May 22, 2009

Mattis at JFCOM

A lot of people think the U.S. military is wasting Marine Corps General James Mattis and his many talents at the Joint Forces Command. I am not so sure. Great men find a way to have an effect. From Inside the Pentagon:

The military’s top officer is preparing to update Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the status of an influential general’s ideas for institutionalizing irregular warfare as a core competency, according to internal documents reviewed by Inside the Pentagon.

Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S. Joint Forces Command, proposed seven “anchor points” for institutionalizing irregular warfare (IW) in a March 11 memo to Gates. During a meeting in February, Gates asked Mattis for thoughts on how to accomplish the goal while “maintaining a balance with other required capabilities and without negating our conventional and nuclear superiority,” the memo notes. Mattis -- who Gates described during a hearing last week as one of the military’s most “creative and thoughtful” minds -- kept the list short to avoid the appearance of going overboard.

Now the office of Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is drafting a memo to update Gates on the issues raised by Mattis. The unsigned draft -- which is subject to change -- says Mullen will form an IW working group to monitor these issues and provide Gates with periodic updates. But a military official said the group has not been created yet and that the Pentagon is exploring whether it might piggyback on an existing IW group of some kind, rather than establish a new organization.

In accordance with the DOD directive on irregular warfare, JFCOM has the overall responsibility for exploring new concepts and capabilities so that the U.S. armed forces are as effective in IW as they are in traditional warfare, recommending mechanisms and capabilities for increasing interoperability and integration in IW-related activities, and leading the collaborative development of joint standards for IW relevant training and readiness for individuals and units of the general purpose forces, said Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Almarah Belk.