Well, this is interesting. This blog has covered Rumsfeld's Rules before... how about Rumsfeld's priorities? The U.S. Secretary of Defense allegedly used this handout during his 22 Jul 03 presentation at the Brigadier General Training Conference. As our email correspondent put it: bq. "Remember, ths is Rumsfeld talking to "his generals," guys who were commanding brigades in Afghanistan and Iraq at the "charm school" for Army one-star general officers." Well, maybe and maybe not. If it isn't Rumsfeld's, it still makes for a fine set of talking points that fit observed trends. So it's not exactly a big secret or anything. We lay out the list, and give readers the background to understand both the trends at work and the debates behind its items. As always, your commentary and thoughts are also more than welcome.
U.S. Defense Department: Top Priorities for Next 18 Months (7/03-1/05) 1. Successfully Pursue the Global War on Terrorism * Reset the force * High value target plan * Global Peace Operations initiative Reset the force... yeah, they need that. I think I like the "high value target plan." To those asking: "does this mean al-Qaeda, Iran, or North Korea?", my answer would be "yes." This GPO initiative looks interesting... seems Liberia may be a test case for something greater. See yesterday's AfricaPundit Regional Briefing, and esp. Part 3 of The Buggy Professor's materials in Top Topics. 2. Strengthen Combined/Joint Warfighting Capabilities * Joint CONOPS(concept of operations) to integrate air, land, sea, and ISR(intelligence, surveillance, reconissance) assets * Translate Joint CONOPS(concept of operations) into acquisition strategy * Strengthen combined/joint exercises and training * Bring jointness to the lowest appropriate level "Jointness" matters. During the Grenada invasion in 1983, some units on the ground couldn't communicate with Navy aircraft. One enterprising soldier solved this by phoning the Pentagon to request an air strike, using his cell phone and VISA card. That obviously isn't an ideal solution. Operation Iraqi Freedom showed just how far the U.S. has come in that regard, and this matters because everyone else, even the Europeans, are still stuck more or less back where the USA was in 1983. The result is a much deadlier U.S. force, with more available firepower at any given time. Keeping the focus on "jointness" as a priority means the push is on to go one step further and make this part of the way U.S. forces think, and something its troops simply expect. 3. Transform the Joint Force * Lighter, more agile, easily deployable military units * Military culture that rewards innovation and risk-taking The first topic is already underway, as we can see with the Stryker program and its accompanying air-transportable force. Right idea, wrong implementation? Maybe, but this is definitely the direction things are pushing. As for that culture rewarding innovation and risk taking, I've seen many large organizations try to implement it. This is the hardest thing of all, period, because so many of the environmental and reward systems in place work against it. Kudos to him for trying because you have to try, but I'm not expecting much. 4. Optimize Intelligence Capabilities * Refocus intelligence priorities for new defense strategy * Strengthen intelligence capabilities for the 21st century That is to say, Pentagon intelligence capabilities, something Rumsfeld has been building up since 9/11 in order to give his Special Ops et. al. the kind of intel they need, on time. The CIA has developed a problem over the years of not being "down and dirty on the ground". While reports indicate that they're getting better, Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense have no intention of making do until the CIA gets its act together. Will this fragment the intelligence community even further? Yes. Will it improve effectiveness? Probably. Tidying up can wait for another day, we have people on the ground and there's a war on. 5. Counter the Proliferation of WMD(Weapons of Mass Destruction) Obvious. As is the fact that this is a defense priority, as well as a diplomatic one. The two go together, and need each other to be effective. See: "High value target plan." 6. Improve Force Manning * Develop 21st century human resource approach * Longer tours, revised career paths, improved language capabilities, etc. * Place experienced joint warfighters in top posts This is a big deal, and could be very positive. Looks like some of the things Col. John Boyd, Boyd disciple Col. Vandergriff (initial post | follow-up & presentation), Edward Luttwak, and others have been saying may be making an impact. We'll see. 7. New Concepts of Global Engagement * Implement revised Security Assurance and Cooperation Plan and refocus Overseas Presence/Basing * Continue to fashion new relationships worldwide, update alliances, build coalition of unequal partners, refocus security cooperation and initiate a foreign constabulary force That last one sure is interesting. He could mean Iraqis. Then again, he could also mean a sort of American Foreign Legion weighted more toward reconstruction and MP types than the French model. As we've noted here before, there is a congruent model for this... it's Cuba, and their model has worked when used. Trent also covered some of the auxiliary issues in "The American Ground Troop Shortage." 8. Homeland Security * Clearly define the Department's role in Homeland Security * Organize the Department to implement Homeland Defense and provide support to Homeland Security Translation: "Figure out what we're supposed to do, even if the folks at DHS haven't really figured out what they're supposed to do." 9. Streamline DOD(Department of Defense) Processes * Shorten PPBS(planing, programming & budgeting system) and acquisition cycle time * Financial Management Reform * Shorten DoD processes by 50% * Output metrics built around balanced risk and President's Management Agenda The budgeting and acquisition cycle time is a major problem - weapons systems are taking 10-15 years from planning to fielding, and that's just too long. Unfortunately, fixing it will require a major mindset shift. For example, this mindset will accept cutting the Marine helicopter fleet to equip it with V-22 Ospreys. Yeah, yeah, longer range, more speed, more capacity, great. Also more maintenance, more expense if you lose one, hence more protective systems and doctrines focused on protecting the investment, hence even higher cost, longer development time, less availability, and sometimes even reluctance to take risks with the equipment. Bad idea. Personally, I'd rather replace the CH-53s and CH-46s with updated version of conventional helicopters (the EH-101 is an example), which work just fine and use proven technology. That way more Marines can be air-transportable, which lets the Marines do more interesting things with concepts like seabasing and widens their choice of tactics on the ground. As we've found with the Internet, availability = capability too. Against low-tech opponents, "more stuff and good enough" has advantages of its own. Numbers also make a difference when surges are required, and allow U.S forces to absorb losses without making the next mission unviable. Alas, the procurement culture of the Pentagon rarely thinks that way, and despite scattered successes like the JDAM, broader change will be difficult. If Rumsfeld can actually make a dent in that mindset, he'll be one of the greatest Defense Secretaries ever. This "Pentagon Procurement Death Spiral" is the major problem at the heart of more and more monies going for fewer and fewer resources, and that long-term trend needs to turn around. 10. Reorganize DOD(Department of Defense) and the USG(U.S. Government) to Deal with Pre-War Opportunities and Post-War Responsibilities * Rationalize NSC(National Security Council) and Homeland Security Council * Reduce time to respond; create a surge capability The concept of "surge capability" is very positive, and it's worth watching the next 18 months of announcements and activities with this concept in mind. This is especially relevant as we watch the USA begin to revise its foreign bases strategyies. It will also improve the USA's tactical flexibility if successfully implemented, and shorten its OODA Loop in situations like Iraq post-war. On the bright side, Donald Rumsfeld is an 8th Dan Memojitsu Master of wielding bureaucratic steel. On the other hand, look at this list and its time frame. Good luck, Mr. Rumsfeld. You and your team are going to need it.