The Exigencies of Global, Integrated Warfare: The Evolving Role of the CJCS and his Dedicated Staff
Authored by LTC Michael S. Bell.
In order to better understand the character and enduring attributes of the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and inform future Defense reform initiatives in the post 9/11 era, the author traces the Chairman's evolving role since the inception of the position during World War II through the Goldwater-Nichols reforms of the 1980s. Although Defense reformers often focus on more efficient business and budgeting practices, his narrative compels greater consideration of the value of apolitical military advice, civilian direction of policy, and legislative oversight on the military instrument of power. The position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported by a dedicated Joint Staff, remains relevant and crucial in a security environment where technology is extending the capabilities and reach of both state and nonstate actors. Arguably, the need to transcend a single service, capability, or regional perspective is even more essential today than it was when Congress formulated Goldwater-Nichols almost 20 years ago.
Professional military advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the Chairman or CJCS), informed and supported by an independent Joint Staff, is more important than ever in the conduct of global, integrated operations after 9/11. For more than 60 years, the Chairman has played a vital role by providing military advice to the President, the National Security Council (NSC), the Secretary of Defense, and the Congress within the context of civilian control of the U.S. armed forces. The advice of the Chairman consists of much more than his personal views and opinions; it represents the synthesis of the broad operational experience, military judgment, and technical expertise found in a Joint Staff dedicated to the Chairman.
Today, the United States has entered a new phase in the history of the Republic, and the armed forces have embarked upon the initial campaigns in a worldwide conflict against terrorism. The exigencies of the post-9/11 security environment and the demands of a longterm global war underscore the need to broaden and formalize the operational and supervisory responsibilities of the Chairman while retaining the fundamental, enduring character of the current system. In the prosecution of a global war that demands a range of professional military advice and insight from a strategic, joint, and integrated perspective, it is essential to retain an independent staff to assist the CJCS in formulating his national security input to the President, the NSC, and the Secretary of Defense, and in providing his strategic direction to the armed forces. The Chairman, furthermore, should be designated as the principal military advisor to the Homeland Security Council and entrusted with responsibility for supervising the Combatant Commanders and integrating and synchronizing their regional efforts with the actions of other government agencies into a global campaign.
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