As the House and Senate begin the process to reconcile vastly different defense policy bills, House Armed Services Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., hinted that he is weighing support for Senate language that would downsize the military command structure and require the secretary of defense to create nimbler organizations.
This is one of many provisions in the Senate
version of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that seek to
overhaul the Pentagon’s civilian and military organizations. These reforms have
long been advocated by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., as part of a broader effort to rewrite the 1986
McCain has pressed the case that current
geography-based organizations are too rigid to respond to opportunist enemies
like the Islamic State.
During a breakfast meeting with reporters July
6, Smith insisted that he has not yet made up his mind on whether he will
support the Senate language on this matter, but suggested he would be inclined
to back measures that flatten the military bureaucracy and give commanders more
flexibility to respond to threats.
“I am intrigued by the possibility of
going in this direction,” Smith said.
The White House firmly opposes the
Senate language on grounds that it micromanages the military and creates
Smith said he would weigh the objections raised
by the Obama administration as the NDAA conference moves along. This is far from
a “yes” or “no” answer, he said. “Does McCain have the exact right formula? Is
the White House completely wrong in the criticism? No and no. But I think we
have to move in that direction.”
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