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Saturday, December 31st, 2005


Breaking the Proconsulate: A New Design For National Power” by Mitchell J. Thompson in PARAMETERS

A worthwhile read. Thompson argues for instituting true ” Jointness” across the spectrum of national power instead of the wary separation between combatant command like CENTCOM or PACOM modelled on the Vietnam era CORDS program. The current interagency structure for coordination, according to Thompson, does not work:

” The cataclysmic events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent Global War on Terrorism accelerated efforts toward interagency coordination, though Joint Forces Command already had been working on ways to achieve better integration at the strategic and operational levels. In October 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed that each Combatant Command form a “Joint Interagency Coordination Group” (JIACG) for a six-month trial period. The Secretary’s guidance to the Combatant Commanders stated, “JIACGs will be organized to provide interagency advice and expertise to Combatant Commanders and their staffs, coordinate interagency counterterrorism plans and objectives, and integrate military, interagency, and host-nation efforts.”17 This was clearly a more expansive mandate than anything previously envisioned. The November 2003 Joint Operations Concepts continued to wax eloquent on the value of the JIACGs:

‘JIACGs at each Combatant Command headquarters will significantly increase civilian and military coordination and enable a more complete understanding of policy decisions, missions and tasks, and strategic and operational assessments. They enable collaboration to integrate the capabilities from all instruments of national power to more effectively achieve the desired end state.18

Joint Forces Command and European Command created free-standing directorates, while Pacific Command, Central Command, and Special Operations Command embedded their JIACGs within their respective Operations Directorate (J-3). The JIACG is usually headed by a civilian director at the senior

executive service level, with approximately 11 on-site civilian and military personnel. The civilian members may include representatives from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice. This is conceptually enhanced by “virtual” (i.e., electronic) representation from other agencies. JIACG functions include participation in the full range of Combatant Command planning activities; advising on civilian agency campaign planning activities; presentation of agency perspectives, approaches, capabilities, and limitations; and providing habitual linkages to Washington, D.C., planners.19 As Colonel Harry Tomlin notes, the JIACGs bring “developed national and international contacts and networks that were previously unavailable to the Combatant Commander.”20

But the JIACGs have critical, even crippling, deficiencies. First, it is not possible, absent legislation, to mandate non-DOD participation. Indeed, the list of participants in the European Command JIACG as late as July 2003 was depressingly thin. As of February 2005, Central Command (CENTCOM) asserted that it conducted daily interagency coordination with the Departments of State and Treasury, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FBI in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, but it is unclear which of these were actually represented on the JIACG or how institutionalized this support actually was.21 The non-DOD agencies are usually operating on far more limited resources than the military, and the costs of JIACG participation often outweigh any perceived benefits. Second, there are strict limitations on the roles and responsibilities of the JIACGs. They cannot task civilian agency elements or personnel, reorganize civilian agency elements, prioritize the efforts of civilian elements, or unilaterally commit agency resources. They are a coordinating element only. Likewise, the Combatant Commander’s authority is “exclusively exercised over military organizations and units. [The JIACG] does not authorize or entitle the Combatant Commanders to direct the actions of those elements in theater representing non-DOD agencies, institutions, and organizations.”22 Third, and most fundamentally, the vastly differing organizational cultures of the civilian and military agencies that constitute the JIACG greatly hinder its smooth functioning. Tomlin writes that “few [non-DOD agencies] have cultures that embrace doctrinal structure, and it is often perceived as being confining and rigid. The absence of formalized procedures pertinent to interagency cooperation and interoperability can challenge and impair the JIACGs’ potential.”23 Even Joint Forces Command admits that there is a “hesitant buy-in” by the civilian agencies, who perceive “coordination” with DOD as tantamount to ceding control.24 The JIACGs have served a useful purpose; however, they are clearly not the final answer for interagency unity of effort at the strategic or operational level. “

Thompson even points to the need for flexibility in what amounts to Leviathan vs. System Administration scenarios:

Roman proconsuls were military governors, but a “holistic understanding of the operational environment” in any AOR today would have to recognize that the military element of power will often not be predominant. Indeed, one draft “Joint Operating Concept” states, “During conflict the joint force is the ‘supported’ agency. In prevention and reconstruction operations, the joint force is the ‘supporting’ agency.”44 The Department of Defense early on took the lead in the planning and execution of the Global War on Terrorism, with the quiet acquiescence of the National Security Council. This was despite the proclamations of the President, and near universal recognition in the federal government, that the Global War on Terrorism is a multiagency effort. This was partly due to the practical reality that the resources available to DOD dwarf anything else in the US government, but it was also due to institutional habit and inertia. The Department of Treasury is not accustomed to campaign planning, but CENTCOM does it for a living. Nonetheless, success in a conflict such as the Global War on Terrorism requires that the US government break these old habits and the proconsulate system that sustains them

Given the right kind of high-level team this model could work very well. Eisenhower, for example, was the Allied Supreme Commander in the European theater but his shadow was Robert Murphy, who managed secret diplomacy and clandestine OSS operations for Eisenhower as the personal representative of the President of the United States. In Vietnam, another good example of a ” fusion” role would have been John Paul Vann in his civilian capacity of Senior Advisor in II Corps Military Region.

