Revisiting the Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces


In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Robert Martinage argues that the roles and missions of the Armed Forces need to be realigned to better address U.S. national security challenges and preserve U.S. military superiority in the decades ahead. His remarks focus on three broad areas for change: the possible creation of new Services for space, cyber, and special operations; the need for increased Service specialization; and the concept of “competitive jointness,” meaning encouraging healthy intra- and inter-Service rivalry to foster innovation.

It may well be time to establish new independent Services for space and cyber operations, as well as to elevate SOCOM to a full-fledged Service. Given flat or declining resources for defense and threat trends shaping the future security environment, being a “jack of all trades, but master of none” appears to be an increasingly problematic proposition. Accordingly, increased Service specialization in selected areas should be given serious consideration. Finally, intra- and inter-Service competition should be strongly encouraged as a means of fostering innovation. To do so, many of the Service mission monopolies that have hardened since 1948 will need to be broken and many of the collateral missions that have been ignored or under-invested in to date will need to be elevated in importance.

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Watch the tesimony of Robert Martinage before the Senate Armed Services Committee.