Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A More Rational Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A More Rational Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines

Article excerpt

As is evident from this week's defense hearings, Congress is incapable of moving expediently. After all, numerous committees are planning hearings on defense, and each must plod through an interminable preliminary exercise known as opening statements. Some may think it desirable for Congress to move with all deliberate torpor. But that cannot be said of the institution that is the subject of these hearings. Indeed, the United States military will continue to operate more like a group of middle-aged lawyers than a streamlined fighting force until it fundamentally

reorganizes. Today's increasingly obsolete division between Army, Navy, and Air Force derives from congressional attempts to assert control over the military by making it less efficient. It is a vestige of the 1947 National Security Act, which acknowledged the need for increased coordination among different areas of the military, but spawned three separate, independent services - Army, Navy, and Air Force - each headed by its own Cabinet-level official. The consequences have dogged us ever since. The various branches have not only developed redundant capabilities, but they can't coordinate these overlapping capabilities even when called on to do so. Each branch, moreover, has sophisticated bureaucracies and high-powered constituencies to protect its parochial interests. To resolve this chronic inefficiency, the military must abandon the traditional service structure and reorganize according to function. Unlike today's dysfunctional military, each of a functional military's sub-organizations would have a unique mission and the lone ability to perform it. Take air attack capability. Between the Air Force's F-15 and F-16, the Navy's F-14 and F-18, the Marines' F-18 and AV-8B, and the Army's Apache and Kiowa attack helicopters, all four branches currently have the ability to wage formidable air campaigns. A functional scheme would replace these diffuse capabilities with a single entity responsible for air operations. What's more, because the primary purpose of air capability is to complement land operations, it makes sense to consolidate the two. …

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