However institutionalizing this model would take a considerable amount of time. ” Jointness” in planning and executing military operations took years for the armed services to reach a level of reliability. How much longer would it take to bring Treasury and the Energy Department on board or overcome the notable reluctance of State or the IC to become tightly integrated with bureaucratic behemoth that is the Pentagon ?

Secondly, the senior figures with the statesman-like qualities and the experience to manage the military appropriately are relatively few in number. Thompson is proposing replacing a ” proconsular” military system with a set of figures who are a combination of Secretary of State, Defense Secretary and CIA director in miniature. Less experienced appointees are simply going to be bamboozled by their own staff and military advisers and more senior figures who have the requisite experience from say, having been National Security Adviser, are unlikely to accept so junior a position in an administration’s hierarchy.

Nevertheless, a concept that bears further examination.

Saturday, December 31st, 2005


Hmmm…let’s see how I did. Here’s my post from January 2005:

1. “Increasingly desperate and frustrated at his inability to maintain command and control over al Qaida cells and his political relevance, Osama bin Laden will abandon some of his trademark patience and preference for apocalypric terrorism. Bin Laden will begin taking greater personal risks and authorize larger numbers of smaller-scale attacks in order to maintain his personal preeminence and to prevent Zarqawri from emerging as his successor. Chances of a ” break ” happening to capture or kill Bin Laden will be increased.”

Well, we stand no closer to catching Bin Laden today than a year ago. Zarqawi is the annoited
“emir” of al Qaida Iraq but al Qaida has not, by accident or design managed any apocalyptic actions of terror on the scale of 9/11.


2. “The United States will eventually adopt a ” controlled civil war” strategy in Iraq to contain the disorder of the Sunni Triangle by actively building up Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite militias to complement the emerging forces of the central government and U.S. military personnel. The goal for the former forces would be increased stabilization and presence of their home areas to ” ratchet down” the insurgency’s geographic area of operation. Sunnis will face a Hobbesian choice of turning to the central government for protection or taking their chances in territory controlled by an insurgency that will be turning on Sunni civilian ” collaborators” with increasing ferocity under the ghoulish influence of Zarqawri and brutal ex-Baathist commanders. If this strategy succeeds, terror in Iraq may decline to Baader-Meinhoff/Red Brigade/IRA heyday levels or the Sunni triangle may become ” Little Algeria “, reminiscent of the democidal civil war between the GIA and the Algerian government. If the strategy fails completely, a full scale civil war could erupt out of the control of American military forces.”

I called this one – we just haven’t reached the endgame yet.


3. “Domestically, the Bush administration will heavily favor minorities and women in their high profile political and judicial appointments to neutralize expected Democratic attempts to play the race and abortion cards. Karl Rove will be looking to cement a structural realignment in American politics via ” peeling off ” the critical percentages of minority and women voters that Democrats need in competitive districts and states to win elections. Administration policy proposals will be in line with this strategy. Assuming Condi Rice gets the Senate’s nod for Secretary of State she will be one of a handful of people the Bush administration will be ” grooming” for 2008.”

I’d say I did well with women – Rice, Spellings (Sec. of Education), Huges, Miers – though the latter nomination proved to be a debacle it certainly bore the Roveian signature to divide Senate Democrats. Alberto Gonzales and Carlos Gutierrez ( Sec. of Commerce) were high profile appointments aimed at the Hispanic community. The previous effort, so visible in Bush’s first term, to court African-Americans via high-profile appointments has been limited to Condi Rice, albeit at the most prestigious cabinet post. So, I was corect in emphasis but not intensity with minorities.


4. “The Bush administration will surprise the world by offering Iran ” a grand bargain” on relatively generous terms which the clerical regime will ultimately reject, clinging to their hopes of a breakthrough in their nuclear weapons program. A joint American-Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is high as the Bush administration, unlike its predecessors, will not feel that the good opinion of the Arab-Islamic world or EU diplomats is worth the risk of letting Teheran in the nuclear club.”

The Iranian pot continues to simmer while the loose-cannon lunacy of ultrahardlineIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes the prospect of a strategic ” grand bargain”, all but impossible. A military strike on Iran by the United States, Israel or both is a real possibility but has yet to occur.


Overall, not bad. About a .350 average as a prognosticator. I’ll take it.

Dave at The Glittering Eye evaluates his own ability as a seer and oracle.

