ASU board of active duty and retired generals and admirals argues for changes in National Security Council
WASHINGTON — Former Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, an Arizona State University alumna, led the initial air campaign when the United States intervened in Libya in 2011. She also watched later as that country deteriorated into chaos.
The problem, she said: No clear national strategy.
"We took the tactical tasks that we were given and we asked for more strategic guidance but that wasn't really forthcoming," Woodward said Thursday. "In the absence of that, the military will always fill in the gap. So we did what we needed to do."
Woodward and fellow members of ASU’s Flag Officer Advisory Council propose modernizing the National Security Act of 1947 to shift the nation away from turning to the military to solve all crises, a proposal they highlighted at Thursday’s Future of War Conference, in Washington, D.C., organized by ASU and New America.
The council urges reforming the National Security Council, situated in the executive branch, and empowering it to act as a quarterback would organize the muscle of a $4 trillion government, an army of nonprofits, the brainpower of universities, the engine of the private sector and networks of state and local governments that are now left untapped or underutilized in crises. The National Security Council needs the authority to weave in organizations to create a strategic, whole-of-government approach to help the nation better deal with future challenges, such as Libya, the council argues.
The Flag Officer Advisory Council, consisting of active duty and retired generals and admirals from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, advises ASU President Michal Crow on national issues. They captured their concept in a proposal released Thursday.
They call for exercising three key concepts: strategic vision, whole-of-government solutions and whole-of-society solutions.
“In our paper we are calling for a return to strategic vision and getting back to articulating strategic end states by the National Command Authority,” said former Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, special advisor for leadership initiatives to the ASU president and Flag Officer Advisory Council member. “We need to drive our country back to thinking about strategic vision and develop from our society strategic thinkers.”
An example of building strategic thinkers is ASU’s newly established Public Service Academy, where students learn cross-sector skills and are exposed to the possibilities of careers in public service, he said.
The U.S. has great diplomatic, military, informational and economic capabilities, said Freakley. But to be effective in solving the nation’s toughest challenges, these functions must be coordinated.
“You could argue, that since Operations Desert Shield, Desert StormOperation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm were two phases of what is commonly called the Gulf War, in 1990 and 1991. The first laid the groundwork for military operations to oust the forces of then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The second was the combat phase itself. , we have not used all elements of our power in a coherent fashion to achieve a strategy,” said Freakley, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006. “We have not kept political pressure, or economic pressure, or even informational pressure on our adversaries.”