (UCP) is the United States Joint Forces Command. The same day the press reports that a woman, for the first time, is appointed to head one of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies the Secretary of Defense proposes the disestablishment of the only command with responsibility for conventional (general purpose) forces.

Strategically, eliminating one of the major organizational elements is the fastest way to cut costs. Unless our intelligence community is smart enough to accurately identify all our threats in a timely manner, we need to maintain some general purpose forces that can be deployed to counter the actual threat that materializes – be it natural or manmade.

The Navy has traditionally resisted “jointness”. For the old LANTCOM to become the Joint (Forces) Command was asking a lot but we need something to fulfill the mission held by the Readiness Command while it was in existence.

One of the problems is that strategic people can’t understand a generic Joint Task Force. When I first read the definition of a JTF (in JCS Pub 1, I suppose), I think it included the word “temporary”.

The US Constitution empowers Congress to provide an Army and a Navy. The Federal Government is responsible for our common Defense. There is no need to invoke the Commerce Clause.

Doing away with the United States Joint Forces Command may be the smart thing to do. If so, I hope the administration does it “smartly”. I am not optimistic. I had already concluded that the Obama Administration is blind with respect to Military C2.

During the Cold War, "conventional" meant non-nuclear. The logical definition now for "conventional" appears to be non-special.

We need to maintain traditional (Army) Military Command and Control (MilC2) capability.


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