Thursday, May 25, 2006

NEWS FLASH: Breakthrough on Chandra Levy Case! 

Based upon the newly invoked "safe base" theory of Rep. Hastert we now have strong suspicions that the Chandra Levy case could have been solved much quicker if only law enforcement could have searched Rep Condit's office, where her body was reportedly hidden for several months. No information is available on which Congressional office is hiding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa or any other literal "skeletons in the closets."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Little Closer ... a Little Closer ... a Little Closer ... POW! 

Ann Althouse cuts quickly to a key point in GEN Hayden's nomination to run the CIA: the roll the NSA surveillance program will play in confirmation hearings. I don't think the White House is solely playing politics with this, but I do smell another Rope-a-Dope brewing with this nomination. Nothing will emphasize with Joe Sixpack the relative difference between the Republican and Democrat approach to national security than hearing another chorus of how monitoring international calls involving suspected terrorists outside the US is a deadly threat to all Americans' civil liberties. I've not seen any statistics to prove it, but I'd bet a paycheck that over 50% of Americans don't even know how to dial an international phone number.

Let's see, on the one hand we have frothing mouth-breathing Democrat Senators and pundits making claims of civil liberty violations without a single specific claimant or example and on the other hand we have a calm, well-spoken military man explaining how the surveillance was limited just to those with international contacts with known or suspected terrorists. Which do you think will come out looking better to the public? The only strike I can see against GEN Hayden is that horribly ugly blue Air Farce uniform.

Ditch Rummy? Nah... 

To tell the truth, I haven’t paid much attention to those who of late have been so vocally pushing for Sec. Rumsfeld’s resignation. It’s not that I feel Rummy is a water-walker, although I do think he’s got a much higher batting average than the top paid MLB slugger. Neither is it that I feel Bush and the SecDef are far too stubborn to pay this criticism any mind. Basically, I pay it no attention because I see the entire premise of Rumsfeld leaving, either voluntarily or via the Porter Goss door, to be rife with so many negatives that any potential gain would be completely masked or impossible to realize.

While I am not always successful, I consciously try to act deliberately. If I am to make a decision or take action I endeavor to see beyond the finality of that single action and look to how it moves toward a larger goal. As such, when examining the question of Sec. Rumsfeld leaving I can’t help but ask what the larger goal is and if the action helps or hinders it. Ignoring the obvious short-term political goals of some, the greater goal I see that people wish to realize is not only the more effective prosecution of the war in Iraq, but ensuring we are best capable of handling any future military actions in the GWOT. So, will removing the SecDef work toward those goals?

In my opinion, the answer is “probably not.” As I said, this isn’t so much a result of blinding confidence in the SecDef, but more a complete lack of confidence in the Democrats not to overly politicize the process of replacing him. If Rumsfeld left, the President would either have to nominate a replacement or leave this vital post gapped and there can be little doubt that any Bush nominee would subscribe to the President's position that the “only exit strategy is victory.” The net result makes for fine drama during the confirmation hearings as grandstanding Senator after Senator woul pressure, press and demand a withdrawal schedule, all with the intended purpose of exacting maximum impact on the 2006 election cycle. In the end we would have a new SecDef that had already been beaten up on and placed in a defensive position while providing additional hope to the Iraqi insurgent elements that they simply have to hold on just a little longer.

Maybe Rumsfeld made some mistakes, and maybe some of them were significant. Overall, though, I still think the Iraqi campaign is being executed in a generally effective manner. At this time, though, even if I thought someone else could do a better job of closing the deal in Iraq than Rumsfeld I could not in consideration of the larger picture and goals advocate him stepping down. The inevitable political circus would certainly hurt the war effort much worse than anything Rumsfeld may or may not be doing.

Friday, May 05, 2006

IA, Mobilization and the Navy's Role "Over There" 

Chap has written a bit on the IA rumors as they apply to the AC while some of his commenters have pondered what the ramifications maybe for the RC mobilization picture. Allow me to run off at my mouth and offer a somewhat informed opinion. For those not already familiar with my history, please allow me to establish my bona fides in this area by offering a brief personal account of my involvement with the process.

