Last week the CNO announced that the Information Dominance Directorate would not be acquiring programs and officers from the Surface and Submarine Warfare Divisions (N86 and N87). This decision took two years of study and was the final piece that tells us that N6’s merge with N2 really was to just free up a flag billet…which is what N6 has been doing every other year since inception.
But that’s not the 19th Century thinking. The old-think stems from the inability to further erode the power of the platform in favor of the modern dominance of the information. At the same time we see one part of the Navy realizing that the Littoral Combat Ship needs it’s own Program Executive Office to merge combat systems and hulls another part of the Navy is furthering the divide between the information and the platforms that use it.
Today’s modern Chief of Naval Operations Staff (OPNAV) is an amalgamation and transformation that only centuries of bureaucracy can provide. It often reminds me of the house I grew up in – it had been added on to and remodeled so many times that while it looked good from the outside and functioned well on the inside it was neither efficient, logical or the way any architect would have put it together. Which is probably why after the last hurricane to hit my hometown, the owners chose to tear it down rather than repair.
Now, I am not advocating that a natural disaster needs to so thoroughly wreck OPNAV that it would have to be rebuilt from scratch (though I suspect that there are many who would cheer at the thought, at least the wrecking part). Instead I propose that someone, somewhere should take a look at the mission and functions – both statutory and adopted – of the OPNAV staff and redesign it so that it becomes both efficient and logical.
To begin with – the term “Operations” should be removed. The Navy Staff has nothing to do with the operational movement of forces, nor should they. That is what Fleets are for and too many in the staff of the “Chief of All Naval Operations” think that they are there to move the chess pieces. What the Staff is really there to do is two fold – set policy and develop budgets. If it’s not one of those two things, then it’s probably make work or self-imposed churn.
Of course, we can’t just go off into la-la land and ignore some other realities – the “N-code” construct is something that needs to be retained as it is simple and universal within the various armed forces. Bad enough that we have so many different combinations of camouflage, at the very least our admin (where already aligned) should remain so.
How would one version of a redesigned staff look?
N1 – Personnel Policy: support the CNO (yes, keep the title) in formulating policy for the “man” and “train” functions. Move the Community Managers back to N1 and make Commander, Naval Personnel Command the executer of the current year budget (akin to the manner in which CFFC relates to CNO).
N2 – Disestablish: Intelligence functions do not need to be on a administrative staff.
N3 – Operational Policy: Force deployment allocation, deployment length, if there is a policy that applies to the application of forces ashore or at sea, this is where it gets approved. It might be developed somewhere else, but this is where it’s vetted before going to N5 and CNO
N4 – Logistics Policy: All things supply. And ammunition. And medical. And commissary. And infrastructure.
N5 – Strategy Formulation and Policy Wholeness: What are we doing long term? And, do all of our policies make sense when put together?
N6 – Communications Spectrum Policy:
N7 – Disestablish
N8 – Budget Wholeness: Build the budget. This is the only one that I will speak to subcodes:
- N81: Personnel budgetting. Works in N8, N1 signs concurrent report.
- N82: Intelligence system budgetting. Works in N8, Defense Intelligence Agency signs concurrent report.
-N83: Operations budgetting. Works in N8, N3 and CUSFFC sign concurrent report.
-N84: Logistics budgetting. Works in N8, N4 signs concurrent report.
-N85: Platforms: The hull, airframe, seaframe, people tank what ever you want to call the macro platform.
-N86: Communications budgetting. Works in N8, N6 signs concurrent report.
-N87: Sensors: How the platforms see
-N88: Weapons: How the platforms kill
Policy. Budget. That’s all. All those other things that OPNAV does now? Figure out (1) what value do they provide and then either stop doing the things without real value or realign those things with value to the appropriate operational commander.
And I am certain someone will quibble (especially about that N2 part) but at least it’s a place to start a discussion that is both long overdue and likely to not to have any official sanction any time soon.
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