CHAIRED BY: REP. VIC SNYDER (D-AR)
WITNESSES: DR. ANDREW F. KREPINEVICH, JR., PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS DR. I.M. (MAC) DESTLER, SAUL I. STERN PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MR. WALTER OLESZEK, SENIOR SPECIALIST IN AMERICAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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REP. SNYDER: I can't start without the gavel.
The hearing will come to order.
Good afternoon. Welcome to the subcommittee on oversight and investigations' hearing on the Project on National Security Reform, better known as the Locher Project after its executive director.
This is the report itself. We all have come to the conclusion that because of the density of the paper it's the heaviest report that we have ever encountered. It's so heavy it has to be dangerous when you set it down.
I wanted to hold this hearing because of this subcommittee's continuing interest in interagency issues and national strategy.
As we've heard, Secretary Gates and others say over and over again, our national strategy in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan require, quote, "whole of government approaches." However, the question remains how exactly do we do that?
Some people do not think we need reform of structure but simply better leadership. Others believe we have good people who are working hard but our current structures and processes largely built in 1947 to win the Cold War do not serve us well now and the structures and processes certainly won't serve us well in the future as we face more numerous and complex challenges.
An independent review on the subject was required by the armed services committee. The two year project we're talking about today was funded by both government funds, including some from the department of Defense, and private funds. The full study is over 700 pages long and includes a history of the national security council and about 100 case studies that seem to identify problem areas.
More than 300 people participated in this study in one form or another, including retired general Jim Jones, our current national security advisor and retired admiral Denny Blair, our current director of national intelligence. Their report was delivered to President Bush and the Congress in December.
The Project on National Security Reform focuses on how the national security council, the departments and agencies, and the Congress contend with national security issues. We can all probably acknowledge that there was a gap between the NSE and the departments. We could call this gap the interagency space where true whole of government action might be achieved.
However, right now there is no structure at the interagency level that ensures integration of all the tools of national power. The authors of this report propose strengthening the national security advisor, to be called the director for national security. And the national security council to be called the president's security council to fill the gap. This will have certain implications for the rest of our national security system, including the Congress, so I hope our witnesses can help us sort out some of these implications.
In this report the guiding coalition of national security professionals and thinkers have tried to make a case for urgent and broad reforms. They argue that all their recommendations should be taken as a whole. Some of these include creating a new director for national security, instituting a QDR-like interagency national security review, decentralizing management of national security issues by creating interagency teams and task forces, establishing a president's security council to replace the national the national and homeland security councils, creating an integrated national security budget, developing an interagency national security professional corp, and establishing House and Senate committees on national security and strengthening the foreign relations and affairs committees.
Our panel of witnesses today to help us sort all of these questions out in the next couple hours, consists of: Dr. Andy Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, Dr. Mac Destler, director of the Program on International Security and Economic Policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and Mr. Walter Oleszek, senior specialist at the Congressional Research Service.
I also want to acknowledge we have an out of town guest here today, a parliamentarian from Quebec, Claude Bachand who is a member of the Canadian Parliament and he's going to be with us for a half hour so we welcome you.
Let's give him a --- (applause).
And we'll now turn to Rob Wittman, our ranking member, for any comments he would like to make.
REP. WITTMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Well, thank you, members of the panel for being with us today. I appreciate you taking the time to come before us and give us your thoughts on the issue that we have before us on the Project on National Security Reform.
Well the subject of today's hearing is, indeed, a very serious matter. Since the dawn of the 21st century the United States has faced an ever shifting complex international environment and ideally we would have an agile national security structure able to respond to the challenges as needed but we do not.
After all of the military services via the jointness dictated by the Goldwater-Nickols legislation is able to task organize to meet almost any mission. But the great bureaucracy of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government have rigid, unyielding structures and processes that sometimes struggle to organize coherent, effective responses to national and international crises.
And this weakness has been widely recognized and studies, particularly after the intelligence failures of September 11, 2001. One outcome of that tragedy was the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, which reorganized and better integrated the intelligence community. Otherwise, the executive branch and Congressional committee structures were left intact.
To be fair, designing the best system to reorganize the national security council and half the cabinet departments is no easy matter. The Project on National Security Reform has reviewed the interagency coordination problem in a thoughtful, logical manner that makes a series of recommendations for the organization of both the national security apparatus and the Congress.
While we cannot singlehandedly make these changes, we do have a responsibility to start the dialog.
Our witnesses were not part of the Project on National Security Reform effort and are well placed to provide and impartial view of this study. Gentlemen, we appreciate you being here today to do that for us.
Now I'm grateful to have you here as distinguished witnesses before us to comment on the project's work and look forward to your testimony shining some light on the applicability of that project.
So we appreciate that and with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you, Mr. Wittman.
We're also pleased to be joined today by another armed services committee member, Adam Smith from the state of Washington. Adam is the chairman of the terrorism and unconventional threats subcommittee of the House armed services committee. He is also on the Intel committee and for most of the last decade has been a member of the House committee on foreign affairs. And so he's been following a lot of these issues very closely.
Adam, if you'd like to make an opening statement feel free.
MR. SMITH: Certainly. Just a couple of quick comments and I thank Chairman Snyder for allowing me to sit in this hearing.
The report could not be more timely. I agree with both statements of the chairman and the ranking member on the importance of interagency work and we've certainly seen that in a lot of the projects that we've undergone on national security in the last several years and my subcommittee is particularly focused on that. We do a lot of counterterrorism work with the special operations command and you see where, you know, country by country, piece by piece you need a lot of different sets of resources from different agencies. And there is no formal mechanism really for pulling those together. It has been done in an at hawk basis, in some cases fairly effectively.
JSOC, I think, has done a very effective job of pulling together the counterterrorism efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, working with a wide variety of different agencies. But that was really sort of driven by the individuals who made that decision and made it work. What we need is a more formalized structure because the problem will not just be peculiar to Iraq and Afghanistan. It's part of dealing with global development issues. It's a big part of dealing with a messaging issue.
I say that as I see Mack Thornberry walk into the room, he's also --- not to do that to you Mack, right when you walk in the door. He's the ranking member on my committee for the last two years and also on Intel. He's been very focused on what is our strategic communication strategy and at the end of the day we've got about 35 or 40 different groups or agencies that have a piece of that. It's not well coordinated and well focused, nobody is in charge.
I could go on but I won't because I want to hear your testimony. But the bottom line is the interagency piece is going to be critical to our national security strategy going forward in a number of different areas.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to say something.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you, Mr. Smith.
We've also been joined by Congressman Mack Thornberry from Texas. Through the years Mack and I just cannot get enough of Andy Krepinevich. He used to sponsor some forums that Andy would put on about ten years ago. We appreciate you being here today. Mack is also a member of the Intel committee in addition to the armed services committee.
