…as the saying goes, so termed because they likely were smoking one to think Goldwater-Nichols up!
Commander Salamander has a post pointing to an admiral’s gripe about the Chairman.Â Salamander’s asked for comments, so here they are.
Okay, first point, a pedantic nit.Â In the comments “Paul” askes what’s joint about anti-submarine warfare, assuming the answer is “nothing”.Â However, Paul completely misses the point on why ASW *is* of joint interest.Â ASW is slow, resource intensive, and drives logistics…meaning the other services can’t get their job done if we Navy types are dinking around trying to keep the cargo from getting sunk.Â The beans, bullets, and band-aids have to get there somehow.
The article referenced, written by a retired Navy admiral, isn’t about being joint.Â It’s about the JCS and the author’s perceived need to have the CJCS run everything in a theater war vice the COCOM.Â It’s arguable, but frankly not the point Phibian raises.
I don’t know one way or the other about how loud the CJCS’s voice should be compared to how loud it is–my guess is that they weren’t playing beanbag, as one nearly died from the stress and the next one stood up quickly after–but looking at things like the SLRG (link is to an interview; the Esquire article is much better) and the sheer amount of time the secretary and CJCS spend together, and the ability that the CJCS has and does use to advise the President directly, tends to me to weaken the author’s case.
One of the author’s gripes reads to me as “The Chairman didn’t ask for More Troops!!!11!”….which sounds like a different kettle of argumentative fish entirely.Â That gripe doesn’t fit his argument well since every single one of those high ranking folks have been saying “we’ll give the commander on the ground what he wants”–which I bring up not to discuss the “number of troops” argument but to note that there was already deep cultural and individual agreement with the process that gave the answer it did.Â I don’t see how changing the deck chairs in the E ring is going to change that desired “independence” while maintaining civilian control of the military.Â And if it’s a gripe about not being able to stand up to the secretary–we’ve got deeper problems, then, in how we build and grow our senior leaders, and a re-org ain’t going to fix that.
(Off topic: Round about 2003, how many general and flag officers do you think were selected during the previous administration?Â Draw what conclusions you wish…)
Arguing about joint qua joint is sooo 1985.Â We’re jointed.Â Done.Â Too many layers, too many GO/FOs, too much inefficiency, sure.Â But. Desert One won’t happen like it did and neither will some other similar silliness, like the execution of the Grenada operation, or the Army/Navy split of “every other day” for pre-WWII intel traffic, a situation as effective as the Romans electing to have Paulus *and* Varro alternate command of the army on different days to get their butt kicked by Hannibal.
I see a lot of joint staff interaction here at a COCOM with long term issues, in much the same way we interact with the services: resourcing, buying new platforms and systems, policy, another check in the block before the plans get to OSD.Â Which makes sense, since it’s all Puzzle Palace to us guys at a COCOM.
Yeah, getting purple is a pain in the proverbial.Â (I will not recount the difficulty of getting the correct check in the block for some schooling, but it is nontrivial.)Â Yeah, some guys get to not go to operational jobs to do silly other things.Â On the other hand operational is not always the right answer–because if we made that choice consistently we’d eat our intellectual seed corn, as it were.Â At some point the guys in such an insular and unknowing community as my previous one have to know some people, processes and language common to the other guys shooting.Â Or they become, as is the wont of an insular community with manning pressures, more insular…then irrelevant…then uninfluential…then gone.Â And that’s just for submariners relating to the rest of the Navy!
The next argument, the one I would find very interesting, comes from similar pressure as caused Goldwater-Nichols to get there in the first place: interagency…