Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."

4.6.08

[Liveblog] "The Cavalry"

Under Secretary Cohen introduced the six "B" thrusts (Bombs, Bugs, etc.) by describing the key interoperability challenges of a diverse homeland security enterprise.

Noting the U.S. founding fathers' intent for an inefficient and confrontational form of government to prevent tyranny (something Under Secretary Cohen tells the Hill, and the Hill tells him), he said that DHS is five years old -- and implored us to compare to the maturity of our own five-year-old kids or grandkids. He went on to note that Goldwater-Nichols (the landmark act that united the armed forces of the U.S. military into a joint force) is 23, and we're still not wearing purple uniforms.

The graphic above shows the escalating challenges of a major crisis: from the local sheriff to county police, state troopers, National Guard, federalized National Guard, to the "cavalry": U.S. Northern Command. As local First Responders are overwhelmed, the next higher tier has to provide relief.

NORTHCOM is Cohen's "executive agent" for experimentation, and said that "NORTHCOM is for DHS what U.S. Joint Forces Command is for the Dept of Defense." This is an interesting parallel, because there were some of us on the USJFCOM staff (after 9/11, when we lost the geographic area of responsibility to focus on force providing, training, integrating and experimenting) who believed that NORTHCOM was the ideal command to assume the "Force Provider" role.

During my first visit a few years ago to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, headquarters of NORTHCOM, I was amused to see the logos of NORTHCOM's service components -- the commands that train, equip and provide the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to the Combatant Commander for joint missions. The logos were for Forces Command (Army), Fleet Forces Command (Navy), Air Combat Command (USAF), and Marine Corps Forces-Atlantic (USMC).

The irony? Those are the very same component commands under USJFCOM. So if NORTHCOM is to DHS as USJFCOM is to DoD, then how does the President reconcile two of his Cabinet departments if both DoD and DHS have competing needs -- and the same jar of force structure to draw from?


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2 Comments:

At 5/6/08 06:55 , Blogger J. said...

I'm not sure that there is a disconnect re: NORTHCOM and JFCOM. First of all, NORTHCOM's not allowed to dialogue directly to DHS in normal (other than a crisis) situations. Interagency dialogue is only through ASD(HD) and Joint Staff. Second, I think the (very big) difference is that NORTHCOM provides forces and operational control, JFCOM does plans and studies.

JFCOM staff may come from and compete with the same forces that NORTHCOM would use for staff, but that's why COCOM staffs are tight and heavily supported by contractors. JFCOM doesn't do operational units anymore, right? So there are no real competing points of view.

Maybe I'm missing your point though. I think what Cohen may have been saying is that NORTHCOM provides demos and exercises and tabletops for DHS in a similar fashion that JFCOM does for DOD. In that light, there is a parallel, but again, I don't see a conflict between the two COCOMs in as far as what the White House has to deal.

BTW, great coverage of the S&T conference, I will have to examine in full.

 
At 6/6/08 07:53 , Blogger deichmans said...

J., USJFCOM is still the operational force provider for the Joint Staff, and since ADM Giambastiani's tenure in Norfolk they have assumed a "Global Force Provider" role (i.e., even CINCUNC/USFK forces are apportioned via USJFCOM on order from the Joint Stasff.

However, you may indeed be right that Cohen was simply drawing a parallel with the USJFCOM J9 role (as Executive Agent for Experimentation).

Where this all gets interesting is akin to the old "two MTW" challenge: what do you do if you are decisively engaged in one theater (CENTCOM) and another (PACOM, or even NORTHCOM) flares up. When I worked for Marine Corps Forces-Pacific, I noticed that only I MEF and III MEF (respectively in Calif. and Okinawa) practiced *both* OPLAN 1002 (Iraq) and 5027 (Korea) in full. II MEF (North Carolina) had little to no role in the ULCHI FOCUS LENS summer exercises in Korea -- even though they were the primary Marine Corps force structure for "5028", the Korean contingency when I MEF is engaged in CENTCOM.

Now consider the HLS/HLD missions, the oft-stated prioritization of NORTHCOM's AOR over other geographic COCOMs', and ASD(HLD) McHale's interpretation of "Active Defense of the Homeland": NORTHCOM not only takes primacy in force structure allocations, but also in operational execution if CDRUSNORTHCOM believes an overseas threat in another Area of Responsibility presents a danger to the homeland.

 

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