Gentlemen, what we'll do, we'll begin with your opening statements. I'm going to have Dr. Fenner (sp) put the clock on. When you see that red light flash you should feel free to drive on through it if you think you've got some more things you need to say but if you stayed about the five minutes then we can get to members questions.
Dr. Krepinevich we'll start with you.
MR. KREPINEVICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As you know I've submitted a written statement and will summarize my remarks.
REP. SNYDER: All the written statements are a part of the record.
MR. KREPINEVICH: Again, let me add my compliments to the efforts of the project. An impressive array of individuals, a very comprehensive report, and as also noted, a very substantial report in many, many ways.
What I would like to do is focus my five minutes on an issue that was raised by the project, which is the issue of restoring the ability of the U.S. government to craft strategy competently, as well as to execute it.
It's been said if you don't know where you're going any road will take you there. And if you don't have a clear strategy to inform the path you've chosen to achieve your security objectives, any structure or process will do.
The need for good strategy, our best strategists tell us, is the greatest at any time since the early days of the Cold War. It's been said that you need strategy as strategic thinking most during periods of great change and I think the project certainly makes the point that we are at a period of tumultuous change. But also, when resources are scarce. As one British politician famously said about a century ago, we're running out of money we'll have to start to think. And while I'm a big fan of structure and a big fan of process I'm an even bigger fan of thinking and that's what strategy is all about.
Strategy is not just how do you apply certain means at your disposal to achieve your objectives. You know, more specifically it's about the hard work of identifying, developing, and exploiting sources of advantage in ways that give you the greatest leverage, in ways that allow you to effectively achieve your objectives at minimal cost and minimal risk. And that traditionally has been very difficult work. Failure to craft strategy well leads to a waste of resources as well as endangering our security and our wellbeing.
Now, I've identified in my testimony a number of barriers that I think really compromise our ability as a government to do strategy well. One is confusing strategy with the two polar aspects of it, one being the goal and one being the means.
An example of confusing strategy with objectives is the Clinton administration's national security strategy in 2000, which said that a key element of its strategy was preventing conflicts. Well that's not a strategy, that's an objective.
When President Bush said, as they stand up we'll stand down, that's our strategy for Iraq. That's not a strategy. That's substituting one set of means, the Iraqi's, for another set of means, the United States. That's not a strategy.
So again, just a failure to understand what strategy is, even at the highest levels of government.
Our second is a failure to understand the enemy. And to a certain extent your strategy is trying to get your rivals, your adversaries, your competitors, and even your allies to behave in certain kinds of ways. We have to know what motivates them. And throughout the Cold War and even into the current period a number of statements indicate that often times we don't understand our enemy.
Consider the fact, for example, that Lyndon Johnson, after giving a speech at John's Hopkins University in 1965, in April, in which he proposed the Tennessee Valley Authority, sort of, project for the Mekong Delta, turned after the speech and said, "old Ho can't turn me down now." Well, he wasn't dealing with a politician from Tennessee, he was dealing with a communist revolutionary.
President Kennedy's first reaction upon finding out that the Soviets were placing nuclear missiles in Cuba was, he can't do that to me. Well, again, a misunderstanding of the motives and the character and the objectives of the Soviet Union at the time.
In my testimony I lay out the debate very briefly that occurred in the early days of the Cold War between three of the wise men, the so-called wise men: George Kennan, Paul Nitze and Chip Bohlen, over the character of the threat posed by the Soviet Union. That had a material effect on the kind of strategy, the kinds of resources, the whole approach of government that we took to dealing with the Soviet threat.
So again, the importance of understanding the enemy. And I think if it's one thing that we can agree upon is that we really, even now, don't have a good understanding of the challenges posed by those who seek to do us ill.
A third barrier is discounting the value of strategy. Perhaps we're too busy, the crisis de jour. Sandy Berger famously once said that he preferred to worry about today today and tomorrow tomorrow. While that may be a good way of taking care of today but again, you need a strategy that guides you, not only through the current period but over the long term.
Another barrier is the failure to except that resources are limited. I'll give you a quick example of this. This plays big in the Pentagon. Again, strategy seeks to balance your objectives with your resources. In the Pentagon they have what are called cut drills. The defense program is always too ambitious for the defense resources. And rather than typically come up with a strategy for dealing with that, the services continue to boost their requirements, trying to create as big a gap as possible. Why? Because the strategy is to prevail in the cut drill, you want to be cut less than any other service so the more needy you look, the strategy to make yourself look needy as opposed to the strategy to play to your advantages to cause your rival, you know, the greatest amount of discomfort is typically given short shrift.
Finally, and obviously, there's bureaucratic hostility. There's the, what I call, you know, certainly efforts to frustrate strategy execution but there's also the Ben-Hur approach to developing strategy and there are a couple of charts from the Pentagon that I put in my testimony. It's the cast of thousands. It's the quadrennial defense review that's got panels and committees and groups and focus groups. And that is the approach that's taken to crafting strategy.
That's not to say that we don't need a big government. That's not to say that we don't need a big bureaucracy. But strategy is hard. It's typically done by small groups of very talented strategic thinkers, whether you're looking at NSC-68, the solarium project under Eisenhower, or NSC-162-2, some of the efforts that laid the strategic foundation that guided and informed everything else, typically done by small groups of people.
So in my testimony I offer a rather modest recommendation. And that is to go back a take a good hard look at the, what I call, the Eisenhower model. Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the National Security Act observed that when President Kennedy disestablished Eisenhower's national security structure he eliminated the U.S. government's ability to do strategy at the highest levels. Perhaps an overstatement but certainly don't want to discount the views of someone who was a national security advisor during the Cold War and Brzezinski certainly was that.
Second, the importance of the active persistent involvement of the president. We have reports, we have documents and we need them. President Eisenhower famously said, the importance of strategic planning is not the plan, it's the planning. The plan is almost immediately obsolete once you put it on the shelf. He said the world -- and certainly this is something the project highlighted --- the world is changing in such a dynamic way that strategy is not something you do every four years. Strategy is a persistent effort that requires constant adjustment, you know, the constant identification of new sources of advantage that your rivals are developing and the search for new sources of advantage and how you can apply them on your side.
And so for that reason while some presidents, for example, President Bill Clinton in his first term, of course a much less dangerous period, had less than two dozen meetings of his national security council. President Eisenhower in his first term had 179. And again, it was the sense the you needed a persistent involvement on the part of the senior leadership.
In those NSC meetings he had his principle advisors and he had no one else. There were no back ventures feeding information to the secretary of State or the secretary of Defense. He told these people, though, that you are too busy to think strategically at every possible moment, to devote the kind of dedication that's required. And so what he, what Eisenhower had done, at the suggestion of George Marshall was to establish something called the planning board.
