By Jen DiMascio
After the president signs the defense authorization bill into law, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is prepared to send a letter urging the Defense Secretary to redraw the roles and missions of the Pentagon in a way not done since 1948.
Last year, the military was essentially trying to get Congress to referee mini roles and missions spats on programs like the Joint Cargo Aircraft and the issue of executive agency for unmanned aerial vehicles, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) said.
"They wanted us to decide whether the Army or the Air Force should manage both of those weapon systems," Skelton said.
But Congress should not be in the position of making that decision, Skelton said.
In 1947, President Harry Truman–also from Missouri–had the task of untangling overlapping missions and problems that cropped up in the military during World War II.
Truman brought the leaders of the services together in Key West in 1948 and created what has become the U.S. Air Force, Skelton said.
Now that the Defense Department presides over so many missions and technologies not available in 1948–or the 1950s, when the agreement was slightly amended–it is time for DoD to start the review. According to Skelton the review will be a "major undertaking, underlined."
Skelton has kick-started the process with the authorization bill, which directs the Pentagon to start a roles and missions review every four years–the first one starting this year.
Last year, Skelton also created a roles and missions panel that is due to publish a study in about three months, panel member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said at the National Defense Industry Association’s Precision Strike Association meeting yesterday.
As part of that study, Sestak has been advocating joint staff control of funding for command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
C4ISR is common to all of the services and key to precision strike, said Sestak, a former Navy three-star admiral. Drawing on that experience, Sestak said three key incentives drive action within the Pentagon–patriotism, promotion and control of funding. The last major defense overhaul, Goldwater-Nichols, used the incentive of promotion to make the services recognize the importance of joint operations.
In that way, giving Joint Staff control over funding is the best way to change joint procurement for the future, he said.