OMAHA, Neb. — The lives of officers at U.S. Strategic Command sound remarkably similar to those of traveling salesmen.
“We engage the combatant commanders,” said Army Col. Christopher Fulton, chief of staff for global strike integration. “We travel to them. We visit them. We try to make them smarter about what Stratcom brings.”
Five years after Stratcom began its reorganization, Fulton said the command has only been “partially successful” in selling itself to the other services and joint commands.
“There is a level of education out there that is very low on what the new Stratcom mission set has,” he said.
For commanders in the field, “it’s about turf,” he said.
Stratcom reinvented itself under its former commander, Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, and took eight missions into its fold. Some of the eight components are more established in the defense community than others. Five have been designated joint functional component commands (JFCCs).
The eight missions are: global strike and integration; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; information operations; space; integrated missile defense; network warfare; global network operations; and combating weapons of mass destruction.
Cartwright, who recently was named as vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, envisioned a command that provides services to field commanders. When they need space-based sensors trained on an area of operations, for example, they pick up the phone and call JFCC-Space.
Cartwright has said that the JFCCs would have a tough selling job. Now that will be left up to the new leader, Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, who was confirmed by the Senate in September.
Air Force Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Stratcom’s deputy commander, who will also be leaving his post, said they are wrapping up the process of “operationalizing the command,” which involves “mundane” tasks such as ironing out concepts of operation, putting in place procedures so filed units can make requests, and filling manpower billets.
“We are still in the process of moving people into jobs,” he said. JFCC-Space still has not filled all its positions because it was one of the last components to be organized, he added.
“We are a supporting command. We are rarely supported,” he noted.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash, director of combat and information operations, said combatant commanders are currently “using Stratcom probably more than they realize.”
And with some of the new mission areas such as information operations and combating WMD, “they’re lining up at the door,” he added. “It’s all starting to kind of make sense that someone ought to have the lead in this.”
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