Goldwater-Nichols for suits

From Inside the Pentagon (subscription required):

Bush administration officials are preparing an executive order for the president’s signature that calls for sweeping changes in educational programs and career development for the federal workforce so professionals in each agency with a national security mission can learn how to better work across organizational lines when tackling 21st-century threats, according to sources and documents.

The gist is they’re trying to create of a uniform set of standards that will allow for the migration/rotation of  practitioners across the various national security-related agencies.

The original seed for this effort was to be the NDU, but apparently that idea has been (wisely) scratched in order to create a “consortium” of government institutions from which aspiring national security advisors and undersecretaries can gain the requisite knowledge. A smarter move: develop and promulgate a core curriculum and take the NSA Center of Academic Excellence approach. You’re never going to have enough slots at any single institution to fill the demand (it is cut-throat enough already trying to get a civilian slot to a service school), so spread the effort out as widely as you can.  Besides, who would you prefer: someone educated at MIT or someone subjected to the military education system?

Even if supply and demand issues are sorted out, the planners and implementers of this effort need to take a long hard look at similar efforts and what makes them fail. I’m speaking of the Intelligence Community Officer Program, which has gone through a couple of iterations and still isn’t what is could/should be.

Signing up for the program is easy; getting into the requisite classes and then convincing your respective hierarchy to cut you loose for the necessary rotation assignment is another thing entirely. Even if everything works out like a charm, there is precious little chance that your home agency will put your newfound skills and experience to good use (which is why so many participants opt to stay with their adopted agency).

All in all a good idea, but there are lot of potholes on the road they’re about to travel down.

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