When is a “food fight” better described as using the dialect to develop policy?
Spencer Hsu’s “Pentagon, DHS Divided On Military’s Role at Border” outlines some legitimate policy differences between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security over the military’s role in domestic security.
The debate goes to the heart of the military’s role, which has expanded since the 2001 terrorist attacks, with an increasing commitment of troops and resources to homeland defense, particularly to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe. The deployment of new troops to the [US - Mexican] border [to help counter narcotics efforts] would represent a mission the military has not traditionally embraced.
Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership is quoted briefly in the article:
“What we’re seeing … here is a move toward reframing where defense begins and ends…. Traditionally the military looks outward, but looking outward has begun a lot closer to home, and it may involve looking just across the border.”
Last October, Bert wrote a substantive strategic analysis of this topic: “New Requirements for a New Challenge: The Military’s Role in Border Security.” The article is available here, and is worth reading if this is a homeland security-related issue you follow.
From a process perspective, Hsu’s article provides an example of the role metaleadership plays (at least implicitly) in the way the Obama administration treats wicked problems:
A senior White House national security official said the president is comfortable with the disagreement and “wants to see the kind of creative tension and full-out debate that major policy decisions engender.” The official added, “It’s the president’s view that . . . frankly, that kind of debate among two Cabinet officers like Secretary Gates and Secretary Napolitano, both of whom he holds in high regard, will inevitably lead to a better policy.”
Tossed the right way, food fights can nourish.