Pace: Military, Civilian Collaboration Critical to Military Decision Making
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2006 Senior military leaders play a big part in decisions made within the Defense Department and have plenty of opportunity to make their views known, the highest ranking military officer told Pentagon reporters today.
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the decision-making process is based on "a great deal of dialog" that involves close collaboration between the department's military and civilian leaders. He disputed highly publicized assertions being made by several retired generals that Rumsfeld disregards senior military leaders' advice.
Rather, Pace said, he and his vice chairman, Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, often spend hours a day with the secretary "listening to all the information being provided to him (and) giving our best military advice."
In addition, the military service chiefs meet with Rumsfeld at least weekly. Combatant commanders travel to Washington at least three times a year to meet with the DoD civilian and military leadership over a three-day period. Between those sessions, they're frequently involved in videoconferences or other discussions with Pentagon leaders.
"We are reaching out, either formally through a war plan staffing process or informally through a discussion process, to the combatant commanders and asking their opinions about whatever the issue of the day is," Pace said.
"There are multiple opportunities for all of us, whatever opinions we have, to put them on the table. And all the opinions are put on the table," he told reporters.
"But at the end of the day, after we've given our best military advice, somebody has to make a decision. And when a decision is made by the secretary of defense, unless it's illegal or immoral, we go on about doing what we've been told to do," he said.
Pace said it's important that the American public understand the dialog that takes place within DoD and to recognize that decisions regarding the country's defense and its men and women in uniform aren't made in a vacuum.
"It's important ... that they understand ... that all of us who you trust with the lives of your sons and daughters ... are going to speak our minds as we should to the leadership," he said. This, he said, will ensure leaders "can make decisions based on as much knowledge as possible so we all have the same set of facts," he said.
These facts may cause people to form different opinions, but ultimately will help "lead us to a dialog that gets us to the right solution," Pace said.