Charged with fighting the nation’s wars, Combatant Commanders identify capability requirements in the planning
process and assess if current capabilities delivered by the services are sufficient to execute assigned missions. Any inability to execute a specified course of action is considered a capability gap. Gaps may be the result of a lack of an existing capability, lack of proficiency or sufficiency in an existing capability, or the need to replace an existing capability to prevent a future gap. The primary lever to address capability gaps is through the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System or JCIDS. JCIDS provides a transparent process to balance Joint equities and make informed decisions on validation and prioritization of capability requirements.
In its conception, JCIDS was built as a deliberate planning tool to mitigate risk involved with capability gaps through both material and non-material solutions. The deliberate nature of the JCIDS process assured that prudent due diligence was undertaken to validate and prioritize requirements, increase interoperability, and reduce redundancy. While JCIDS was effective at identifying, assessing, validating, and prioritizing Joint military capability requirements as charted, one drawback to the process was that it could take years to close or mitigate a capability gap. In the long-term planning arena, this detailed and time consuming process was adequate, but for a country at war, gaps identified on battlefields needed to be assessed and fielded quicker.
JCIDS Adapting to the Speed of Operations
As the fight continued during OEF/OIF, it became apparent that the current process within JCIDS could not keep up with the speed of operations on the ground. Understanding that units in conflict or crisis may face unforeseen military requirements that must be addressed sooner than the deliberate process permits, DOD developed an expedited staffing process to address mission-critical warfighting capability gaps that threaten the lives of U.S. or allied personnel, or threaten mission accomplishment. This new expedited staffing process added Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement (JUONS) and Joint Emergent Operational Needs Statement (JEONS) as lanes to complement the JCIDS deliberate process. Combatant Commanders submit JUONS and JEONS to the Joint Staff gatekeeper for staffing and adjudication. For incoming JUONS and JEONS, the Joint Staff gatekeeper assigns one of the six functional capabilities boards (FCB) as the Joint Staff lead for review, staffing and development of the Joint Staff position.
JUONS/JEONS are binned to an FCB for action based on the Joint capability areas (JCA). Logistics JCAs are in the purview of the logistics FCB (Log FCB), which is chaired and staffed by the Joint Staff directorate for logistics commonly known as the J4. The principal action officer within the logistics FCB is the logistics FCB secretariat. The logistics FCB secretariat has overall responsibility of the process within the logistics FCB. For the past five years the logistics FCB secretariat has been staffed by a Supply Corps commander.
FCBs, Assessment and ‘Shoe Leather’
The day-to-day charge of the logistics FCB secretariat is to keep the JCIDS process on track, ensure each issue is given its proper due diligence, and continue its path to meeting required milestones, which can take months to years to be fully vetted and employed. When it comes to JUONS/JEONS, due to the expedited process, much of the analysis and staffing conducted through deliberate process by several supporting organizations is now primarily accomplished (personally) by the secretariat. To meet the mandated 15 and/or 21 day timeframes for JUONS and JEONS requires the secretariat to not only leverage his/her expert knowledge of the process, but also requires his/her to have a working understanding on how to quickly assess the issue across multiple disciplines to arrive at a Joint Staff position and recommendation.
In most cases, a submitted JUON/JEON is not a surprise; there has been some level of dialogue between the submitting Combatant Commander and the Joint Staff on the issue at hand. Although the secretariat may have some understanding of the topic, his/her initial action in conducting the expedited due diligence is to contact the submitting Combatant Command to ensure he/she understands, in detail, the issue at hand. Once he/she has a firm understanding of the gap and of the Combatant Command’s desired outcome, he/she begins expending ‘Shoe Leather’. Expending ‘Shoe Leather’ is literally walking the halls of the Pentagon and meeting with the various offices that have equity with the JUON/JEON. Primary stops of the ‘Shoe Leather’ Express are the services, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and other Joint Staff directorates.
