Around the edges of Congress and among the leaders, there are signs that government seeks a new equilibrium, a place at which it can become functional again. This propensity for becoming functionally normal is a result of several factors:
- Intensifying citizen needs
Intensifying global events
- Pressure on politicians to be reelectable
I watched part of the Senate Armed Services proceedings this week where there were public hearings and testimony from military commanders. It was part of the requirement leading up to the Senate budget formation. In the wake of sequester, questions focused on the commanders' assessment of military preparedness and capacity to serve its missions.
In one report in the Washington Post, the Senate proceeding was described as “awkward.” I would use a different description. Aside from a super positive testimony from the Special Operations commander, Admiral William Harry McRaven, others like Commander, U.S. Central Command General Mattis sounded esoteric, lofty, and empty like a retired general making a speech at a history club.
Most Americans haven’t a clue about how the government “provides for the common defense.” Working for the Department of Defense as a contractor consultant over many years, I had the opportunity to model how military departments accomplish this. I participated in creating process and data models to address different departments and processes.
Producing models enables one to start with certain outcomes and performance metrics to be achieved. Then, modelers and military experts describe how the outcomes will be produced by processes. Processes are enabled by people and technology. People are defined by special skill, knowledge, and experience and aggregated into military organizations. All of this is attributed with cost and time metrics that are reflected in budget and funding requests.
Capital, material, and other resources are pumped into the processes for transformation by work into desired outcomes that result in providing levels of security and victories against enemies.
The entire process is governed by American laws and regulations including plans, programs and directions from the executive branch as well as constraints imposed by Congress that include budgets, schedules, and funding authorization.
The point is that there is a structure and foundation for discussing the performance, cost and status of military commands that the President, Congress, Military and citizens should know, understand, and use to have public discussions. In the absence of that, what we all hear and speak about is gibberish, even to people who are supposed to know what is going on.
Against this backdrop is a plethora of corporations and lobbyists that represent the military industrial complex, grinding their axes to preserve and increase funding. When the well is dry, the fight for water becomes fierce with hurtful consequences.
By that, I mean that defense budget fighters are in combat with social services budget fighters over shrinking resources. The tradeoff is more or less military security and social security: guns or butter?
What sounds good in the House of Representatives is the search for bipartisanship. See the story posted here.
"Royce looks to check Obama's 'zeal for the deal' on Iran, North Korea
By Julian Pecquet - 03/10/13 05:00 AM ET
Since becoming chairman in January of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – a panel where he’s served for 20 years -- Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has worked assiduously to forge a bipartisan foreign policy.
His aim, he told The Hill this week: To pave the way for tough new sanctions against Iran and North Korea should President Obama's engagement efforts fail.
Royce introduced a new Iran sanctions bill last week, and is working on legislation to cut off proceeds from illegal activities to the North Korean regime.
Congress blocked Kerry from offering more Egypt aid
“There is a pull-and-push between the zeal for the deal, which is always present in an executive branch, versus the experience on part of the legislative body,” Royce said in an interview in his office this week.
“My presumption is that eventually it's going to become all too obvious that the 1994 framework agreement [with North Korea] failed, as well as the decade-long negotiations with Iran. And at that time, it's time to find a creative approach that would work. My goal is to continue to develop a bipartisan consensus in the House and in the Senate that will allow us to address some of the real challenges that we face, rather than to simply put them off.”