I think we need to cut the middleman out of government commissions. It takes no prophet to determine what the recommendations will be of any appointed commission. After 9/11 we saw how that the FBI and CIA were not efficiently sharing information with each other, so we get another level of bureaucracy in the Homeland Security Department. Now we can have the FBI and CIA and the Homeland Security Department not share information efficiently.
We saw the massive failure of airline security and surprise-surprise what do we get. Federalized screeners.
Now the 9/11 commission wants a National Intelligence Director and to upgrade the present terrorist threat integration center with a national counter intelligence center.
The old saying garbage in, garbage out when applied to commissions becomes bureaucracy in, bureaucracy out. We could have saved all that time and money and political intrigue with the 9/11 commission and just went strait to expanding government. This is always the political answer so lets just cut out the middleman.
There is just something about humans and organizations and how fast competition and rivalry occurs between organizations with the same mission. This behavior rarely enhances the mission and often distracts from it. During one tour while in the Navy I was working with Naval Air Command (NAVAIR ) and their counterparts in the Pentagon. There has always been rivalry in the services between the different branches, but even within the Navy there was rivalry. The group I had worked with had done some development in the training for a missile system that could be delivered via aircraft or ship. SInce we had already developed all of the up front analysis in what equipment and resources were needed for this system we contacted our counterparts in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to offer this to them. They didn’t want to have anything to do with us and even though this was a freebie. Instead of joint commands working together I found it to be more like separate kingdoms, each with it’s own agenda.
The missile system itself was a case of governments working together. The Penguin Anti-Ship Missile was developed by the Norwegian Navy and was being forced on us for political reasons, not because it was better than the Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile.
During the Iranian Hostage Crisis we ended up with three Aircraft Carriers in the Indian Ocean awaiting developments in Iran. The area we were deployed was called Gonzo Station. Not named after a Muppet but after Gonzo journalism where anything can happen. Towards the end of one three month at-sea period our ship for entertainment had published a Gonzo Station coloring book as a joke. Besides the silly pictures for coloring and cartoons, it also had a page of definitions. My favorite was the following.
Mutual Carrier Operations: Three carriers conducting mutually exclusive operations in support of each other
This phrase always stuck with me because it is a perfect definition of how government works. Replace carriers with the branches of government and the phrase remains true. This understanding was the beginning of my political education. I would hope that the commissions recommendations don’t come about but unfortunately that will probably not be the case. I wonder what we will do when there isn’t once person left who is not working for the government in some capacity? Will we then start a cabinet position in charge of emigrating bureaucrats?
About rivalry between commands within a service:
I never served in the military, Jeff, but I read a lot of 1980s military journals (USNI Proceedings, Naval War College Review) as a teen and in my early-20s for HS and college debate. (This would have been about the time you were in the service.)
I remember an article written by a submariner in which the writer said there were just two types of ships — submarines and targets. The writer also complained that the carrier folks in the Navy rigged the war games so no US carrier was ever sunk, and the submariners among themselves considered the games a failure if they didn’t get at least three (I think) clear shots at a carrier. As I said, the article was written by a submariner, so take it for what it’s worth, but …
But the broader analogy you make is spot on. Regardless of the virtue of the men in them, bureaucracies always act to perpetuate and justify themselves, and a higher bureaucracy over two or 10 others will become (at best) another source and focus for institutional rivalry.
I think the Submariners are right on that issue. Though I think submariners are of lower quality than us surface sailors. After all they only have sub-standards.
I’m hoping to travel soon, any other sites to find good cheap hotels?
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