And the planning board each statutory NSC member had a full time person, basically, working on the planning board. In State it might be somebody like the director of policy planning and Defense it might be someone like the office of net assessment director, Andrew Marshall. And these people were responsible for doing the hard work or strategy, identifying issues and presenting them for consideration at the NSC meetings. Doing the hard thinking of strategy.
And again, Eisenhower said that, of course you could never quite predict the crisis. You would confront the problem, you know, when it would manifest itself in full form. But he said the fact that you have these regular meetings, that you are doing this diligent work of strategizing meant that when you finally encounter that problem you had been living with it. He and his team had been living with it. They had an understanding of what to do, much better than they would if they just sort of managed the strategy from crisis to crisis.
Finally, in addition to the planning board there was an operations coordinating board and this, essentially, was the group of people who three months later, six months later, nine months later, once the president made the decision, would go out to the departments, to the agencies and say, the president made a decision, what are you doing to execute it. And, you know, the failure on the part of groups or individuals or departments and agencies to comply should be an opportunity for staff changes, if I could say so. But the idea was to hold the bureaucracy accountable.
Now certainly there is the opportunity to organize interdepartmental groups. I think that's certainly a good idea, particularly when you look at the multidimensional aspects of many problems we face. But again, that is not new. One of the more famous examples of such a group was the special inter-departmental group counterinsurgency that President Kennedy organized that was chaired by Maxell Taylor and Robert Kennedy to deal with the growing threat of wars of national liberation. And you did have this interagency approach. You had two people who had direct access to the president and still that effort proved a failure. And I think the reason why was not because of organizational structure. I think, again, it's a matter of crafting good strategy and enforcing accountability on those who are directed to carry out the directives of the president.
While this is far from comprehensive -- and I only had five minutes -- it is a modest proposal. It is an area of focus. It is something that the president can do without legislation, without any new assistant secretaries of this or that. And it is something that, although modest, and certainly not as comprehensive as the project's report, I think has the potential to make a substantial contribution.
This concludes my remarks, Mr. Chairman. I'd be happy to respond to any questions.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you, Dr. Krepinevich.
MR. DESTLER: Thank you very much, Chairman Snyder, Congressman Wittman, distinguished members of Congress, it's an honor to be here.
I'm happy to --- there's going to be a little bit of tension before I finish my remarks between what I am going to argue and what my distinguished colleague here has very expertly argued for.
First of all, let me pay tribute to this project. There's an awful lot of good stuff in here and I say this as someone who didn't participate in it, so I can say I'm objective. And it also seems to be relevant. Our new national security advisor, General Jones, has declared that the Obama national security council will be dramatically different from its predecessor. We've brought our substantive scope. And the president issued last month Presidential Policy Directive Number One, mandating broad participation in national security policy making at the presidential, principles and deputies levels and below.
Certainly the need for such reform seems undeniable. The institutions currently available to meet 21st century challenges are in the main institutions created in the 1940's, a very, very different world. It is hard to argue against, to quote the report, "a bold but carefully crafted plan of comprehensive reform". And the Project on National Security Reform has put an enormous effort to this undertaking and its conclusions merit serious consideration.
Yet, history offers caution. And as shown by our most recent national effort at organizational reconstruction, the creation of the department of Homeland Security, bold changes do not necessarily bring benign results.
Let me concentrate here on the two core PNSR recommendations that my colleague here referred to. First of all, the creation of a President's Security council to encompass not only the subjects currently addressed by the NSC and the Homeland Security council, but also with international economic and energy policy, quote, "fully integrated", unquote, as well.
And the second central organizational proposal is statutory creation of a director of national security replacing, apparently, the current national security assistant or assistant to the president for the national security affairs known as the national security advisor, and having this official supported by a statutory executive secretary. My credentials for arguing this are a -- most of my lifetime spending time, at least off and on, looking at these issues and recently co- publishing a book, which I will wave, not because I want you all to run out and buy it, of course, but because it is actually the basis for my testimony, because it is an analytic history of how national security advisors from, actually, George Bundy onward have handled the job and have related to their presidents. And it leads me, as you will see, to some skepticism about the director of national security proposal.
First of all let me talk about the President's Security council. The impressive members of the guiding coalition who signed this report have backgrounds overwhelmingly in national security policy traditionally defined. It is to their credit that they see a need for broadened jurisdiction but no one in the group, so far as I can tell, has had any senior level experience in addressing economic issues, domestic or international.
Historic NSC has proved progressively less able to oversee economic issues effectively. Beginning with President Nixon, president's have established parallel economic policy coordination institutions outside of the NSC to handle them. With the National Economic council established by Bill Clinton and continued by George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the latest manifestation.
This is no accident, because international economic issues are not simply an extension of national security issues. They reflect a set of challenges arising from a different set of forces, processes, and institutions. They are at least as much linked to domestic economics as they are to political military issues that drive the NSC and would likely drive a President's Security council. They involved different forms of analysis, different instruments of policy, different governmental institutions, as the current global economic crisis makes abundantly clear.
The current urgency demands they have at least coequal status in the White House. Advisor and council addressing these issues on their own terms, not wedged within a security perspective.
Of course, Larry Summers and James Jones should coordinate with one another and they have engaged a capable joint deputy, Michael Frohman, to be sure that international economic policy draws on both of their perspectives. But to go further to subordinate economic issues within a presidential security council would be, I think, to go against both logic and experience.
I am not as familiar with energy or environmental policy, but I suspect some of the same considerations may apply. Perhaps the --- President Obama is not wrong to have engaged separate senior officials for national security, environment, and energy -- national security economics and energy and the environment, though keeping them from working at cross purposes on issues that overlap is a daunting task.
I have a different set of doubts about establishing a director for national security at the White House. Presumably this official would replace the national security advisor, though the executive summary doesn't quite say that. The position would be established by legislation though no recommendation is made on whether she or he would be subject to Senate confirmation. Supported by a statutory executive secretary this director would not only be, quote, "the principle assistant to the president on matters related to national security, but he would also be charged with administering a wide range of planning and integrating instrument, an overall strategy, planning guidance, a resource document, a network of interagency teams, et cetera."
The director would be asked to combine the tasks of Dwight Eisenhower's Bobby Cutler, who managed the system that my colleague here has described, and Kennedy's George Bundy, who managed the day to day issues for the president. Whence would come the power of this individual to carry out this awesome task? What would make the departments and agencies commit their time and best people to this elaborate exercise, whatever its abstract merit?
The PNSR report uses words like empower, suggesting that mandating these activities is the same as making them real and effective.
In practice, however, whatever the change in title, the director would gain his power, overwhelmingly, from his relationship with the president, just as national security advisors do today. Would the president want him or her to spend his time that way? Eisenhower did want Bobby Cutler to do this but he also had Andy Goodpaster (ph), who handled his day to day decision making on crisis management, all often outside Eisenhower's formal system.
