Jeffrey LewisOSD Policy Reorg

Cross posted at

So, imagine you are the Rumsfeld Defense Department. You are locked in a “global struggle against violent extremists” “stretching from Indonesia through the Middle East,”. You have 150,000 troops stationed in Iraq as the central front in said struggle. The United States is facing major foreign policy crises in Iran and Lebanon, either of which might involve your beloved Pentagon.

You decide to elevate one Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with regional responsibilities to become a full Assistant Secretary over a region. This is an easy call. You pick: Asia-Pacific.

Oh, sure, sure, you have no exit strategy for Iraq and you are sizing up air defenses around Tehran, but c’mon … real men hate on China.

Of course, focusing on China … er the Pacific … was the plan, from the first Defense Strategy Review by Andy Marshall which reportedly “cast the Pacific as the most important region for military planners…” I kind of admire the sticktuitiveness of the whole thing, 9/11 and Iraq be damned.

You almost wonder why they didn’t have the stones to pin the 9/11 attack on Jiang Zemin. After all, their friends did.

I’ve posted the new organization at the top of this post. USD Eric Edelman explained the issue as one of matching up to State and NSC:

The secretary sensed that we were misaligned in some ways … and we wanted to make it easier for Policy and the (combatant commands) to figure out what the right address was (in the other agencies) to go forward solving problems. I think this will make it a little easier to operate interagency.

Now, when I was at Policy—oh so briefly—the fact that the State Department Bureaus were headed by Assistant Secretaries, one level higher than the equivalent DOD offices, was kind of irritating.

And maybe I am being too cynical. As an “Asia expert”—whatever that means—I am psyched to see my region getting attention. And, were I ever lucky enough to hold that office at OSD, I’d appreciate the extra step to full Assistant Secretary.

But, really, wouldn’t a single “Assistant Secretary for South West and Central Asia” with DASD’s for the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia better protect the country’s interests?


  1. Robot Economist (History)

    As a young “Asia expert” working for the DoD, I also have mixed feelings about this reorganization. Sure, it opens up more employment and promotion opportunities and increases our visibility to policymakers. It does so at the cost of working for Rumsfeld though, which means we will have to contend with Sinophobia.

    If the reorganization lasts past 2008, Asia experts will be golden.

  2. Amyfw (History)

    Its too early in the morning, and I must be missing something. What happens to the ISP folks, forces policy, nuclear weapons, etc? Are they now under SOLIC??? Where are the Russia policy folks (they never were under ISA before), and the arms control policy and cooperative threat reduction policy folks? I spent a year in OSD Policy, too, I know a lot of people who are still there. They don’t fit into any of this! I must be missing something.

  3. Rodger (History)

    This is slightly off-topic, but should I be concenned about my consistent failure to reach the website you linked? I’ve been trying to access Rumsfeld’s speech for 3 days—at home, at work, on the laptop.

    I get “could not be found.”

    Is it down, which might reflect some kind of internet attack (DNS?), or am I being blocked?

    Presumably, since you linked the site, you can get through…

    Thanks for any insight.

  4. Muskrat (History)

    I bet anyone who still advocates arms control falls under “detainee affairs,” and not as a guard…

  5. SM

    OSD Policy traditionally was an organizational nightmare, slapped together almost as if at random. However, I think it had achieved some level of coherence under Rumsfeld actually – though it always baffled me that the Europe/Eurasia shops were placed with the functional offices and not with the other regional offices in ISA. This new structure reverts back to the utter slapdash model in my opinion… Amyfw: I was also baffled at the apparent placement of Forces Policy under SO/LIC, something that makes no sense whatsoever organizationally. It looks to me like Russia policy will actually fall under the new ASD – in the Central Asia shop! (cue eye rolling – despite everything, we still luuuuuuv Central Asia and hate Russia. What a farce.) I presume it would not go to Europe/NATO. CTR will probably go to one of the offices under this new ASD/Global Security Affairs. The arms control offices do seem to have disappeared – that’s okay really in my opinion. Their only reason for existence seemed to be to block the policy process.