Early indications are that this year’s review will not drive
toward any sort of fundamental redefinition of core missions or roles and functions provided by any of the services. At a meeting in April, two-star generals and flag officers from all the services agreed to leverage the Defense
Department’s work in building a catalog of “joint operating concepts” in how it frames “core mission areas.”
The second part of the review, however, is expected
to feature quite a bit of action. This part will examine
seven issues, including warfare areas Skelton believes
have “changed to such a degree in recent years that the
responsibilities of the various components of the
department have become confused.”
The issues areas are:
■ Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/
unmanned aerial systems.
■ Intra-theater lift.
■ Cyberspace operations.
■ Irregular warfare.
■ “Unnecessary duplication of capabilities and effort
across components,” which one Pentagon official said
could spark “a real donnybrook.”
■ DoD governance roles and responsibilities.
■ Supporting interagency roles and missions.
“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t bite off
more than we can chew,” said one of the senior Pentagon officials leading the review, mindful of the fact that
the clock is quickly running down on political
appointees now running the Defense Department. “If
something isn’t broken, then we’re not interested in
looking to try to fix it.”
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said he believes that the trend toward interdependence among the services will set this review apart
from previous efforts.
“This roles and missions review is a lot different
from the one we did in the 1990s because we are much
more joint that we used to be. We are all committed to
making [the 2008 review] turn out right,” he told
reporters at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast June 9.
During the 1994 roles and missions review, the
Marine Corps was keen to retain its fixed-wing aircraft,
and the Navy was out to protect its capital ships. This
year’s review is not expected to revisit either of those
debates, Pentagon officials said. However, there are
some areas of intense interest.
The Navy is keen on maintaining its fleet battle networks, which means the issue of cyber operations —
in which the Air Force recently asserted a leadership
role — will be a matter whose outcome is important to
the sea service, said Robert Work, vice president of
strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and
Long-term plans to possibly fly an unmanned combat aerial vehicle from the deck of an aircraft carrier
gives the Navy an interest in whether the review assigns
a single service responsibility as executive agent for
unmanned aircraft systems.
The Navy and Marine Corps could be affected by
the review’s examination of irregular warfare, Work
said. For the Navy, the issue is whether to enhance in
any way its Naval Expeditionary Combat Command,
perhaps by adding riverine squadrons or bulking up
capacity in some other form.
For the Marine Corps, a key issue in this review will
be “how much of the service should be optimized for
irregular warfare,” Work said.
Marines can be expected to advance the vision espoused by their commandant, Gen. James Conway, of
a “two-fisted fighter” with the capacity to conduct
counter-insurgency operations — the jab — as well as
conduct amphibious assault operations from the sea —
the heavy punch.
To represent the Navy and Marine Corps in this review,
which ultimately involves service strategy and resource
plans, the sea services this spring followed steps taken
by their Army and Air Force counterparts and created
permanent offices and staffs to participate in their regular, high-level assessments.