Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Joint failure

If you can wade trough the usual Boston Left kabuki dance of chanted, obligatory dogma, Bacevich has some good points worthy of discussion - though I don't buy all his argument, especially when he gets personal; it is the system no the people - and flows into something I have come to believe is essential; throwing Goldwater-Nichols onto the dustbin of history. It ain't working. Bacevich, however, pushes the argument up to 11; he wants to get rid of the JCS, all of it - which I don't think is a good idea; what they need is a restructuring.
...abolish the position of JCS chairman altogether -- and the entire JCS system along with it.

History will render this judgment of Pace, who succeeded General Richard B Myers as chairman in September 2005: As U. S. forces became mired ever more deeply in an unwinnable war, Pace remained a passive bystander, a witness to a catastrophe that he was slow to comprehend and did little to forestall. If the position of JCS chair had simply remained vacant for the past two years, it is difficult to see how the American military would be in worse shape today.

I left that part in for fair warning - Bacevich is grinding more than one axe here - and this lets you know where his biases are. That doesn't mean that everything he says should be dismissed though.
Dissatisfaction with the Joint Chiefs dates virtually from the moment in 1947 when Congress passed the legislation creating it. Trying to fix the JCS soon became a cottage industry. The widespread unhappiness with Pace's performance, culminating in his de facto firing, affirms that these various reforms have failed.
The creation of a permanent JCS two years after the war was intended to replicate that success: drawing on the accumulated wisdom of their profession, the new Joint Chiefs would help the president and Congress maintain adequate but economical defenses, avoid unnecessary wars, and wage effectively those wars that proved unavoidable.
Measured by these criteria, over the course of six decades the Joint Chiefs of Staff have performed miserably.
...instead of military professionals offering disinterested advice to help policymakers render sound decisions, the history of this civilian-military relationship is one of conniving, double-dealing, and mutual manipulation. As generals increasingly played politics, they forfeited their identity as nonpartisan servants of the state. Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, each for different reasons, came to see the members of the Joint Chiefs as uniformed political adversaries.
Even worse for the US military - now those in Congress see military leaders as political adversaries. It is bi-partisan as well.

Even while he was in uniform, one of the worst kept secrets in DC was Shinseki's grooming as the next Senator from Hawaii. Both Parties treated him as such - and the fault was his. The closer those in uniform get to politics inside the Beltway, the worse it is for all of us.
In 1986, these efforts culminated in the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which designated the chairman (no longer the Joint Chiefs collectively) as principal military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense. In effect, Goldwater-Nichols demoted the service chiefs while greatly expanding the clout and standing of the chairman.

The result was Colin Powell. Appointed chairman in 1989, Powell proved himself in short order to be the savviest, most charismatic, and most influential officer ever to occupy that post. In some respects, he was enormously effective, seemingly fulfilling the expectations of the reformers who had devised Goldwater-Nichols. In the end, however, he overplayed his hand.

Politically, Powell posed a problem. As he skillfully exploited his superstar status to insert himself into a range of controversial issues, Powell demonstrated a capacity and willingness to preempt the politicians, limiting their options and investing his own policy preferences with an almost irresistible authority.
OT, the next para points out something a lot of you don't want to accept, but I will keep reminding you of. For most in the chattering classes, being gay is just as important as....
Powell proved that the JCS chairman could now in effect tie the president's hands. During Operation Desert Storm, he convinced President George H. W. Bush to end the ground war after just 100 hours; he insisted that U. S. forces after the Cold War retain the capability to fight two large-scale conventional wars simultaneously; he questioned the wisdom of humanitarian intervention in the Balkans and elsewhere; and he torpedoed President Bill Clinton's efforts to permit gays to serve openly in the military.
As usual, they bring out Shinseki as some kind of hero - which he isn't in my book. A blatant political animal who in a post-911 world he was more worried about huge white elephants like Crusader and other pie-in-the-sky systems, and is never held account for his lack of focus on what the infantry soldier needed to win in a light-infantry war. He is as guilty as Rummy et al - if you feel the need to point fingers (which I think is counter-productive at this point).
When Donald Rumsfeld served as defense secretary, silent assent became an absolute requirement, as army chief of staff Eric Shinseki learned, to his chagrin. When Shinseki testified, during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, that occupying the country might require many more troops than were
available, Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz went out of their way to humiliate and discredit the general for having the temerity to venture an independent opinion. The message to the senior officer corps was clear: those interested in getting ahead were expected to toe the party line.

Pace exemplifies this breed. Only once during his time as chairman has Pace asserted himself -- and that, somewhat bizarrely, was to express his view that homosexuality is immoral.
Ha, ha Anon - more gayness!!!

As for the next, I didn't know this, but WTF!
Perhaps symbolic of that willingness to accommodate, even as Iraq continued to unravel, Pace found time to write a pre-sentencing letter on behalf of convicted perjurer Lewis "Scooter" Libby, assuring the trial judge that Libby is a selfless team player. Pace's involvement in an issue so tinged with partisan overtones was at the very least unseemly, and raises troubling questions about his priorities, if not about the hierarchy of his loyalties.
At least the Left now admits that it was a political trial, but Pace was wrong here nonetheless.
The JCS lies beyond salvaging. Before you build a new house, you tear the old one down. For the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it's wrecking-ball time. A chairman possessing vision, strategic insight, and integrity ought to be the first to acknowledge that.
Very true. But once a gain, we need to restructure the JCS, not throw it away. We also need to look why we have one COCOM running both AFQ, IRQ, looking at IRN, Egypt, Saudi, and until AFRICOM stands up, HOA; not to mention port-n-starboard with EUCOM on Lebanon. Not effective, not efficient.

My take to wind this up - the base problem is not that there are too few military leaders giving advice, no, the problem is that we have reached the point that you almost need the translator from the Oracle of Delphi to tell you who is running what. Let's look at Afghanistan just as an example. If the President has a question or wants advice, how many GOFOs does he have between him and the Operational Commander? He has the Chairman and the other Service Chiefs in the JCS - all Four-Stars - but they serve more of a support and advice role and are very far removed from what is actually going on, and they have no direct role in Operations. So he goes to the Strategic Commander - CDR CENTCOM, ADM Fallon a US Navy 4-star (who he also goes to for all the above mentioned hot-spots while EUCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM cool their jets). From CENTCOM the information flow (US Only - NATO, run by Gen. Craddock a US Army 4-star, is as SHAPE the NATO Strategic Commander and via the Operational Commander in ISAF - COM ISAF who is Gen McNeil another US Army 4-star - in charge of Afghanistan now - wont' always be a US guy) bypasses the whole Operational Level to the only US commander in charge (Tactical Commander) of 1 of the 5 Regional Commands, RC-East, MG Rodriguez a US Army 2-star. I think I have that right. A diagram helps.

Does this sound like an efficient and effective system that does not need to be fixed? And whose fault is it? US Military. Want to know what would happen to a Senior Officer who pushed a change in the
COCOMS and JCS? See Billy Mitchell.

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