Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New additions to the Defense Policy Board (UPDATED)

Via SWJ: Secretary Gates today announced several new additions to the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. They include:
Gen. (Ret) Larry Welch, former Air Force chief of staff ; Stephen Biddle, Council on Foreign Relations; Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy; Robert Gallucci, former assistant secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, former senator from Nebraska; Robert D. Kaplan, Center for a New American Security; Andrew Krepinevich, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Rudy deLeon, former deputy secretary of defense; John Nagl, Center for a New American Security; Sarah Sewall, Harvard University; Wendy Sherman, former special advisor to the President.
It's hard to miss the fact that a lot of these people are associated with CNAS, and there's a fairly heavy dose of COIN-centrism. Nagl is the president of CNAS and was on the writing team for FM 3-24; Danzig's on the board; Kaplan is a senior fellow; Sewall wrote the introduction to the popular University of Chicago edition of the COIN field manual; Krepinevich is a vocal advocate of a bifurcated ground force, with one part dedicated to high-intensity conventional conflict and the other to stability operations and advising; Biddle provides the COIN expertise at CFR; Sherman doesn't seem to have any official links to CNAS but recently moderated a panel at their conference (and her boss, Madeleine Albright, is on the board); etc etc etc.

We've already seen Michelle Flournoy end up as USD(P), Kurt Campbell was recently confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Colin Kahl, Vikram Singh, Shawn Brimley... When you see something like this, it's hard to deny the claims that CNAS is becoming Washington's "'it' think-tank." Or, as Spencer Ackerman calls it, "Obama's shadow Pentagon."

The DPB, according to its charter, "serve[s] the public interest by providing the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary, and Under Secretary for Policy with independent, informed advice and opinion concerning major matters of defense policy. It will focus upon long-term, enduring issues central to strategic planning for the Department of Defense and will be responsible for research and analysis of topics, long or short range, addressed to it" by the Department's top three.

I, for one, am happy to see Krepinevich, Nagl, and Biddle (among others) playing a part in that conversation.

(For what it's worth, I just noticed that the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments -- of which Krepinevich is the president -- has had this on their website since June 16. Not sure what that's all about.)
UPDATE: CNAS just sent out a press release congratulating Nagl and Kaplan. We also learn that Sherman and Sewall are members of the CNAS Advisory Board (as opposed to the Board of Directors, on which Danzig serves).

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