October 19, 2007

Gates to Conway: No Dice

From Inside Defense (via Small Wars Journal blog):

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today shot down Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway's proposal to shift Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, which would leave the Army to handle operations in Iraq.

Gates dismissed the idea when asked about it at a Pentagon media briefing.

"I have pretty much literally, up until this point, heard one sentence about it, that they were thinking about it," he said. "So I would say that if it happens it will be long after I'm secretary of defense." …

Charlie heard a lot of pushback from folks across the spectrum after the Marine proposal leaked last week. Perhaps most interesting was that much of the opposition was framed in terms of "jointness." Namely, that handing Afghanistan over to the Marines would be a retreat from all the gains made in service cooperation and interoperability (aka, jointness) in the Goldwater-Nichols era. Charlie doubts this was the sole reason for Secretary Gates' decision, but it does reveal a major shift in service culture if senior Army leadership thinks that appeals to jointness serve as legitimate grievances in opposing the assignment of particular areas of operations.