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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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Skelton offers DOD modest nudge away from budget discipline tsunami June 21, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Two movements of tsunami-like size are bearing down on the Defense Department and the all-inclusive, un-prioritized mission set that it laid out in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).  As the drawdown dates for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan approach, those missions will be seen more and more as outlier cases rather than models of the new normal.  Budget discipline is the second movement, and that tsunami is peaking.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), recently took a tentative step in recognition of the oncoming budget discipline tsunami.  Specifically, Rep. Skelton publicized his intent to create a special body or process charged with identifying opportune cuts in the defense budget.  Like the Defense Department’s own plan, however, Rep. Skelton intends for this money to be reallocated within the Defense Department rather than to generate true savings for the country.  It also seems that Rep. Skelton presently plans to consider only efficiency increases rather than accepting the far more difficult, but important, task of disciplining missions.

This tentative step is insufficient for the problems we face.  Defense spending is at heights unreached since World War II while our economy is at depths unseen since the Great Depression.  The Defense Department’s mission set needs discipline, and that discipline needs to generate real and meaningful savings for the country.

Though insufficient, Rep. Skelton’s plan still is very useful.  His voice is authoritative, and adding it to Secretary Gates’ statements on spending constraints lends unique legitimacy to the issue.  Likewise, a number of steps are available within his parameters that would advance the issue significantly.  The Stimson Center’s Dr. Gordon Adams addressed many of these in recent testimony before HASC’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.  They include: (more…)