Issue Date: September 13, 2004
DoD creating guidelines to manage global force
By Jason Sherman
Times staff writer
Pentagon leaders are crafting new guidelines for managing forces around the world that could blur traditional assignment of ships, aircraft and troops to regional commanders.
The new global military force management policy is a bid to improve the agility of U.S. forces to rapidly respond to crises anywhere in the world and to “change the way we do business,” said an official involved in shaping the policy.
Andy Hoehn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, is heading the effort, first called for in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review.
The aim is to eventually establish a “global surge force pool” of units available for quick reaction. With new tools for synchronizing overseas rotation plans of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine units, senior military officials expect to have more forces available for short-notice operations and to tackle presence and deterrence missions more efficiently around the world.
“We’re looking at how rotational forces generally will be allocated every year to go to different regions for training, for operations, for exercises, for security cooperation activities with allies, and so on,” a senior Pentagon official said.
A single joint-forces provider, U.S. Joint Forces Command, would oversee the management of this global pool of troops, as well as recommend force allocations to regional combatant commands.
The policy would break with the traditional practice of allocating specific forces to regional commanders, who then rely on those forces to execute war plans.
For example, Pacific Command, U.S. Forces Korea and European Command are each assigned operational units. In contrast, Central and Southern Command are provided forces as needed.
The new force management system would allow for more flexible movement for forces in and out of all these theaters.
This policy will not affect the U.S. military’s unified command plan, say Pentagon officials. Many activities at each of the regional U.S. military commands, including cultivating political and military contacts, fulfilling treaty obligations and executing theater security cooperation plans, will not change.
To put the new policy in motion, war planners are exploring new ways to prepare for contingencies. Rather than building plans that rely on a set configuration of forces, planners are looking to develop plans that can be adapted to accommodate the forces that are available.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “believes that with the advent of adaptive planning and the move to transformed forces, we can slowly move to a situation where we can adapt our plans to the forces that we have on hand ... we can be much more flexible,” said the official involved in shaping the concept.
But this kind of adaptive planning depends on analytic tools that are not yet available to help combatant commanders quickly assess the risk of executing a particular plan with the forces that may be available.
Such computer tools would allow commanders to have real-time information about the status of all forces, including readiness levels and their ability to perform jointly with other services against a particular adversary.
“It’s fairly radical, but radical in a good sense,” said the Pentagon official. “We need a way to do business to ensure we meet our swiftness objectives by using a combination of forces,” both forward-deployed and based in the continental United States.
The emerging global military force management policy builds on the relatively new approaches to rotating forces emerging from the services.
The Air Force is crafting an Air and Space Expeditionary Force Presence Policy. Each AEF is a self-contained Air Force combat package with strategic and tactical aircraft and command-and-control and logistics support.
Meanwhile, the Navy is jettisoning its usual six-month aircraft carrier rotation scheme and deploying flotillas on targeted missions.
“To use the Navy’s ‘presence with a purpose’ idea … that they’ve rolled out, I think you’re going to see more of that sort of thing happen on a global scale,” said a senior military official.
Similarly, the Army has embraced a new approach to both organizing and deploying its forces.
Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, is working to restructure his service into more modular components — from the current 33 brigades into 43 more flexible brigade “units of action.”
Some of the principles guiding this approach are being put into practice by Pentagon planners who recently began preparing the fourth rotation of U.S. forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, said an Army official.
For example, the Army is looking at building a 36-month cycle for reconstituting a brigade that returns from an operational rotation, training it and deploying it for another rotation, either on a presence or combat mission.
Its an excellent idea. One that needs to be implemented. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that there won't be too many cooks involved to spoil the soup.
Red tape needs to be omitted. They could learn a few things from SOCOM's SOPs.
Thanks for the post.