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
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