Hagel on Force Structure

I think it was fair to say I wasn’t a fan of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel being nominated as Secretary of Defense.

Having said that, he’s not totally managed to infuriate me so far. Indeed, by quashing the fatuous Distinguished Warfare Medal (ie, the Drone Medal) he’s earned a tiny bit of goodwill from me.

And now comes news that in a speech at National Defense University, Sec. Hagel said another bit of common sense:

“Today the operational forces of the military — measured in battalions, ships, and aircraft wings — have shrunk dramatically since the Cold War era. Yet the three- and four-star command and support structures sitting atop these smaller fighting forces have stayed intact, with minor exceptions, and in some cases they are actually increasing in size and rank,” Hagel said.

The last major revision of the DoD establishment was the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act.  Perhaps in the almost 30 years since then, the strategic picture has changed a bit.

I do think massive cuts to the overhead of the services could be instituted with little real diminishment on our true combat power. Mind you, the institutional side of the services are important. Much of the immense combat power of the US resides in our ability to “systemize systems.”  But a hard look at the accretion of staffs and positions, I suspect, would show a great many that are more self-licking ice cream cones than eventual precursors to combat power.

I strongly suspect that devolving some power from the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) back down to the services, particularly in the area of acquisition, might streamline processes.

We shall see.

3 thoughts on “Hagel on Force Structure”

  1. The last five SecDefs have made similar statements about reducing the flag officer ranks. Like the drone medal repeal, I see nothing here of the metal that Hegel’s supporters suggested in the appointment hearings. “What do the polls say?”

  2. I would do away with SecDef and go back to a SecWar and SecNavy as it was before unification. Some of the excuse for the top heavy five sided wind tunnel is the “joint” structure that has been forced on the military by both unification and Goldwater-Nichols. As just one example, there is no reason that BuPers could not be headed by an O-6. Nimitz was head before he was sent to Hawaii and was just a one star at the time. Similar inflation has taken place across the board.

    An interesting aside, back in the 80s, the certificate of commissioning given an Ossifer was a War Department form, not a DOD, or DA form.

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