Codified, But Will They Last?

In 2006 with the arrival of the last Quadrennial Defense Review, the Bush Pentagon introduced a new capabilities-based approach to defense planning and budgeting. Over the years, the capability categories, now defined as 10 Joint Capability Areas, have changed somewhat, but the focus is the same: to empower the combatant commanders in the budget drills. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England on Sept. 25 signed out DOD Directive 7045.20, which now codifies the role of Capability Portfolio Management teams, assigning senior OSD civilians and unified commands as leads. The CPMs, wrote Jason Sherman in Air Force Magazine’s September issue, “are the new focus of a long-running debate over whether the services shortchange present needs for future capabilities, or if wartime commanders are dangerously obsessed with here-and-now problems and indolent in preparing for larger dangers of the future.” The CPMs will not have “independent decision-making authority,” per the directive, but they will wield hefty influence in the budgeting and programming of scarce defense dollars. They will “evaluate capability demand (both warfighting and non-warfighting) against resource constraints, identify and assess risks, and suggest capability trade-offs.” They will have an advocacy role, that is, if the structure survives the new Administration. (You can find the 10 capability portfolios/JCAs and their designated leads in enclosure 2 of DODD 7045.20) (Sherman’s article The Services Meet the Warlords)