USSOCOM and USSTRATCOM as Synchronizers

The reorganization that made the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) synchronizers and supported commands for the global war on terror (GWOT) and combating weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) missions, respectively, has advantages and disadvantages. Tension between functionally and regionally structured organizations has been a long standing issue. For the unified commands, a better model may have been developed by applying some fresher perspectives taken from organization theory and modern global business practices. Particularly important is a dynamic and networked structure that utilizes information technology to help knit the entire enterprise together.

For example, the current model assumes a single synchronizer is needed to centralize and synchronize a mission or function such as GWOT. However, it may have been better to give the geographic combatant commanders dual-hats for executing this mission and make them mutually responsible for executing global GWOT operations with the functional commands supporting them. This way, the authorities are there for mutual responsibility and accountability, and action to degrade the network as a cohesive network. If operating off the same information networks, the planners, analysts and operators across the commands and organizations could self-synchronize at the global network level. But this would require these teams to all be operating off the same picture and interlinking and integrating their information with the same same networks and tools. Additional simple tools such as blogs, wikis, and tags could go a long way toward knitting the unified commands together.

This does not mean, however, that USSOCOM would not take a lead role in synchronizing the GWOT. In reality, the supported-supporting model needs to be abandoned in its current form and, instead, needs to imitate many-to-many and joint relationships that better reflect reality. Nevertheless, the real question is how do we enable the entire national security apparatus – the interagency – to rapidly and effectively integrate and synchronize their activity. In the future, it may be wise to consider creating interagency constructs which are networked and that can integrate, synchronize, and task across all organizational lines at the strategic-operational level.

For now, it may be prudent to begin taking a closer look at the current relationship structure of the commands. In doing so we should abandon old organizational assumptions and enable the development of a flexible enterprise fit for today’s age by applying new forms of interorganizational linkages and collaboration tools. Obviously, other elements will need to be addressed beyond structure such as technology, culture and performance.


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