Kennedy didn't want it and he and Bundy transformed the national security advisor job to one supporting the president's daily national security business and connecting the senior officials to him and to one another. None of Kennedy's successors, including Jimmy Carter, as Zbigniew Brzezinski may now say, that there should've been an Eisenhower system but I know of no effort that he made to create anything like this when he was national security advisor. But none of Kennedy's successors wanted an Eisenhower/Cutler planning system, save Nixon and Kissinger, who employed an improved version before --- for about four months in their administration before they abandoned it to carry out the most --- pursue the most secretive policy making process in history.
It seems to me, given that president's are not really going to want this, at least experience suggests that, this director would have a choice; he could persist in the elaborate integration mandate knowing that the president, at best, tolerated it, and knowing that one day agency officials would learn that the process was not really driving presidential decisions. Or he could respond to what the president really wanted and delegate the formal system management to the executive secretary. Then there would be two layers, an interagency planning process below disconnected from the president and its principle advisors.
Let me repeat, there is much that is good in this sophisticated report in its understanding of many of the problems of the current system and in its focus on improving budgeting and personnel. But I don't think the key organizational recommendations will survive careful analysis.
And I particularly don't think they would work under this president, who strikes me as more like John F. Kennedy than like any other president in the postwar era, very cerebral, very much wanting to handle things himself, impatient in terms of formal structures. And I cannot --- I think the question is going to be whether James Jones, who I think would like a more formal structure, will be able to adapt to Barack Obama or whether he will end up having less relevance than he should have to the Obama decision process.
In any case, it is the president --- in national security policy- making, in the end it is, to paraphrase a Clinton campaign label, it is the president, stupid. It is he or she who drives --- she one day, perhaps, who drives the system. Its operating preferences and decision style are what any White House aide must accommodate. To encumber this aide with heavy formal responsibilities is to increase his distance to the president, weakening their joint capacity to achieve such national security policy coherence as our system of government will allow.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you, Dr. Destler. You all may have figured out we're having a little clock problem, so Dr. Finner is timing the five minutes and we're not getting that very helpful green and yellow; you're just getting the red flash at five minutes. That's what happens.
DR. DESTLER: I may have taken advantage of that. Sorry. (laughs)
REP. SNYDER: No, you didn't. You were both -- you actually were about the exact same time. Mr. Oleszek.
MR. OLESZEK: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Mr. ranking member, and distinguished committee colleagues. Let me say that I'm here because -- not that I'm an expert on anything to do with the military or national security or only a little bit, probably, on executive organization. I'm here largely because since I arrived at CRS in 1968, I have been involved in practically every house and senate legislative reform effort since that time.
And so what I want to focus on are the recommendations that have been put forward by the Project National Security Reform. And to do that, I'm going to concentrate principally on one of their major suggestions, and that is to create a permanent select Committee on National Security. I will also comment on the other recommendations as well. And so I posed three questions that obviously I'm going to answer. And since I made up the questions, I hope I can give you the right answers.
But anyway, the first question is, is the house committee structure organized in a fashion to promote integrated, coordinated interagency national security decision-making, and I suppose the short answer would be no. But that would take some additional analysis and study, but the point I really want to emphasize is this, that the great strength of the Congress is it's a decentralized structure, the fact that it functions through committees, subcommittees, informal task forces and other entities as well. This is the division of labor. This is the specialization system that the Congress has provided itself and it's also a way for constituents and special interest groups or anybody else to have access during the formative stages of the lawmaking process, during the committee policy-making process, and so there are tremendous advantages to having the dispersion of policy-making power spread around, if you will.
Now the question becomes, is it spread around too much? One of the deficiencies in the legislative branch would be the lack of what people would call integrative or coordinative capacity, and there are a few committees that are able to do this. One of those committees that takes a picture view, if you would, would be the Budget Committee, for example. Or another one might be the Rules Committee. But principally the integrative forces on Capitol Hill are the party leaders, particularly in the House it's going to be the majority leadership, particularly the speaker. They are the integrators that will control the centrifugal forces out there manifested by the committee system.
Now the second question that I would pose is this: if the system is not organized or integrative coordinated activity in this realm, is a permanent select committee, you know, the proper approach? And the answer that I would provide is, maybe. Perhaps. Because that question is not answerable unless you know what is the authorizing responsibility of the select committee? Does it have legislative authority or not? The ability to receive and report legislation. What is its membership? What kind of support does it have?
Now we have had tremendously good examples of select committees that have performed this coordinated function, but generally the dilemma -- and I'm going to cite one or two, but the dilemma often in terms of crafting select committees, whether or not they have legislative jurisdiction or not, raises the issue of turf. And as all of you are familiar, better than I, turf is viewed as power on Capitol Hill, and when you create a select committee with legislative jurisdiction, where is their mandate going to come from? Because all the other standing committees are going to believe, well, that's potentially in my area, particularly when we're talking about inter- agency national security issues.
For example, just the 110th and now recreated in the 111th, but I'll use the 110th, you may all recall that, no, there is a select committee on energy independence and global warming chaired by Mr. Markey. That did not sit well when Mr. Dingell chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 110th house. He was quoted pretty prominently, and he used a phrase that caught the eye of a lot of folks, that creating this select committee is useless. It's like having feathers on a fish. Nonetheless, it went forward and, you know, there were adjustments made, accommodations in the 110th, to accommodate some of his concerns.
Now a couple that were, you know, we're the legislative jurisdiction are recent examples that I can cite that were quite successful or useful potentially, and that is the ad hoc, not the ad hoc, the select committee on homeland security in 2002, created by Speaker Hastert. Why was it created? It created one single mission and that was to create a Department of Homeland Security, and this was a pure leadership committee.
The chairman was the majority leader, Dick Armey, Dick Gephardt named as the ranking minority member and Nancy Pelosi the whip, and every other member on both the majority and the minority side were party leaders. You know, Marty Frost, the chair of the Democratic caucus. Tom DeLay, the majority whip, right down the line, and their mission was to deal with one issue, and the way they were a terrific coordinated body was that all the other dozen, roughly dozen, standing committees had an opportunity to look at the segments of the Department of Homeland Security that fell within their jurisdiction and then they were all submitted back to the select Homeland Security Committee chaired by Chairman Armey and they aggregated this information and then submitted the legislation to the floor and, obviously, we have a Department of Homeland Security.
Once the Homeland Security Department was created, and this is not uncommon, sort of triggers the notion about what about our own committee system on the house side? Same thing occurred in the senate, as well. Do we need a standing committee to handle homeland security issues? And again, another select committee was created in 2003 by Speaker Hastert, of course, subject to the vote of the House of Representatives. But he made plain to this membership on the select committee that -- and it was filled with lots of committee chairs who were very protective of their turf, but he made a statement right after he was sworn in as Speaker to all of the members of the house, but this one sentence was targeted to the committee chairs you can be sure. When something like this, that you're authorizing an oversight jurisdiction will be protected and, by golly, it was protected. And when this committee was actually created, every -- there was, like, ten other standing committees, including Armed Services Committee, in terms of the legislative history, that specified exactly what kind of control they had over homeland security matters.
