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No Civilian Left Behind: Educating the Elusive “Interagency” October 6, 2010

Posted by bfadtest in Analysis.
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By Laura A. Hall and Jonathan M. Larkin

“Interagency” has become a favorite noun and adjective in the national security community (perhaps we’ll even hear it as a verb one day!).  Over the years, the need for greater cross-department planning and operations has engendered many efforts to improve the way organizations work together.  The proposed legislation’s goals – to foster greater interagency cooperation and to provide extended professional education, training, and interagency assignment opportunities to national security professionals across the U.S. government – can only be applauded.  The sponsors are serious legislators.

Rep. Geoff Davis has long been an advocate for national security human capital development and Rep. Ike Skelton took part in the debate that led to Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which established the joint military command and improved the ability of U.S. armed forces to conduct joint operations in the field.  However, “Goldwater Nichols II,” this is not.  The bill suffers from several problems that could serve to make it yet another unmet mandate. Read more…

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1. John Mongan - October 7, 2010

I attended the NDU-hosted unveiling of the National Security Professionals Program several years back, as one of several DOS reps. It started w/a DOD employee flashing up a slide and observing the border of the slide was colored “platinum” (looked blue to me). He proceeded to inform us that at DOD people referred to colors: green=army, navy=navy, light blue=air force, red=marines. And when you put it all together, they called it “purple” for joint. “Platinum” was going to be the “Interagency color.”

As we quickly pointed out, this summed up DOD in a nutshell: it decides civilian agencies need a color (and all the same one at that!), and then proceeds to pick it out for us. The conference went downhill from there.

As we pointed out later, one flaw in all this is that it will lead to creeping military dominance of the entire government: when civilian agencies inevitably don’t get the funds for extra positions to give people these interagency developmental opportunities, DOD, which never found an employment option for O-5s and O-6s it didn’t like, will put people into these rotations. Ten years later, and every federal agency is run by military officers, because they’re the only people who’ve had the required interagency experience to get senior jobs. Won’t be a great moment for democracy.

If they want to legislate “interagency Goldwater-Nichols,” I’m all for it. But half-measures would be worse than the status quo.


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