Establish good civilian guidance

In 2015, the director of the Joint Staff introduced the basic problems of national defense policy formulation to national defense researchers: "We want goals, they want choices," he said. "They asked us to provide choices, and we asked them," What is your goal? "Both of us heard colleagues in military uniforms complaining about the lack of civilian guidance, whether in crisis or strategy Choose on.

At the same time, the belief in the unique value of military expertise gave birth to the term "best military advice," indicating that there is no doubt that unified military thinking is superior to alternative (especially civilian) thinking. Regardless of its views on its inviolability, military advice and expertise supporting it tend to overshadow civilian judgment in the decision-making process. However, it is the role of civilian guidance that requires attention.

Guidance is the privilege of civilians-the basic way for civilians to control the army. This is also a large part of the work of the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of Defense issues guidance on all aspects of the implementation of national defense strategies, war plans, expenditure priorities, and the use of military power. Although it plays a vital role in meaningful control and supervision of civilians, good civilian guidance concepts will benefit from careful definition and defined guidance.

What is “civilian” instruction?

The guidance itself is neither civilian nor military. Guidance is just an expression of the desired goal, result or activity, usually expressed in exclusive terms: I want this rather than that . It can "appear in various formats and names," as the US Bureau of Management and Budget emphasizes on good administrative guidance.

However, the purpose of the guidance is also to specify the actor to perform an operation under the specified authority. : With my authority, I instruct you to perform this operation instead of performing this operation . Therefore, what makes the guidance "civilian" (or, in this case, military) is the identity of the provider and the political and legal authority associated with that identity.

The authority of the Pentagon ’s civilian leaders to issue guidance to the military is usually specified in Chapter 10 of the United States Code. For example, the Deputy Secretary of Defense ’s policy responsibility includes providing “strategic policy guidance for the activities of the Ministry of Defense”. The basic purpose of such guidance is to guide and delineate the main activities and resources of the army. The power to issue the law comes from the principles of law and representative government. Civil rights created by democracy ensure democratic civil rights control.

Therefore, obtaining correct guidance is essential for the effective exercise of civilian supervision. Mastering it is more important than now. Although officers will recognize the principle of military obedience to civilian control, many uniformed Americans still question the wisdom, sincerity, and ability of civilian leadership. This sense of erosion of civilians may overwhelm their formal authority with informal bureaucracy, such as leading the process of writing instructions themselves. Moreover, for those who question whether civilians can have the expertise and credibility necessary to have the final say in national defense policy making, providing and implementing good guidance is essential to effectiveness. In short, civilians cannot rely on their own privileges to control national defense affairs. Involves and has always been related to skill sets. Such military skill sets have not been systematically mastered like military systems.

In this article, we focus on the formal written expression of folk guidance. Although the controversial binding nature of civilian speeches, e-mails, and tweets is itself an important research focus, this article provides a starting point for these future explorations. We focus our attention on the civil guidance issued by the Ministry of Defense in order to isolate the basic outline of good civil guidance from broader context variables such as inter-agency or inter-sectoral competition. Although civilians on Capitol Hill and the White House have also issued guidance to the military, formulating policy guidance in the context of national defense is a useful way to focus discussions, especially because the Department of Defense is participating.

Guide 101

The civilian guide starts with strategy. When officers say that civilians should "give guidance" and let the military execute, they usually refer to strategic purposes. However, guidance is not just a clear expression of goals. In the classic "end-to-end approach" construction, the guide not only provides the required goals, but also provides detailed information about the preferred methods and means to achieve these goals. As a result, the complete guidance formula looks like this: Under my authority, I hope that these five things are arranged in order of priority. The risks include giving up these other things and constraining yourself in other ways. Some of the most outstanding defense strategy documents provide guidance based on this basic formula. "Defense Strategy" articulates the priority defense goals-strategic goals-every four years and points out the key capabilities and changes in force structure to achieve these goals-methods and means.

Guidance found in this strategy However, the documentation is usually not sufficient and must be supplemented by official supporting documents and regularly strengthened by civilian supervision to effectively guide implementation. Because the flow of guidance is more regular than strategic documents and related to the implementation of these documents, the guidance contains more detailed information about what the military department should do and how it should be done. Two main examples were found in National Defense Planning Guide and Emergency Planning Guide (formerly Troop Usage Guide ). These documents are issued annually or semi-annually, reminding the audience of the strategy's parameters and arrangement in a short way, and then focusing on how to make the strategy a reality.

