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Department Begins Roles, Missions Review

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2008 – Work has begun on a review of the U.S. military’s roles and missions, senior defense officials said here today.

The congressionally mandated study looks to ensure the department is organized effectively and in ways to make it easier for the warfighter, a senior military official, speaking on background, said.

He and a senior defense official said the report will be finished in November and must be turned in to Congress before the fiscal 2010 budget is submitted in February.

The study is a joint effort by the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Congress specifically asked DoD to look at eliminating unnecessary duplication of capabilities and efforts across the services. However, the department and the Joint Staff will take the opportunity to examine six other specific issues: unmanned aerial systems, intratheater airlift, cyber operations, irregular warfare, internal department organization and responsibilities, and interagency roles and missions capabilities.

In the unmanned aircraft system area, the department may include some larger intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance issues. The U.S. government also sees the cyber world continuing to grow in importance, and the study will look at ways the department should posture itself for the future.

A senior Senate-confirmed civilian and a three- or four-star general or flag officer will lead each of the seven roles and missions teams, the senior defense official said.

Expertise from around the department will inform the groups. U.S. Strategic Command will be heavily involved, for example, in the cyber team, and U.S. Special Operations Command will be heavily involved in the team looking at irregular warfare.

The teams will look at what the core mission areas are, what key military activities are required to support the strategic objectives in the various strategies, and how the department should best organize itself to accomplish these activities and goals, the senior military official said.

Many of the civilians involved with this effort are political appointees and will depart in January when the next administration takes office, “so we want to make sure we’re looking at what is achievable in the timeframe of the report,” the senior defense official said. The exercise also will help the next administration as it works on the next Quadrennial Defense Review.

The department will look at these questions from every angle and determine what joint capabilities are needed, the responsibilities of the services, and how the services fit together. Officials want to determine “how to best organize and govern to get those capabilities out there and develop future capabilities,” the senior military official said.

The team looking at the interagency roles and missions will draw on the realities of the war on terror and the need for help from civilian agencies. The review is not an interagency effort, nor will any conclusions be binding on any department outside defense. Still, the study can point the way ahead both for core mission areas -- where other government agencies support DoD -- and in noncore areas in which DoD acts in support of other lead agencies.

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