Saturday, December 31st, 2005


For those of a pessimistic bent – I don’t agree with everything these authors have to say in their respective critiques of U.S. military and foreign policies – the Germanomania that sometimes prevails at DNI is most odd considering that the Germans lost both world wars through strategic and tactical blundering – but they raise points that are worth careful consideration:

Lessons Learned from the American Expedition to Iraq” by ” Fabius Maximus ” at DNI

I’m not privy to the identity of the writer who posts under this nom de guerre but he has an excellent command of history. I tend to agree with his assessment that our grasp of the Salafi-Jihadi -Qutbist-Takfiri network is remarkably poor considering that we are four years into a global unconventional war. That however, comes from having a drastic shortage of military and intelligence personnel with the requisite language skills and deep in-country experience and not moving heaven and earth to train more. Fundamentals should be our first priorities.

From “Kingdaddy” at Arms and Influence – The Counterinsurgency Series:

Counterinsurgency is Hard, Part IV

Counterinsurgeny is Hard, Part III

Counterinsurgency is Hard, Part II

Counterinsurgency is Hard, Part I.”

Whether I agree or disagree with their conclusions, it is always a pleasure for me to see a person with some expertise take pains to share their knowledge at this level of depth. There is much to like here as ” Kingdaddy” understands the importance of leverage, legitimacy and systems in waging unconventional warfare as a moral and political conflict as well as a military one.

That’s it.

Friday, December 30th, 2005


I had lunch with my friend and fellow blogger Dr. Von in unlovely Schaumburg yesterday and between bites and social chatter, Von did his level best to enlighten me about the finer aspects of network theory and the discovery of the operation of power law across different fields. Another topic we touched on was the ideas of the educational and cognitive theorist Howard Gardner.

According to Von, who has posted on Gardner’s latest book, Gardner posits ” Six Constants of Leadership“:

1. An Identifiable Story or Message

2. Consideration of the Audience

3. The Development of an Institutional or Organizational Foundation

4. The Embodiment of the Story by the Leader

5. The Interplay betwen Direct and Indirect Leadership

6. The Issue of Expertise

Dr.Von has an analysis an explanation for each of these “constants” so I am not going to reinvent the wheel but I was struck at how well Gardner’s argument fits in with my call for building ” state resilience” and John Boyd’s constructive concept of having a” Theme for Vitality and Growth”. If you look at ideas in history that enjoyed explosive growth – Christianity, Islam, Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, Democracy – you see time and again leaders who embody ( or appear to) the the revolutionay qualities they preach and by this synchronicity between message and action, shift cultural paradigms ad spark revolutions.

Moral conflict can change scenarios – not merely battle within them.

Thursday, December 29th, 2005


Dr. Demarche at The American Future posed a fundamental question the other day. as a rule, I like questions of this nature because they are helpful in terms of quickly putting matters into perspective. the good doctor’s question was:

“…is there such a thing as “the” international community? If so who are its members? In what arenas does this community act? What is America’s role in this community, and that of the U.N.?”

In my view the various nation-states of the world form a “community” with a level of communal fellowship several orders of magnitude less than what prevails in a given New York city subway at about 1 a.m.

The phrase ” international community” is a popular one but it remains an oxymoron. States do not have anthropomorphic qualities though we are fond of imagining that they do because artful phrases reduce complex dynamics to simple, easily understood, imagery. Even if states did have such intrinsic behavioral qualities the ” international community” resembles nothing so much as hapless mob, milling about, some fighting amongst themselves, while the ten largest, strongest and best armed men half-heartedly attempt to keep the chaos at a tolerable level.

Any ” community” that the media speaks of really refers to a transnational elite of diplomats, high government officials, journalists, academics, central bankers, bureaucrats of international organizations and a strata of highly connected and influential private citizens. A relatively tiny group that nonetheless numbers in the tens of thousands, many individuals ” know” each other at least in the sense that residents in a small town know one another. Westerners, particularly Europeans and Americans, dominate the decision-making process of this ” community” when the rare occasions occur that effective action is actually going to be taken.

Despite the great diversity of nationalities in this ” community” you find that the members hold similar opinions and values on many subjects, particularly relating to political economy and their own self-importance. Few of the have much in common with the average citizen of the countries they purport to represent or any sense of moral urgency in a crisis – unless that crisis threatens to destabilize the status quo in which they themselves are personally invested in terms of their career. Several million dying of starvation, genocide, AIDS, warfare or natural disasters is of less concern than protocol and precedence.

They are seldom the working diplomats, war correspondents or aid workers who go to dangerous places with a real risk of getting their heads shot off by wild-eyed young men. There is an enormous difference between talking to locals in Herat and to an ABC news crew in Manhattan, Brussells or Washington, DC. They have acquired, to paraphrase John Keegan, ” the air of the seminar” about them.

But an international community ? No.


Callimachus at Done With Mirrors takes another view

More posts on ” international community” from:

The Glittering Eye
Marc Schulman

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