Small Wars Journal

Updated: Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components

Department of Defense Directive 5100.01: Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components has been reissued. This is the first major update to this Directive since 1987. DoDD 5100.01 establishes the functions of the Department of Defense and its major Components, supporting the core mission areas of the Armed Forces, which are broad DoD military operations and activities required to achieve the strategic objectives of the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and National Military Strategy.


After a quick read this evening a few things jump out at me (but this does require further study)

From my parochial perspective in my SOF foxhole, this is a very current document as it even includes MISO (which was only approved by the SECDEF on 3 DEC), yet it still includes Joint Forces Command but JFCOM is mentioned only in the USSOCOM section a couple of times and once in the Air Force section and nowhere else. The staffers updated MISO but did not catch the JFCOM references that probably should have been removed.

I thought there is a very interesting phrase in this USSOCOM paragraph:

Commander, USSOCOM, in coordination with the Military Service Chiefs, is responsible for the preparation of SOF necessary for effective prosecution of all armed conflicts, however such conflicts are characterized, and in all other military operations, except as otherwise assigned, and in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of USSOCOM to meet the demands of the full range of military operations.

"However such conflicts are characterized" is an interesting caveat which would appear to be pretty open ended for SOF.

Note USSOCOM responsibilities for SFA and the USSOCOM Interagency Partnership Program. Interesting even that it discusses USSOCOM amphibious and airborne responsibilities (though the Army retains primary responsibility for airborne doctrine and TTPs and equipment and the Marine Corps for amphibious operations)

A very interesting section on the Common Military Service Functions begins on page 27. USSOCOM is woven into this section in greater detail than any other previous DOD directive that I can recall.

I find this section somewhat troubling:

(1) Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and information operations, to include electronic warfare and MISO in order to provide situational awareness and enable decision superiority across the range of military operations.

This paragraph seems to lump MISO and IO with intelligence and put it under the purview of the intelligence functions. I think in the modern era we have always considered IO and MISO as operations functions and not intelligence (though of course in WWII and the Korean War Psychological Warfare did fall under the G2's staff supervision).

Interesting that in the Army Section one of the functions that the Army has responsibility for is CAO - Civil Affairs Operations but it does not specify MISO. The bulk of CA and MISO forces are in the Army in the Reserve Components so I would have thought the Army would also have MISO responsibilities as well.

There is no mention of ASD SO/LIC in the entire document yet the USD(I) is specifically discussed.

This is a very interesting document but I need to study it further. On first look it is very comprehensive and should be very useful in clarifying roles and functions better than has been done in the past (hopefully so since that is the purpose of the directive!!!)

Bob's World

Sat, 12/25/2010 - 8:04am


Four things jumped out at me:

1. The detailed reminder from the SECDEF to senior officers what their chain of reporting is in talking to the President. (Is that a standard component of such a document, or is it an effort to reel in Generals and Admirals to ensure the Sec Def and/or Chairman aren't cut out of the loop?)

2. The phrase you indicated in guidance to SOCOM: "for effective prosecution of all armed conflicts, however such conflicts are characterized,"

Hopefully this is a wise recognition that not all combat is war and is a precursor to moving away from the recent trend to demand that every combat situation we place our military into be labeled as a war. There is far too much strategic risk and baggage that comes with wars, and by making "combat" the triggering criteria we have taken a political decision away from our senior political leaders and handed it to our opponent at the tactial level.

But if this just applies to SOCOM, it may indicate that DoD will still fight for "war" status whenever conventional forces are employed in combat, but will employ SOF outside that status. This was once the primary mission/benefit of the Marine Corps in their ability to be employed as a combat force when and where needed without triggering the "war" status and associated baggage.

3. The order of SOF missions. I assume there is an implied priority, that keeps JSOC on top with #1 and #2; and the rest of SOF and what the rest of SOF does trailing behind. Not sure if that really matches with "most likely" missions, but weights it toward "most dangerous."

4. Finally, the statement on airborne capabilities. Given the heated debates, both within the beltway and in every theater, over service responsibilities to provide service lift platforms to SOF; I suspect that this benign line will be the centerpoint of much debate. It will also be read very differntly by Service and Theater commanders than it will be by SOF Commanders; and of course links right back to the prioritization issues in my #3 above as well.