Report Advocates Overhaul of Combatant Commands

A panel of former senior military and diplomatic officials is advocating a substantial change to the organization and focus of the military’s geographic combatant commands, arguing the current structure and function “are relics of a bygone era.” The report, issued July 22 by the Atlantic Council, calls for a much greater role for the State Department in the command structure and functioning of the six regional COCOMs in order to apply a “whole of government” approach to the nation’s international security challenges. With only the military commands empowered “to execute foreign and defense policy in key regions of the world,” the report reads, “US government regional actions often are uncoordinated and disconnected.” Led by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, a former commander of US European Command, and including three retired Air Force generals, the panel proposed to give the State Department’s regional assistant secretaries “the authority to integrate the full range of foreign and security policy as well as diplomatic resources to execute foreign policy on a regional scale.” That would include putting a senior diplomat into each COCOM headquarters. It also urged renaming the commands to “unified regional commands” to indicate a broader role “than strictly a war-fighting approach.”