Three things are really important in terms of creating a select committee. One is the support of the leadership, without question. You have to have, you know, broad support certainly of, you know, the membership and then also you have to have the involvement of the standing committees that will be affected by the creation of this select panel.
One of the issues that caught my eye was the jurisdictional mandate of this committee if it ever came into being. It is quite broad. They give you -- there's several pages in terms of issues that this committee ought to be considering. Their brief definition is national security -- (inaudible) -- of the United States to defend, define and advance its position in a world that is being continuously shaped, reshaped by the turbulent forces of change, and then they also highlight turbulent forces of change affect all of the national sources of power, and what are all these national sources of power? It's quite broad, to say the least.
One of those things is sustained stewardship of sound economic policy, energy security, infrastructure, health, educational systems, etc. You go onto another page, and this caught my eye in terms of a grand strategy of how you mobilize all the sources as a national power to accomplish your national goals. And it says it comprises these things: carefully coordinated and fully integrated use of all political, economic, military, cultural, social, moral, spiritual and psychological power.
I mean, that's quite a menu, but anyway, so those are just issues to be mindful of, and I don't think anybody knows how many interagency groups are out there is another consideration. Are there other ways by which this might be handled? Yeah, there are a lot of other ways. I'm not saying a select committee should not be created. All I'm saying is, hey, there has to be, you know, a lot of negotiation before it's going to be successfully created, but there are methods that are in place.
One would be perhaps there's a model to select oversight panel that is composed of members of the intelligence committee and the defense appropriation subcommittee, sort of an ad hoc joint entity authorizing and appropriating responsibility. You could have specialized subcommittees created. Even this committee might be reestablished in some way in the rules and by resolution as the forum to consider interagency national security issues. A multiple referral process could be artfully used by the Speaker. She has the power, not only just Speaker Pelosi, but no Speaker has ever used this power that's embedded in the rules of the House and that is to create an ad hoc oversight committee charged with, obviously, reviewing, you know, this kind of realm.
Other methods as well -- committee composition. You had Congressman Smith that was struck by the fact that we're only a couple of committees where you have -- you deliberately have, like, budget or intelligence members drawn from other standing committees. Maybe that's an approach that ought to be tried on other standing committees as well, so you get this interagency national security concept, the integration idea perhaps more prominently placed in the policy-making process.
And the others that I mentioned, but just quickly, to wrap up, there was also the recommendation to consolidate all oversight of the Department of Homeland Security in the Committee on Homeland Security. The House took a major step in that direction in the 111th Congress when it passed House rules that granted the Department of Homeland Security what is called special oversight, and special oversight is akin to the broad investigative power granted to the governmental affairs oversight, Government Reform Committee, that was established by the 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act, so they have broad authority to oversee the Department of Homeland Security.
The point is even if areas are within the jurisdiction of other standing committees, special oversight gives the committee the authority, the right to review agencies and programs that fall within other standing committees. I should also mention that you're never going to consolidate them. Maybe you never should consolidate all oversight over any activity within a single committee. I think it's helpful to have a diversity of points of view. There is always the concern that people raise about committees being captured by, you know, the agencies or departments they're overseeing, so I think there are tremendous advantages of having a large number of committees that oversee any particular department, particularly one so broad as the Department of Homeland Security.
They also recommended consolidation of appropriations for Homeland Security, one, Appropriation Homeland Security Subcommittee chaired by, as we know, David Price today. And, you know, the two issues there are, again, turf, and you've got other appropriation committees, subcommittees that handle it and also the bi-cameral factor, you know, they like to have parallel subcommittee structures, house and senate, so that's another consideration.
And, lastly, empowering the Foreign Affairs Committee. In my estimation, when I reviewed the three that they mentioned, I don't see how it empowers the Foreign Affairs Committee at all. One of the recommendations is to amend the budget allocation 302(a) so that you have an interagency national security function, I believe. Well, these budget functions are for informational purposes only. There's no parliamentary way to enforce them.
Secondly, they talk about firewalls. Don't transfer money out of international accounts or defense accounts into domestic accounts, but again, they deal with - that's appropriation, you know, firewalls, not dealing with authorization legislation and then a supermajority requirement, the way the rule that says authorizations are supposed to be enacted into law. They mention consideration, but they have to be enacted into law under house rules.
Two, you know, they specify what supermajority, 60, two thirds, and I believe all that does is empower a minority. It doesn't empower a majority -- the foreign affairs committee at all, and often the Foreign Affairs Committee will go to the Rules Committee to get a waiver of the rule against legislation on appropriation bills because there is a variety of reasons why you can't get, you know, a foreign aid or State Department authorization bill enacted in a timely way. And that's, I guess, really all I want to say.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you, all. Mr. Whitman and I always put ourselves on the five minute clock, and so we will begin. I think we're going to have a vote sometime between 2:00 and 2:15, but I think we've got time probably to do at least one, one round of questions.
Mr. Olson, I think I'll ask you the first question. I think you can respond just yes or no, if you'd like. One of the things that the report says is that it needs to be adopted in its entirety, all the recommendations adopted in its entirety. Do you think the chances are pretty good of that happening?
MR. OLSON: As a part-time academic and programmed to speak in 60-minute clips -- no. No. I was actually surprised, I mean, I know the people that worked on it, but there's almost a certain naiveté about it that says you're going to adopt everything -- the congress, the administration -- I wasn't sure quite why they decided to make that point.
Dr. Krepinevich, I wanted you to, if you would, tell me what you think about the changes that have already been made in President Obama's administration with regard to the National Security Advisor and National Security Council, how you see that is different from President Bush's administration, where you see that fitting into what you are recommending with regard to President Eisenhower.
DR. KREPINEVICH: Well, referring to what my colleague, Dr. Destler, said, I think people matters and thinking matters, and obviously if President Obama is not inclined to an Eisenhower-like national security staff structure, it's going to fail and there's no system that if you put it into place can survive the unwillingness of the leadership to employ that system. There's always potential for the president to find work-arounds for a system that he or she doesn't want.
Having said that, as long as we're using the Kennedy analogy, you can have a very bright, energetic, charismatic President as President Kennedy was and as many people certainly believe President Obama is, but I also recall that President Kennedy's system, in part, also contributed to, during the first 18 months or so of his administration, to, you know, we had a series of crises, whether it was the Bay of Pigs, the Vienna Summit, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, you look long term, we had this sort of stumbling along in places like Vietnam, so there is, I think, a decision for a President to make that if I want to be serious about strategy, these are some of the things that I have to do, and it doesn't have to be a carbon copy of the Eisenhower structure, but it does have to be the persistent, active involvement of the president in this kind of a process.