Therefore, the guidance can be a product of technical bureaucrats, or it can be a strategy related to government disposal. Troops and their mission organization or fundamental national interests. Therefore, politics does not give technical bureaucracy guidance like pure strategy. Indeed, as the study of the presidential leadership during the war showed, the politics of using force is closely related to the methods and means of military action. Therefore, providing guidance to the military is a key way to maintain civilian control, as it provides detailed follow-up guidance on how to develop the military and how to derive politically derived national priorities.

However, as in many daily civilian and military activities, guidance is a practice, not a formal constraint. Although the power to issue guidance is based on law and is strengthened by Congressional budget control, the guidance itself is not an order, and therefore is not legally binding. In this way, civilian guidance is different from orders issued by two civilians on the military chain of command. Although the guidance should include legal guidance, military personnel must implement it through norms on the one hand, and provide incentives by civilians on the other hand to implement the guidance. That is to say, although professional and organizational standards have disciplined compliance with the guidance, civilians may be instructed or punished for ignoring the guidance. However, such constraints are not as rigid as legal ones. In addition, since guidance may be interpreted by the military, guidance depends to some extent on the professionalism, expertise, and intentions of the performer.

These flexible aspects of guidance can cause deep military and civilian tensions. They also increase the importance of inter-organizational and interpersonal relationships to maintain the trust and honest communication necessary to establish and understand guidance. This case illustrates the classic principal-agent problem, where the principal relies on the agent to perform its guidance. As Peter Feaver said, the less serious the principal is about the guidance and relationship with the agent, the less he will pay close attention to the agent ’s implementation. However, the closer she monitors, the easier it is to tighten the trust relationship between herself and the agent. Civilians have the legal privilege to issue instructions to the military, but they do not necessarily have the same credibility of expertise as those in uniforms-neither because people do not have a good understanding of civilian expertise nor treat it as sacred -Make the importance of mastering guidance more important to civilians.

Four tests of good civilian guidance

The above discussion has several implications for what constitutes good civilian guidance. It must not only be based on political background and policy judgment, but also on the level of expertise including how military operations and capabilities contribute to strategic success. It must follow strict and sensible logic consistent with broader national goals and be expressed in an incomprehensible way. In addition, the possibility of its implementation depends not only on the authority of the principal, but also on her trust. Considering this framework, we believe that good civil defense guidelines have to undergo four tests.

First of all, good civil defense guidelines should focus on important things, which are either new things or things that indicate change. Since the guidance is related to national defense activities, the new guidance means that these activities have been modified or supplemented. The guidelines supporting 2008 National Defense Strategy represent a major change in the Ministry of National Defense. The secretary said that by changing procurement and force structure guidance, from conventional capabilities to counter-insurgency capabilities have been formally transformed into supporting contemporary operations. Regarding the 2016 National Defense Planning Guide which emphasized the preparation of new and different challenges for Russia and China, these reports have proved the value of clarification. One of us led the development of this document and its previous version and tried to increase clarity through bold categories, highlighting areas of investment, maintenance, and risk-taking in an effort to articulate strategic and budgetary priorities.

The important guidance did not convey the desire of the edge. If civilians have to sniff the details of picayune, they have lost control and made the situation worse. Civilians should be as modest as possible under the guidance. The excessive use of the memo by former defense minister Donald Rumsfeld is a good example of the overwhelming guidance (or similar guidance). The memo is briefly referred to as "snowflake" but in large numbers. For example, such snowflakes complain about communication connection errors. Interfering with bureaucracy with a large number of directions and requirements will confuse priorities, waste energy for task assignment and interpretation, and disperse the work too little.

Second, good civilian guidance is obvious. It strikes a balance between particularity and universality, ensuring that recipients benefit from a wide range of principles that can facilitate decision-making and action in specific and contingent situations. Writing and publishing clear guidelines requires civil leaders to use words without multiple different meanings, and avoid using words with multiple different meanings or any vague, fancy or esoteric language phrases. Simple language, simple sentence structure, and active voices are always good habits, especially when publishing instructions designed to be understood. Good guidance should minimize the space for confusion and misunderstanding. A clear guidance document conveys the civilian's intentions in a manner that military leaders and commanders understand. To achieve this result, professional knowledge is required and military terminology needs to be adjusted to a certain extent so that the guide will not unknowingly say what it does not want to say. Clear guidance can also resolve any lingering confusion about concepts and terminology.

