Letter to the Editor

Cutting the redundancy in the armed forces

Walter Pincus hit the nail on the head with his April 23 Fine Print column, “Costly overlap in the military,”describing the enormous duplication in the armed services. The overlap of intelligence and surveillance capabilities he described is only a small part of this problem. There is also huge redundancy in all airpower missions, in special operations forces and, now, in the fast-growing domain of cyberwarfare. Each service seeks to be the “king of cyber,” launching cybercommands with similar, if not identical, capabilities.

The major goal of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act was to force the services to work together in joint operations, each supporting the others by providing forces and expertise without duplication — interdependent, not independent. But, over the years, service parochialism and a shortage of trust have trumped interdependence, leaving large, duplicative forces. Even a rich and profligate nation cannot afford such an overlap in capabilities. Interdependence is a long-overdue solution.

John Michael Loh, Williamsburg

The writer, a retired Air Force general, was commander of Air Combat Command from 1992 to 1995.

 
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