Dunford: New Pentagon Staff Needed to Meet Transregional Threats

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers remarks at the Boston Semper Fidelis Society Birthday Luncheon at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston,Nov. 13th, 2015.

Department of Defense photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

AA Font size + Print

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers remarks at the Boston Semper Fidelis Society Birthday Luncheon at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston,Nov. 13th, 2015.

Today’s system of regional combatant commanders is ill-suited for broader challenges, Joint Chiefs chair says.

To meet the transregional threats of today and tomorrow, the Pentagon needs a staff that can look at regional threats and make recommendations to the Defense Secretary, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said Monday.

Currently, the lowest level of integration across regions is the secretary of defense, Dunford said at a national security forum co-hosted by the Center for a New American Security and Defense One. The perspectives and operational plans developed by the current system of regional combatant commanders are insufficient to face challenges such as militant extremism, he said.

“It’s my assumption today that it would be very difficult for any conflict to be isolated to a region,” Dunford said. “When you think about potential adversaries in the future, I think we need to think about strategy right up front that takes into account it is in all likelihood going to be fought in that way.”

For example, weapons like ballistic missiles could launch in one region of the world and hit a target on the other side of the globe. Under the U.S. military’s current structure, that missile could traverse the jurisdictions of multiple generals or admirals.

“I do believe that there needs to be a staff that has a perspective of all the combatant commanders,” Dunford said. That staff would provide “a common operational picture” and “frame decisions for the secretary of defense” for scenarios “that do involve multiple regions simultaneously.”

The Joint Staff, as structured, is not configured to operate that way, he said. 

Dunford also said he’d be open to changing the Unified Command Plan, which defines the boundaries of each combatant command. 

The chairman’s words are sure to feed the nascent debate over changes and updates to the Goldwater-Nichols Act, the three-decade-old legislation that created the combatant command system and forged modern jointness. His recommendation comes as the Pentagon conducts a review of the 1986 act and as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been holding a series of hearings that are looking at ways to modify the law.

Dunford is also looking to tweak — at least — the way his Joint Staff does business. It will shrink in the new year, he said. He didn’t specify how, but said he could “walk away” from some issues.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download
  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Top 5 Findings: Security of Internet of Things To Be Mission-Critical

    As federal agencies increasingly leverage these capabilities, government security stakeholders now must manage and secure a growing number of devices, including those being used remotely at the “edge” of networks in a variety of locations. With such security concerns in mind, Government Business Council undertook an indepth research study of federal government leaders in January 2017. Here are five of the key takeaways below which, taken together, paint a portrait of a government that is increasingly cognizant and concerned for the future security of IoT.

    Download
  • Coordinating Incident Response on Posts, Camps and Stations

    Effective incident response on posts, camps, and stations is an increasingly complex challenge. An effective response calls for seamless conversations between multiple stakeholders on the base and beyond its borders with civilian law enforcement and emergency services personnel. This whitepaper discusses what a modern dispatch solution looks like -- one that brings together diverse channels and media, simplifies the dispatch environment and addresses technical integration challenges to ensure next generation safety and response on Department of Defense posts, camps and stations.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.