On Oct 2, 2001, after having done about 18 days of AT supporting the Emergency Crisis Center at BUPERS, I was one of five Reservists mobilized to BUPERS, forming what was then called "Pers-44M" (I came up with using "M" to stand for "Mobilized"). At that time the IA issue was hot and heavy at PERS and it was that with which we were initially tasked. Specifically, we were had to identify specific eligible candidates currently serving on shore duty who had the requested skills and qualifications. Until we arrived on the scene this was being done in an ad-hoc "fair-share" sort of way among the various branches (Pers-41/42/43/44), similar to the way 1000 and 1050 billets are distributed. This was recognized to be not the best way, as parochial interests invariably resulted in branch warfare over the "fair share". Additionally, the branch heads were encountering conflicts of interest in having to deal with claimants they were simultaneously manning and borrowing from (and the claimants kept trying to bargain their IA contributions in relation to prospective orders for others). Moving the IA process out of the branches allowed them to continue their normal business without complication and established us as an "honest broker" that simply looked for the right candidate from the right claimant. To make this easier I built a data system that identified suitable candidates and also provided detailed manning information on the potentially affected commands. After all, it's hard for the O-10 from the Naval Academy to push back too hard on an IA requirement when you can demonstrate to him that not only does he have four eligible candidates, but that he is also overmanned both in URLs and designator specific officers of the requested rank. About this time, though, many of our warnings concerning the management of the mobilization were beginning to be evidenced and our focus was, instead, shifted to getting a handle on what was happening with regard to the Reservists.

Fast forward to July 2003, when I demobilized, and we had centralized all mobilization order writing activities, including personal Sailor Advocacy with mobilized Reservists, employing a staff of around 20 full-time mobilized members and the support of a 20-man Reserve Unit. We still had an IA group, but it was relatively small, headed by an FTS Officer and was solely concerned with AC fills. On those occasions where an RC fill was identified as best for a specific IA request that requirement would be reproduced by OPNAV and communicated to CNRF for sourcing. IA orders were still 179-day TAD orders generated by the local commands IAW the JCS IA instruction.

Speaking of which, it should be noted that the term IA (Individual Augmentation) has a very specific meaning. By the IA Instruction, an IA is a requirement for a specific skill needed by a Combatant Commander that the JTF Commander cannot internally source and it is, therefore, referred up for external temporary fill. Since the JTFC we're talking about here is CENTCOM and they're carrying the lion's share of the fighting at this point any IA request that gets all the way through the JTFC is treated pretty much as gospel. At that point the actual requirements are evaluated and farmed out to the various services based upon their ability to provide. It should be no surprise to anyone who has been reading the relevant ALLNAVs that ADM Mullen and VADM Cotton are pointedly looking for how the Navy (AC and RC both) can maximize its contribution to the GWOT, hence an emphasis on IA of late. As I said, the last time I was closely involved AC IA orders were 179 days, but I think this was mainly due to type of orders (TAD) being used. It is my understanding that the standard today is one-year boots on ground plus any work-up and job specific/combat training mandated, possibly expanding the orders to up to 18 months.

To specifically address some of Chap's issues/questions:
Re IRR mobilization: it is a world of difference to do an involuntary recall for an IRR member compared to SELRES. If you are in a critical rate (e.g. 8404 HM), there's a chance. Other than that probably not. On the other hand, there are other ways to get from here to there. For example, I just recently received IAP orders, taking me out of an 18-month VTU funk. They say it is to retain a critically undermanned designator (1125), but in the back of my mind I also know that the IAP folks are at the top of the list for getting grabbed.

WESTPAC Warrior is right that a big factor, besides patriotism, is maintaining relevancy in a DoD that is very focused on a ground war with a minimal maritime aspect. Now, once we go at it with Iran and have to control the SOH, deny their SOF and tag their Kilos things may be a bit different...

Bullnav, if you really want to go to the desert just call me and I'll get you orders. You are, however, just making the same point I have been making for several years now. The more that Reserve manning and detailing is pulled from CNRF and moved to Pers-46 the better it gets, though. The Navy mobilization experience has been unique and instructive, in that the majority of our people were ordered as an individual mobilization and not part of a unit mobilization. This can provide us the experience to help us better manage the IA task, but on the RC side of business I agree that there isn't much of a clear overall strategy of managing our human capital. I have heard whispers that it is changing, but I know some of the folks in CNRF who would have to change their way of doing business to make it happen, and the prospects for real change don't look good to me.

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