And certainly we don't have that right now. And I'm struck by the fact that the people who typically are very bright and who are very self-disciplined, and I think those are both qualities the president has, are capable of and who can exercise self-discipline can do some remarkable things. If you look, for example, at the history of our first President, George Washington, particularly during the Revolutionary War, his whole personality told him that he should engage the British in battle.
After getting his clock cleaned a few times, he exercised an incredible amount of self-discipline and only sought battle on those occasions most advantageous to him.
Again, you would hope that we wouldn't have to learn the hard way, that this administration wouldn't have to learn the hard way, but the structure we have set up now, it seems to me, doesn't really bring together the kinds of talent and the organization and the level of persistent commitment that was characteristic of the Eisenhower administration that I think --
REP. SNYDER: What are you, excuse me, -- (inaudible) - what do you think then of the changes that have been made thus far? I mean, there's been a couple of directives that have come from the President about changes to the National Security Council. I mean --
MR. OLSON: Well, I think there is an effort to look at problems in a more comprehensive, holistic way. I think there's -- which I think can be a good thing. I'm concerned about the fact -- and I've talked to -- and this was in a public setting, Brent Scowcroft, about this. He was concerned about the growth in the National Security Council staff. And I share that concern, the fact that it should not be a substitute for department and agency performance. It should help bring issues to the attention of the president, present them in a very logical, coherent way for his or her decision, and it should help ensure that the president's decisions are executed faithfully.
And I'm concerned about the fact that, again, there seems to be a certain amount of effort here to try and make up for the deficiencies in the departments and agencies in terms of execution and their performance in terms of identifying and presenting issues to the president.
REP. SNYDER: (Inaudible) --- what do you see the issue that -- we've had this discussion the last couple of years about the whole issue of interagency and interagency reform, which is what the --- (inaudible) --- report is talking about. In your construct, where you put a priority on strategy, and I thought your discussion was very good, where do you see -- where does the issue of interagency, the need for interagency reform, the disconnect between the different agencies of the U.S. Government, where do you see that fit into your construct on strategy and means and resources?
MR. OLSON: One of the interesting aspects of the so-called planning board on the NSC staff in the Eisenhower Administration was that, again, you had this persistent attention, but they also had the ability to go outside the organization and tap into expertise. I think here you might have the potential for organizing certain interdepartmental groups that focus on a particular issue as long as it's relevant.
And that's sort of a group -- I gave the historical example of one that was formed during the Kennedy Administration, the special interdepartmental group on counterinsurgency and that was designed to bring together various elements of the government because, as we know, counterinsurgency involves not only security but reconstruction and governance and intelligence and so on, and the effort there was to raise that to, you know, presidential attention. It was worthy of presidential attention, and in that case you had no planning board. You had Maxwell Taylor and Bobby Kennedy essentially reporting directly to the president on what kind of progress they thought they were making. It was more ad hoc. It was less rigorous than something that would be incorporated into a planning board, but I would see that as being something that could prove productive in this current environment.
REP. SNYDER: Dr. Destler.
DR. DESTLER: Could I suggest to put on the table an alternative model to Eisenhower's and that is the way policy processes went on under the first President Bush, George H.W. Bush, which you had Brent Scowcroft as the ultimately trusted, capable, low profile national security assistant, who essentially was the glue that held together a policy process at the principals' level, at the deputies level, and below. It was a good, constructive, positive interagency process. It was not an elaborate planning system. They were being hit with changes and they had to adapt to them, but they did some very farsighted things, as in making the unification of Germany on terms that were not only acceptable to Britain and France, which was difficult enough, but actually making it acceptable to Russia in a situation that -- and they did this very carefully and they did this through -- but through a set of informal relationships that were carefully nurtured by Scowcroft, whose principle was, you spend the first year in the job establishing trust, most of all with the president but with everybody else, as well, and it was an informal system, but it was very -- it was very effective.
I believe that is probably about the best that we can do in terms of high level coordination. Now, I mean, there were other, you know, you could invent a Brent Scowcroft with even greater skills in some areas. You could, you know, you could tweak it in different ways, you could say you could add, you know, maybe more budgetary analysis, but I think basically what you need to do is look for a person who can work with the president and develop informal networks, and they are supported also. There's a formal structure, too.
My colleague mentioned all the meetings that Eisenhower had with the National Security Council. I'm not -- there's something over 300, I think, during the eight years of the Eisenhower administration. I'm not sure there were that many in the entire 50 or so other years, 50 or 60 other years of the National -- and that suggests that most presidents have not found that formal, deliberative process very useful. They may be wrong, but they are the ones who make the call.
So, I think building on what the presidents want, you still need to try to develop something and you still need to try to constrain the president, but you can only do it if you have his confidence and you serve him effectively.
REP. SNYDER: My time has expired. We'll now go to members who were here at the beginning of the hearing when the gavel went down and we go to Mrs. Davis for five minutes.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to all of you for being here. I marvel a little bit in the fact that in my short time here in Congress we seem to have really gained at least some understanding and consciousness of the need to do this, which quite a few years ago we didn't really have a committee or hear -- Dr. Krepinevich, you mentioned your skepticism, I think, about the willingness of the departments and agencies to reward personnel who choose to invest in interagency expertise. How -- if we don't do that, where do we look for that kind of change in management and behavior? How do you -- can you respond to this?
DR. KREPINEVICH: My expertise is primarily associated with the Defense Department, so I'll give you an example about something I know. In the Goldwater-Nichols legislation in 1986, something called the JROC, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, was established in the Defense Department and the idea was that you would have the number two person in each of the four military services meet, along with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and they would make decisions that would be in the best interest of the Defense Department and support national security.
The idea was that you would create trade space, that this body of five would identify, you know, what the Department requirements were as opposed to their individual service requirements, and in so doing it would liberate resources to be moved from one area to another. That just hasn't happened in what, 23 years now? Yeah, you are the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. You go back to the Army and if you've lost, you've lost resources to the Air Force or the Navy, you know, you go home and you've lost the game. I mean, you should be ashamed of yourself. And, you know, we've had all different kinds of people in that environment and they're all good men, but they all come from institutions and they all know, you know, where they come from.
The way to break that logjam, I think, is you have to have a senior civilian leader in the form of the Secretary of Defense, who is willing to force that body to work, to say, look, if you don't come up with answers for me, then I'm going to make decisions based on my best understanding. I have two internal think tanks. I have the Office of Assessment that does strategy for me. I have the Office of Program Analysis and evaluation that can do trade-offs for me, and if the professional military can't give me any help, if all you're going to do is protect your rice bowls, then I'm going to make decisions based on the best information I have.
And that, I think, offers you the best chance of getting a healthy competition going to where you can get senior people to live outside their particular service or institution. Again, that's a fairly narrow example.
