Academic journal article Military Review

Advantages of Assigning Forces

Academic journal article Military Review

Advantages of Assigning Forces

Article excerpt

The Department of Defense (DOD) has traditionally looked to save money through reform and efficiencies in procurement. With the pressure it now faces from shrinking budgets, the time has come to look beyond a narrowly focused, materiel-centric approach to effective management of forces. One solution is to reform the DOD process for distributing forces to combatant commands: global force management (GFM). This article demonstrates that by using GFM to assign forces to combatant commands (CCMDs, depicted in the figure), the DOD could manage forces more effectively within reduced budgets while balancing the interests of the services and the combatant commands. In addition, the DOD would meet the intent of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 to "place clear responsibility on the commanders of the unified and specified commands for the accomplishment of missions assigned to those commands and ensure the authority of those commanders is fully commensurate with that responsibility." (1)

The first section of this article gives a brief explanation of the key elements of GFM--allocation, apportionment, and assignment. It includes a discussion of administrative control (ADCON) in relation to assignment. The next section provides recommendations on how to assign the force. The third section applies those recommendations to show why assigning forces to CCMDs would be beneficial to accomplishing the DOD's mission. The final section discusses specific factors needed to support implementation.

How Global Force Management Works

GFM addresses allocation, apportionment, and assignment. It is also important to understand how ADCON relates to GFM, especially to assignment.

Allocation: distributing forces and resources for specified missions. Allocation is a familiar construct to many service members who have supported Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. According to the Global Force Management Implementation Guidance, allocation is the temporary transfer of control of a force (normally, operational control [OPCON]) for a specific mission. (2) Since about 2003, the DOD has distributed forces to support worldwide operations by filling requests for forces through allocation as published in the Global Force Management Allocation Flan. (3)

Apportionment: estimated availability of forces for planning. Apportionment does not represent a command relationship. Apportionment estimates the availability of forces and capabilities for planning purposes to help combatant commanders know their resource constraints when writing or evaluating contingency plans. Apportionment tables provide details about force capabilities and timelines showing when units will be available for deployment. Apportionment tables have evolved recently to provide more details on capabilities and better estimates of when forces will be available for deployment.

Assignment: distributing forces through enduring command relationships. The focus of this article is assignment of forces to CCMDs. Service secretaries are directed to assign all operating forces to specified and unified commands. (4) Combatant commanders direct operations through combatant command (command authority), a term often shorted to "COCOM" or "COCOM authority" According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 3122.01A, COCOM authority is the "nontransferable command authority established by title 10 (Armed Forces), United States Code, section 164, exercised only by commanders of unified or specified combatant commands unless otherwise directed by the President or the Secretary of Defense." (5) COCOM authority includes all aspects of OPCON (controlling military operations). In addition, it includes certain daily support associated with an assigned force, including authority to assign or reassign subordinate commanders or officers, reassign forces, conduct internal discipline and training, and direct logistics. …

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