Tuesday, May 15, 2007

LTG Lute, new "war czar" - iffy name, good move

See Bush's new "war czar". It's interesting because it's new, but structurally speaking, this new position really hasn't changed anything.

The appointment of LTG Lute under the auspices of the National Security Council makes sense. It points to a failure of the NSC rather than representing an outsourcing of command. The global war on terror, with the main theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not a wholly military affair. It is a full-spectrum affair requiring the coordination and cooperation of a multitude of agencies, GOs, IOs, NGOs, which means bureaucratic headaches multiplied. On the ground, that job goes to (military) Civil Affairs and PRTs. From the President’s office, inter-agency management traditionally falls to the NSC, where LTG Lute now works.

This move makes it obvious that the NSC has not been effective vis-a-vis Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush’s job as CinC hasn’t changed with this appointment, nor does it warp the existing chain of command in Iraq and/or CentCom. The simple assumption is that LTG Lute’s role in the NSC will be to manage the cooperation and coordination of agencies and possibly act as a direct representative of the President who can move freely across bureaucracies vis-a-vis Iraq and Afghanistan . . . in other words, what the NSC should have been doing anyway.

Like the surge strategy, this “war czar” signifies a lesson learned and a President (belatedly?) willing to bite the bullet on a home-team failure and make adjustments. I just hope we’re learning these hard lessons in time to make a difference.

From National Security Council's Function:

The National Security Council is the President's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.


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