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Turn the question around: Secretary Gates’s speech on the all-volunteer force October 8, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveled to Duke last week with a somber, bracing message about our all-volunteer military.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he rightly noted, are the longest campaign fought entirely by volunteers since the Revolutionary War.  Gates used this fact as a call to service, asking the country, “How long can these brave and broad young shoulders carry the burden that we – as a military, as a government, as a society – continue to place on them?”

This question is exactly backwards.  Rather than stress-testing our troops to see how long they can carry this burden, Gates should turn the question around to ask how long we intend to place it on their shoulders.  After all, we chose and continue to choose these missions, as well as the means by which we conduct them.  For example, as recently as last December, the President chose a manpower-heavy counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan, urged on by Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and Gates himself, rather than a narrower counterterrorism approach advocated by the Vice President. Read more…

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…