Everyone wants to become a General. Since there are very few positions available, military institutions strive to create more large commands to increase career opportunities. The Army has long sought recognition of a major unified command for the Korean peninsula while the Navy has suggested an Indian Ocean command. However, the "war on terror" increased operations in Africa, so the bureaucracy recently secured permission to create a new four-star unified command for Africa, spinning it off from the European Command and adding a small part from the Central Command. This may seem harmless, yet huge headquarters absorb manpower and resources from operational forces.
This has started a debate of where to establish the Africa Command headquarters. The US military has no significant bases in Africa, and no permanent troops, yet a four-star General along with a squad of Generals and a platoon of Colonels will soon take charge of the region. They will require hundreds of support personnel, a squadron of executive aircraft, and a billion dollar a year budget as they establish themselves as African viceroys. American regional military commanders have shoved aside diplomats in recent years, often meeting heads of state while wearing field uniforms. Sometimes they alienate foreign leaders due to their lack of experience in the region and limited patience for diplomacy.
Whenever military force must be used, these huge unified headquarters are far from the action, so a task force headquarters must be formed anyway to command forces. For example, the Central Command that covers the Middle East is based in Tampa, Florida, but mostly operates from a forward base in Qatar. Yet even Qatar is too far from Iraq and Afghanistan, so a huge task force headquarters exists in each nation. Since modern worldwide communications allow the Pentagon to easily communicate with forward headquarters, the huge regional headquarters have become unneeded middlemen. Worst of all, these massive immobile headquarters are ideal targets for commandos, terrorists, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles, so they require hundreds of troops for self-defense.
Another big problem with regional headquarters is that conflicts overlap their boundaries. For example, Pakistan is within the Central Command yet its rival India falls within the Pacific Command. Turkey is within the European Command although operations from American airbases there support the Central Command. This problem was highlighted a few years ago when an American F-15 fighter from the Central Command shot down an American helicopter in northern Iraq operated by the European Command because there was no direct coordination. The European Command covers all of Russia, even their distant Pacific ports of key interest to the Pacific Command. And what about the U.S. naval task force operating in the Red Sea with one leg in Africa and the other in the Central Command's turf of Yemen? Then there is the Southern Command with no real combat power that is focused on the pointless effort to stop the flow of drugs from Latin America.
The US military does not need an Africa Command. The only significant US military forces in Africa are part of a task force operating around the Horn of Africa. They don't need a four-star General and his huge staff looking over their shoulder. In addition, the US military does not need a Central Command, Pacific Command, or a Southern Command and all their "component command" appendages. The Joint Forces Command in Norfolk VA can assemble joint task force commands for specific missions and allocate forces and resources among them. Some task forces may exist for just a few weeks for missions like disaster relief, while others last for decades for a mission like helping defend South Korea. This is essentially how the US Navy operates.
The Central Command can disappear while the task force commands in Iraq and Afghanistan report directly to the Pentagon. Other US military forces in the region may be formed into small task forces for specific missions. Individual bases will operate under the control of their military component service, just as they do today. As a result of mission oriented task force operations, the US military will discover that the rationale for keeping some units overseas has passed, like the 48 F-15 fighter-bombers based in England to fend off the Soviet threat.
Eliminating regional commands will save billions of dollars a year and free thousands of personnel for operational units. It will improve the flow of information by slicing out a layer of command while eliminating vulnerable fixed headquarter targets and symbols of imperialism. Moreover, continual reviews of task force missions and required resources will ensure a military operational focus, rather than the political focus that has become common among America's military viceroys.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
Spring 2007 Articles
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
Air Commandos - infantrymen fighting for air superiority
Federalize Military Prisons - transfer inmates to Federal institutions
Note: Carlton Meyer's articles on current military affairs appear at Sanders Research. Those from this past Winter are linked below, but you must register to log on and read them:
Aerial Car Bombs - peacekeepers shouldn't bomb cities
Awaiting America's Stalingrad - the US military is overextended
The Lockerbie Cover-up (Part I) - Iran strikes back
The Lockerbie Cover-up (Part II) - the lie unravels
Most Americans are Leftists - and love government help
Right-Wing Hollywood - a propaganda machine
FY 2008 Weapons Procurement Request (pdf) - a detailed DoD document
Live Leak - video clips of combat action in Iraq
Commandant Says V-22s Will Crash - ready to battle critics
Don't Push Pakistan Too Far - a true powder keg
US Army Lost 130 Helos - in Iraq and Afghanistan
The Trillion-Dollar Defense Budget - is already here
MK-71 8-inch (203mm) Gun - ideal for Navy destroyers
Playing the Course - stopping the Iraq spin
V-22Forum.com - V-22 insiders blowing the whistle
Bold Move Escalates Space War Debate - China's satellite shoot down
Surge and Destroy in Iraq - certain to fail
Marine EFV Costs Double - another major procurement failure
UltimateSniper.com - recommended by the Iraqi resistance
Within the Baghdad Bubble - absurdities of the occupiers
Previous G2mil - Winter 2007 issue
The Spectrum of Future Warfare - Carlton Meyer's new book
Past Editorials - by Carlton Meyer
Library Tour - visit G2mil's library
Library Entrance - members only
All material in G2mil Copyright 2007 G2mil,
patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are encouraged.
All material in G2mil Copyright 2007 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are encouraged.