REP. DAVIS: If I could just interrupt for a second because in many ways that seems premised on the belief that you have deep benches on all sides, you know, that you've got people to fill in, to cross- train, to do a certain amount of work out of their own specialty, and I think one of the problems that we see -- and I hope that in the discussion we'll look at the budgets and the report talks about the interactive budgets -- integrative budgets, I'm sorry, and I think what we find so frustrating is, in many of our discussions we know that there's such an imbalance between the needs of the State Department, for example, and the Pentagon and that you just don't have the people to play those roles.
DR. KREPINEVICH: But again, let me sort of make the case for strategy. What is our strategy for dealing with increasingly disordered world that's characterized by radical Muslim fundamentalists, transnational criminal gangs, narcotics gangs?
I would submit that there are four that I've heard in my travels around Washington. One is the no more Iraqs, no more Afghanistans. This current experience is a one of a kind. We're not going to do this anymore. The military needs to get out of this business, just like after Vietnam, we'll take a 30-year break. And I've had generals tell me that.
Second is the strategy that sort of came out of the 2006 QDR, which is the indirect approach, building partner capacity. We're not going to get directly involved anymore. We're going to build up the militaries of other countries so they can defend themselves. Secretary Gates in his recent Foreign Affairs article talking about a balanced defense seemed to indicate that it was that, plus the ability to surge if the country that was truly vital to our security was coming unraveled, and then there's the fourth option that says we are going to have a strategy where, you know, we conclude that we can't get the rest of the world to help. We can't get our allies to help. We're going to have to take the lead. We're going to have to police democracy's empire. We just need to face up to that fact.
Depending on what strategy you pursue, it has profound implications for the military services, their size, their orientation, who gets what. And so I guess my plea here today is, strategy really does matter and strategy's hard to do, but you ignore it at your peril. You ignore it at the risk of compromising the nation's security, the survival and well-being of its citizens.
REP. DAVIS: I could go on, Mr. Chairman, but I suspect my time is up even though the lights are not on, so --
REP. SNYDER: Dr. Finner just is contemplating what the content was and lost track of time.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you.
REP. SNYDER: Mr. Whitman for five minutes.
REP. WITTMAN: Sure. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Members of the panel, I appreciate your coming today. Some interesting dichotomy there in your thoughts about this particular study.
Dr. Krepinevich, you pointed out really focusing on crafting good strategies and you talk about using the Eisenhower NSC model with -- including planning and operation coordination boards. Is that something that you think can be effective in the long run from administration to administration?
And the reason I say that is if you get a new administration is that something that you would say needs to transcend administrations?
And, in addition to that, what do you think on the congressional side should happen to make a decision making there more effective or efficient?
DR. KREPINEVICH: Well, let me preface it by just voicing my agreement with Dr. Destler's point that people matter here.
You can't force a particular system on a president. And they will find a way to work around it. They can have any kind of ad-hoc group they want, doesn't matter what you call the formal group. And they each have their own decision-making styles.
Having said that, my observation is if you want to craft good strategy, you need to know that it involves the persistent, active involvement of the president of the United States, that he does not have time to craft strategy himself, which is why something like the planning board, where you have, in a sense, an interdepartmental group of strategists working hard trying to identify issues, sources of advantage and so on.
You have frequent meetings of the key players, the National Security Council. It doesn't have to be the statutory -- you know, it can be just the relevant players for that issue. And you have to have some way of enforcing decisions, which was the Operations Coordinating Board.
And you have to have a president who is willing to fire people. And I think that's one of the endearing, if I can say, aspects of Secretary Gates. He will not put up with people who aren't doing their jobs.
And, again, you've got to enforce some level of rigor -- and even then, it's going to be difficult -- through an administration that is interested in crafting good strategy and trying to get it executed.
I think Congress has the oversight role. And to what extent is the administration crafting strategy? Does the strategy make sense? I think there are certainly limitations on that.
Several years ago, Chairman Hunter essentially tried to take on that mission, at least in terms of the Defense Department, and get the committee to look at various aspects of the Quadrennial Defense Review from Congress's position, as a way of being an informed B Team, if you will, or Red Team, for what the Pentagon was doing.
I participated in the National Defense Panel in 1997. I think that's another way that Congress -- you know, an independent body of experts focusing -- sort of strategy experts, if you will, sort of Congress' planning board that can at least evaluate and assess and provide Congress with an independent view of how good the administration strategy is may be another possibility.
REP. WITTMAN: Thank you.
Dr. Destler, in your opinion, has the national security advisor become a policymaker or an implementer instead of a policy advisor to the president?
And, to add to that, if the national security advisor conducts national security policy, should the appointment require Senate confirmation and allow for the person to be subject to testifying to congressional committee?
DR. DESTLER: That's a very, very good and important question, congressman.
First of all, I mean, I hate to say it depends on which national security advisor. And it's too early to tell about the present one.
I would say that most recent national security advisors have not been implementers, have not been negotiators.
Some, like Condoleezza Rice, have been very prominent public spokespeople for the administration.
Certainly, Henry Kissinger did everything when he worked for Nixon. He was the negotiator.
He was actually not the spokesman until very near the end of the first term. People don't remember that because he spoke so much after that.
But, nevertheless, the national security advisor is a very --
In principle, I do not believe the national security advisor should be confirmed by the Senate, because I think that would lead to the national security advisor, in practice, being an alternative official public spokesman.
And this would create real problems, real tensions with the Cabinet officials, particularly the secretary of state, but also the secretary of defense.
However, I would say that to the degree the national security advisor, in fact, becomes, say, the principal negotiator or becomes the most important, and visibly important, policy voice short of the president, I think Congress will quite understandably seek to have this person confirmed, because Congress naturally wants to talk to the person, the people who are really making the decisions.
So I would say I would combine my cautionary recommendation about confirmation with a caution to the national security advisor: Don't get out too much in public. If you give advice to the president, make it confidential. Don't go tell the press that you're the one who really made the decision.
And play the role quietly. Give credit to others and talk to members of congress, but don't necessarily testify. But be straight and helpful to members of Congress.
REP. SNYDER: Mrs. Pingree for five minutes.
REP. CHELLIE PINGREE (D-ME): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
And thank you very much for your presentation.
As you can see by my placement in the room, I am one of the newest members of this committee. And so I am actually here to learn as much as to ask you questions.
But let me just ask you one thing that -- any one of you, I'm happy to hear from on this. And I think one of you mentioned this idea that once we run out of money, then we have to think.
And given the suggestions that have been made here in what you've already said to us and what is written in the very thick document you have in front of you, how do some of these suggested changes have an impact on our refocusing of national defense spending?
I mean, clearly, for many of us coming in in these difficult economic times, that is one of the challenges. And given the responsibilities we have on our plate and also the interest in shifting some of the way we think about our defense priorities, how do you see some of this of having an impact on that and other suggestions you might make in that kind of realm?
MR. : That's a wonderful question.
