Hey Hey Ho Ho, Jay Eff Comm Has Got To Go

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

First off, there is very little—in fact, almost nothing—to disagree with on Secretary Gates’ speech regarding standing down Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII) and J-6.  So here’s a kickoff:

“The task before us is not to reduce the top — the department’s topline budget; rather it is significantly to reduce its excess overhead costs and apply the savings to force structure and modernization.””

OK.  Next, how about a bit more detail:

“First and most significantly, earlier this year the military services were assigned the task of finding more than $100 billion in overhead savings over the next five years.  Unlike budget cutting efforts of the past, the services will be able to keep the savings they generate to reinvest in higher-priority warfighting needs and modernization programs.”

Now what I still don’t get is how, given that OSD submits a DoD budget to the administration for inclusion in the President’s Budget (PB), and that the PB is a point-of-departure for Congressional marks, how can it be asserted that “the services will be able to keep the savings they generate”?

That is a promise that can’t be banked.  The intent, but it’s too confusing to address given the planning, programming, budgeting, and spending processes, is to allow such savings to be proposed to the PB and to Congress.  Getting the funding is never a done deal regardless of front-end promises.

Still, the specific moves make profound sense from both a functional and political point of view.  First, the proposal to close an organization that’s a part of the OSD staff shows that the Secretary is serious about reducing overhead and that he’s willing to make cuts in his own organization.  Next, shutting down JFCOM, a command without a place to fight and who adds more overhead than jointness, also makes sense.  These organizations are fairly tightly compartmentalized which may lessen (but not eliminate!) the ‘not in my district’ effect.

The ‘not in my district’ effect might even be mitigated by having more ships built at the Newport News Shipyard, offsetting some (most, much, all?  Don’t count on it) of the cuts at JFCOM.

Is there an over reliance on contractors in some military functions?  No doubt.  And the flip side is that there are likely other functions where we should have contractors doing the work while getting government people out of the way (think NASA and commercial space).

It’s one thing to come up with a bold vision to cut fat.  It’s another to make sure the fat is actually cut.  This knowing-doing disconnect is an onerous problem.  But when the Secretary gets off the stage saying “all I will say is that I’m going to be here longer than either I or others thought,” it’s strongly suggestive that he’s willing to keep on grinding.

  1. T says:

    couple of thoughts on the closing of JFCOM …
    JFCOM runs the Chairman’s exercises … think big GCC exercises … through the Joint Warfighting Center. I don’t see this going away, more likely a patch change back to Joint Staff. JFCOM owns a group called the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command which deploys comms, PA, planners, KM, Intel folks quickly to stand up JTFs … there is a contingent of these folks getting ready to depart to Pakistan right now… I see this group moving to Joint Staff J3 … there are probably others that’ll just patch change. Frankly, i think Sec. Gates may se the conditions for the Services to run afoul of Nunn-McCrady because in many ways JFCOM’s forcing function is the only reason the Services are playing together …

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