Clear guidance means a balance between simplicity and detail. Too few details will be blurred because it will cause ambiguity. Too much detail can cause boredom and confusion. Lowering the language level requires bureaucratic skills. As we all know, people who have worked in government departments often sacrifice simplicity to achieve coordination between organizations. With each additional author, the document becomes longer and suffers from the infamous "Christmas tree problem". Each office has attached its own favorite questions, which reduces the clarity and consistency of the document. Fighting against unnecessary high word counts is a lofty call for civilians to participate in issuing good guidance. In 2012 National Defense Strategy Guidance and 2018 National Defense Strategy both met this standard very well.

Third, good guidance is feasible. It is logically connected to the goal it pursues, and is actually feasible. This usefulness includes delineating the people who implement the guidelines (specific agencies, offices, headquarters and commanders), and clarifying when targeted actions should be taken. Therefore, in addition to the actual understanding of time limits and reasonable deadlines, those who develop guidelines must also have a deep understanding of the distribution of authority and responsibilities in relevant institutions. The particularity in the bottom-up review of 1993 represents an attempt worth mentioning, which outlines the reasons behind difficult decisions and the timing of their implementation.

Fourth, good guidance does not conflict with itself, but can also inadvertently conflict with other guidance. In other words, its formulation is based on the recognition that each new guideline lives within a wider range of guidelines, and those issuing instructions must be aware of how each guideline fits into a larger sport. If the guidance does conflict with earlier recommendations, civilians must be clear that the new guidance replaces the old one. Members of Congress often say: whether the new Congress bill violates the previous bill, including the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The Joint Staff also made it very clear in the textbook issuance that new ideas replaced old ones. For example, Joint Publication 5-0 Joint Planning emphasizes that if the guideline conflicts with other guidelines, then “the guideline in this publication is authoritative … [and] shall prevail”.

Without the use of civil guidelines and written in laws or principles, policy makers and implementers may lose track of the relationship between the old guidelines that are still in effect and the old guidelines. Civilians should take care to ensure that guidance does not place the military in a position where it must decide which request to accept.

Guided guidance

These five obstacles are just the beginning. Knowing what is a good guideline does not magically fantasize it. Moreover, although civilian guidance is opposed to military guidance, neither should be formulated in isolation. As one of us and co-author Jim Golby wrote, the policy-making process is iterative, time-consuming, and inevitably because of which side shows their cards first tension. This fact may plunge the policy-making process into a painful tautology, or let Janine Davidson call it the "chicken and egg dilemma" because the military has to wait for clear guidance before conducting strict planning , And civilians have to wait for multiple realistic and discrete choices before formulating the final guidance.

Those who participated in this dialogue will well recognize that military advice and civilian guidance are symbiotic; both parties must assume their own unique values, but neither side can develop and succeed without the other. As a result, the debate has returned to the center of military-civilian relations. Based on open and confident military-civilian relations, civilians can work with military leaders to formulate important, clear, implementable, consistent and known guidance.

However, in this relationship, civilians must assume responsible leadership. Good guidance is not a supine expression that verifies everyone's work to date. Good guidance will become a mantra. Defense Minister Bill Perry's statement of "prevent, stop, defeat" became the military's headline for addressing global security challenges in the mid-1990s. Defense Secretary Robert Gates repeated the priorities he set in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Evaluation in public speeches and private meetings until his retirement. Gates signed the follow-up guidelines formulated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, passed through the bureaucracy, and repeatedly communicated in video conferences, battlefield visits, and purchase decisions.

In addition, civilians should realize that issuing actionable guidance is not just a matter of logic and practice. Given that meaningful strategies and guidance involve the choice of bureaucrats and resource winners and losers, there is no effective and narrow argument that hinders implementation. Ensuring that the guidelines are implemented requires pressure and discomfort-often requires some old-fashioned riding skills-this is another reason why the guidelines should focus on the key rather than the pet issue. Although military professional standards provide for obedience to civilian control, civilians are ultimately responsible for monitoring compliance and punishing absconding, which is a key element of the incentive structure that makes guidance effective.

Therefore, good civilian guidance is not only a legal privilege or communication exercise; it is also a product of the unique organization and political leadership undertaken by civilians. It is built on good military-civilian relations and is improved through military and civilian expertise, and is important, clear, feasible and consistent. It's too important to be wrong. Civilians must be willing to invest their power under good civilian guidance.

Alice Hunt Friend is a visiting research professor at the Strategic Research School of the US Army War College and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Army War College, the US Army, or the Department of Defense.

Mara Karlin is the Director of Strategic Research

Picture: Ministry of Defense (Photo by Chad J. McNeeley)


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