Let me just respond very briefly because -- I think Secretary Gates has been one who has said that because the Defense Department has a bigger budget and has certain capacities, that the defense budget has been asked to carry certain activities which would be better off being carried by other parts of government, particularly the State Department. And, certainly, the whole complicated question of post-war stabilization has been one of these areas.
So I think one of the issues, which is important both in terms of congressional decision making and in terms of the administration decision making and administration planning, is how can one, at least incrementally, figure out a way to empower institutions, particularly the elements of the State Department, but other operational institutions outside the Pentagon, so that they both can get resources from Congress on a consistent basis for carrying out very strong civilian operational responsibilities and also are capable of doing that in a way that will satisfy you.
So I think that's the right question. And I think probably it's going to have to be dealt with incrementally. Hopefully, Secretary Clinton is -- I believe she is thinking about this and hopefully will work on this issue.
MR. KREPINEVICH: If I could be permitted to use my strategy example, suppose we pick let's call it the Gates strategy, in respect to dealing with a disordered world. And it's going to be an indirect approach. It's going to be building partner capacity, but we reserve the right to surge military capability into an area that's threatened.
In that case, you are going to be heavily engaged in efforts, in terms of economic assistance, in terms of assisting states that are weak states with their governance, which means you're going to have to devote more money perhaps to USAID.
You're going to have to shift funding into the State Department to train more Foreign Service officers and others that can come in and help nations improve their governance.
You may reduce the size of the Army eventually, because, again, if the Army is not going to be sort of the first source of response to these kinds of situations, but they're going to train indigenous forces, advise them, then they provide large amounts of manpower, we provide very high-quality manpower, but in very small doses.
So that strategy, over the longer term, could lead you to, again, increase your resources for organizations like USAID, State Department, probably the intelligence community, although shift that money within the intelligence community from more national technical means of gathering intelligence to human intelligence.
And then, perhaps, a reduction in the size of the Army, because they wouldn't be sort of the first and only response you'd have to a crisis situation.
And, again, that's drawn upon the results of an effort to kind of, okay, what strategy makes sense.
In this case, you'll recall I talked about strategy involves identifying and exploiting sources of advantage. Theoretically, you would be exploiting two sources of advantage.
One is high-quality manpower in terms of advising, equipping, training, improving governance.
The other is the scale of effort. Assuming we right our economy and so on and strengthen the foundation, we have the ability to provide assistance on a greater scale than just about any other country in the world. And so for small countries it seems like a huge amount of funding.
And, of course, we have a history -- sometimes good, the Marshall Plan, sometimes bad, Alliance for Progress -- in terms of success here.
REP. SNYDER: Mr. Thornberry for five minutes.
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you and Mr. Wittman allowing me to set in.
And I have not had a chance to read Dr. Destler's book. I have read about it.
I have had the -- to read Dr. Krepinevich's recent book on the importance of -- one of the things about it -- importance of strategic planning, which makes a very persuasive case for me.
I guess I'd like to step back from the questions you've had so far and ask do you think we need to make significant organizational changes?
I think a lot of the impetus for this report came from maybe two things. One is the world is more interconnected than ever. So we cannot be effective and have military over here and diplomacy over here and economic assistance over here and so forth.
But, secondly, there's a feeling that the military had to do everything in Iraq and Afghanistan that the other departments never showed up. And while individuals did amazing things on the ground that the bureaucracies were in their stovepipe worried about turf and the budget. So, I mean, I think that's a lot of what got us here.
And I appreciate the issues you all have brought up with this particular report, but do you think we need to have significant organizational change or can it be adjusted according to our president's preferences and we can kind of get along?
DR. KREPINEVICH: If I had to vote, I would vote in favor of the argument that people matter. It matters who the president of the United States is. It matters whether that person is willing to devote persistent time and attention to crafting good strategies and, quite frankly, being ruthless in implementing them in terms of dealing with recalcitrant or reluctant elements of the bureaucracy.
I think thinking matters. I'm a big fan of thinking relative to process. And not to say that structure isn't important and process isn't important, but, again, I honestly believe that there's a shortfall in terms of strategic thinking, strategic confidence. And that's one thing I think that the project really did hit very well.
The notion that the world is more complicated, okay, the world is more complicated.
Marshall Plan, late 1940s, I mean, that was a confluence of a number of factors. There were economic factors. There were security factors, intelligence issues that needed to be brought to bear, diplomacy on a very high level.
The Suez crisis in 1956. Soviets threatening to launch nuclear rockets on Paris and London. Eisenhower using U.S. economic leverage to get the British to pull out of Suez and end the conflict, diplomacy to wrap things up, trying to improve the U.S. position in that part of the world.
You know, the world's been a messy place for a very long time, and it typically -- not typically, but often the case -- that there's an interweaving.
Kennedy's special group, counter-insurgency, you know, CIA, State, USAID -- you know, in a sense, we've been to this movie before.
And so while I always believe that we can improve structure and process, I think what really matters is people -- as my colleague, Dr. Destler says -- and thinking. You know, coming up with a good -- I'd rather have a mediocre execution of a great strategy than a great execution of a mediocre strategy.
MR. : One of the ways you can, I think, think about people, but also think about sort of structure -- process is you need to have people at various levels of the system who know who are the relevant players in the government on a particular issue and can have -- are empowered to pull them together.
And it may be partly what agencies they're from and what base they have. It'll be partly who is good, who is capable of moving things and getting the process to work.
And I think that probably has to be done more in an informal than a formal way. But, nevertheless, it's good to have like a principal's committee structure and the NSC and a deputy's committee structure and some regional groups at a level below that. But they sort of ought to be --
And I think that's one of the good things about this report is they do talk about flexible empowering of interagency groups and trying very much to push the responsibility down in a way that people in the agencies can not only participate and influence, but influence it in the name of the broader purpose, rather than simply -- So I think one needs to look for devices like that.
But I can't think of an organizational reform that would promote that way -- you know, in terms of a structural change -- that would do anything other than -- Little things like the State Department created an office of reconstruction around the middle of the Bush administration. And I think this was a constructive enterprise.
People said, well, is the State Department powerful enough to do this? Maybe. Maybe not. Were they able to get interagency cooperation? Well, a little bit. So I think you need to look for ways to make those things better.
But I think some things like that probably are worth doing, hopefully helpful.
REP. THORNBERRY: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SNYDER: We have votes going on. And I think, given that we have votes and we've been here about an hour and a half, I don't think we'll keep you all sitting here.
Do you have anything further you'd like to ask, Mr. Wittman? Ms. Davis? Ms. Pingree?
Members may have questions for the record. And let me just extend to you the offer that if you all have anything written that you'd like to have attached to this, except this is a question for the record, send us anything you'd like to to add on.
We appreciate your all's contributions today, but also -- all three of you here -- your contributions through a lot of years to these kind of discussions. And we appreciate you.