Under Title 10, services are responsible to train, equip and man the force. What this means is the services are funded to deliver capabilities to the Joint Warfighter (Combatant Commander). This is important because most JUONS/JEONS require a service to fund a solution outside what is currently programmed in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM). This means that the service may have to defund another program to support the JUON/JEON, which could increase risk in another vital area. The secretariat works with the service to understand the ripple effects of supporting the JUON/JEON. Additionally, the secretariat, along with the impacted service and the other services, look for other potential ways to address or mitigate the capability gap by other capabilities currently in their respective portfolios or through non-materiel doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities (DOTMLPF) solutions. At the end of the staffing with the services, the secretariat should have a thorough appreciation of potential long-term impacts to the services’ Title 10 responsibilities associated with funding the JUON/JEON, as well as other potential courses of action that may mitigate the Combatant Commander’s risk concerns.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is the principal staff element of the Secretary of Defense in the exercise of
policy development, planning, resource management, fiscal and program evaluation responsibilities. The two principal touch points within OSD for logistic JUONs/JEONs are the Office for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics [OUSD(AT&L)]. OSD CAPE is responsible for analyzing and evaluating plans, programs, and budgets in relation to U.S. defense objectives, projected threats, allied contributions, estimated costs, and resource constraints. Additionally, OSD CAPE ensures costs of DoD programs are presented accurately and completely. USD(AT&L) is the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary of Defense for all matters concerning acquisition, technology, and logistics. At the end of the staffing with OSD, the secretariat should have an appreciation of how the proposed JUON/JEON fits in the big picture in regards to DoD objectives and threats, if the projected costs for the JUON/JEON are complete and accurate, and if the proposed JUON/JEON solution is technically mature enough to be acquired in the requested timeframe.
Other Joint Staff Directorates
The Joint Staff’s Operations Directorate (J3) and Plans and Policy Directorate (J5) inform the Joint Staff position. The J3 is the Joint Staff’s arm focused on current operations and plans. Among many other duties, the J5 is charged with developing the Chairman’s Risk Assessment (CRA). The CRA is his evaluation of the strategic and military risks associated with executing the missions called for in the National Military Strategy. After consultations with J3 and J5, the secretariat will have an opinion of the suitability of the JUON/JEON from operators, as well as an assessment of how the JUON/JEON affects strategic and military risks.
New Shoes, the Joint Staff Position and Approval
After stopping at the NEX for a new pair of shoes, the most difficult portion of the secretariat’s job begins. Armed with information collected on the ‘Shoe Leather Express,’ the secretariat now must form his/her opinion on information collected and develop the Joint Staff’s position on the subject JUON/JEON. What makes this the difficult portion is that while much of the information collected will corroborate the requesting Combatant Command’s urgency and risk, there is usually significant data that will either refute the urgency or strongly demonstrate that the risk should be accepted because of other priorities. The secretariat must use this information along with his/her understanding of national security priorities to form the all-important Joint Staff position on the JUON/JEON. The Joint Staff position recommended by the secretariat becomes the default position as the JUON/JEON begins the approval process. The approval process consists of briefs the secretariat may conduct at both the FCB (07 level) and the Joint Capabilities Board (09 level) before a final decision is made at the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the vice service chiefs rounding out the council. If approved, the JUON/JEON is sent to OSD’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell for action. If disapproved, the logistics FCB will work with the affected Combatant Command to mitigate the risk through other avenues such as DOTMLPF solutions discussed earlier.
The ‘So What?’
Although staffing a JUON/JEON can be a laborious task, the benefits gained far outweigh the rigor required. Staffing a JUON/JEON requires a keen appreciation of the acquisition and integrated employment of services’ capabilities in the pursuit of national objectives, an expertise in developing and evaluating strategic concepts within the military environment, an understanding of how plans are created and executed, and the ability to make consequential decisions in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous strategic environment. During our time in this position, we came away with an appreciation of what it takes to be an effective Joint Staff Officer. We gained an appreciation of not only how very senior leaders come to decisions, but also an appreciation of the multitude of equities that need considered during the decision staffing to prevent second, third, and fourth order effects of these decisions from eroding national security. Senior leaders could not come to the decisions without the tireless work of strategic minded, critical thinking staff officers with a firm understanding of the intricacies and requirements of the Joint warfight.
By Cmdr. Chuck Dwy, SC, USN, and Cmdr. Kadiatou Sidibe, SC, USN; Former and Current Log FCB Secretariat, the Joint Staff, J4