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by Ambassador David Passage, Small Wars Journal
The beginning of a new Administration, particularly one which offers the prospect of significant departures from recent policies, offers an opportunity to re-think existing institutional structures and practices. This is particularly so, coming nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War, the Fall of the Wall, the triumph of the Eagle over the Bear, and the incorporation of many former opponents [Warsaw Pact members] into the West's principal security alliance, NATO.
Added to this mix is President Obama's excruciating need to achieve economies clear across the US Government's operating spectrum to finance domestic economic recovery and our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense spending is the largest single non-entitlement element in the USG budget. It will be under incredible pressure over the next several years. We need to re-equip our armed forces with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of materiel and munitions to replace what has been expended in those two conflicts. Vehicles of all types are worn to the point of barely being worth repatriating to the US; we are flying the wings off our aircraft, the rotors off our helicopters, and are using much of the remainder of our military equipment to within inches of its programmed life. And we have yet to calculate the ultimate cost of restoring our capacity to deal with other contingencies waiting out there in the high grass to rise up and bite us and our friends and allies.
And as every reader of SWJ knows, the way to sensibly wring economies out of existing budgets and institutional structures is not by across-the-board cuts: it's to re-examine and terminate -- ax -- whole programs.
EUCOM, PACOM and CENTCOM have clear, well-defined and unquestioned war-fighting missions as well as robust force structures to support them. SOUTHCOM and the newly-formed AFRICOM do not and should not. Might this not be a good time to take a new look at our existing global military command structure?