January 24, 2008

Skelton calls for Key West II

Once upon a time, the Air Force belonged to the Army. Those were the days. Kidding! (Well, mostly.) The accord that sorted out the many overlapping missions of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps air elements* is popularly known as the Key West Agreement. It resulted in the creation of the USAF and the prohibition on fixed wing aircraft in the Army.

Might we be on the verge of a similar re-envisioning of roles and missions? Defense Daily says yes (but they say it behind a subscription firewall):

After the president signs the defense authorization bill into law, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is prepared to send a letter urging the Defense Secretary to redraw the roles and missions of the Pentagon in a way not done since 1948.


Truman brought the leaders of the services together in Key West in 1948 and created what has become the U.S. Air Force, Skelton said.

Now that the Defense Department presides over so many missions and technologies not available in 1948--or the 1950s, when the agreement was slightly amended--it is time for DoD to start the review. According to Skelton the review will be a "major undertaking, underlined."

Skelton has kick-started the process with the authorization bill, which directs the Pentagon to start a roles and missions review every four years--the first one starting this year. Last year, Skelton also created a roles and missions panel that is due to publish a study in about three months, panel member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said at the National Defense Industry Association's Precision Strike Association meeting yesterday.

As part of that study, Sestak has been advocating joint staff control of funding for command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Why this isn't part of the QDR process is beyond Charlie. Then again, that review is so fubar that a separate track isn't necessarily a bad idea. Either way, keep your eyes open, Rep. Skelton is a big player in the COIN world.

*This reminds Charlie of one of her favorite jokes/questions: A foreign officer says to a Marine: "I see that you have an air force. And I understand that your navy has an army. But why does your navy's army have an air force?" Charlie says: because no one else will fly CAS...