Irregular Thoughts

By Thomas Duffy / September 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

More money and a change in attitude -- that's what is needed if the Defense Department is to truly accept irregular warfare as primary mission of the U.S. military, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.

The committee held a hearing to consider Mullen's nomination for another term as chairman.

In answers to questions posed by the committee prior to the hearing, Mullen lays out why irregular warfare is having a hard time finding solid footing inside the Pentagon:

I believe there are two obstacles: resourcing and changing mindsets. Regarding resourcing, for example, we look forward to working with the Congress to fulfill Resource Management Decision 802’s intent to establish the National Program for Small Unit Excellence so that the Joint Irregular Warfare Center, led by US Joint Forces Command, is adequately funded to support the mission of the NPSUE.

While we have progressed, I believe we have more work to do in changing mindsets. We have made great strides within the Services to share capabilities, and we need to continue in that direction to ensure that all new capabilities we develop/program for are truly joint. Irregular Warfare capabilities must be joint and Services must work with each other to identify training and simulation tools that can provide cross-functionality. My staff as well as OSD continue to reach out to the interagency to support our common missions. We collaborate closely with the Departments of State and Homeland Security and are expanding our efforts with other agencies. The goal is to leverage and compliment each other’s capabilities and work together to build joint irregular warfare capabilities that are value added to all.

Mullen made the following suggestions to further institutionalize irregular warfare within DOD:

In my view, our progress in executing some of the Irregular Warfare anchor points illustrates the sort of changes needed. The most important considerations that could complement programmatic decisions in support of the further institutionalization of capabilities for irregular warfare are:

  • An outside review (e.g., Red Team) of USD-Policy developed Defense Planning Scenarios (DPS) to ensure the family of scenarios is appropriately balanced to address the future threat environment, specifically, hybrid, complex threats.
  • A DIA-led annual, unclassified, update on the IW/hybrid threat through direct collaboration with Joint Forces Command, J2; the Joint Irregular Warfare Center; the Defense Intelligence Agency; and the National Ground Intelligence Center.
  • An IA/hybrid wargame for the interagency, specifically, Department of State, to generate valuable insights and inspire a comprehensive perspective essential to meeting the complex security challenges we face.
  • Use our Professional Military Education Program as a strategic asset to improve synchronization across all military departments in education and training with our foreign partners.