Mark Collins – Oppressive White House National Security Bureaucracy Bloat

The–retired–military and the outside bureaucracy fight back (the deep state?):

NSC Staff Too Big, Too Activist: Top Former Generals, Officials 

The Senate and House Armed Services committees’ push to review the foundational law underpinning today’s US military, known as Goldwater-Nichols, was given a boost today by a group of top former generals and mostly Democratic Pentagon officials.

Their biggest takeaway: the National Security Council  is too big and takes activist positions on military operations instead of mediating the interagency process.  Breaking D readers are familiar with this problem. In addition to those problems, identified by the first panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this morning, a group of former generals and Democratic added their authority to a letter (which appears below) calling for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the national security process and the Pentagon’s command structure.

…the morning panel hammered away in particular at the NSC, which has grown from 40 people under the first President Bush to almost 400 under President Obama [emphasis added]…

Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz noted how intrusive the NSC often is in both policy and in operations. “The NSC should not be activists. They should have a limited — if any role — in execution.” He pointed to the fact that Central Command leaders in Afghanistan often had to spend most of their sleeping hours doing video teleconferences with the White House. “I think there’s a fundamental dysfunction there which is not healthy.”

Jamie Gorelick, a member of the Defense Policy Board which offers advice directly to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, said the White House had generally siphoned authority away from the traditional departments and invested its officials with greater authority over the execution and creation of policy…

Washington centre, anyone? Of course being almost constantly at war will incline any POTUS to centralize control. And modern communications technology makes centralized oversight ever more easy and convenient–and tempting.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a  Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he  tweets @Mark3Ds

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