Pentagon Shifts Arms Control Posts

Sonia Luthra

The Department of Defense’s top policy chief Aug. 28 announced an extensive reorganization that will affect several senior Pentagon arms control and nonproliferation positions.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, who announced the reorganization, told reporters that its purpose is to reorient the policy department to better confront global terrorism. He said that the organization had been revamped to improve interagency coordination with the Department of State and the National Security Council as well as interactions with joint regional combatant commanders and countries overseas.

Under the new structure, the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy (ISP), currently Peter C. W. Flory, will be known as the assistant secretary of defense for global affairs. This new assistant secretary will have some of the same responsibilities as the predecessor position, but also some different ones.

For example, the new assistant secretary will work closely with the deputy undersecretary for technology security policy, who will report directly both to the new assistant secretary and to Edelman’s office. The deputy undersecretary will still have the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) in his or her bailiwick. DTSA handles export controls and several nonproliferation duties, in addition to working with the State Department on cooperative threat reduction (CTR) initiatives with Russia and other countries. The deputy undersecretary post has been vacant since Lisa Bronson left the Defense Department in August 2005, and Edelman said the Pentagon has yet to come up with a candidate to fill the position.

Once Bronson’s replacement is finally chosen, he or she will supervise a new deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics, counterproliferation, and global threats. In the current organization, counterproliferation falls under the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict (SOLIC). The reorganization would also place the negotiations policy office, which conducts CTR negotiations and helps represent the department in arms control negotiations, under this new deputy assistant secretary.

The reorganization would shift responsibility for overseeing nuclear policy planning and nuclear deterrence from ISP to SOLIC. Replacing the forces policy office would be a new strategic capabilities office. Edelman said the office would be responsible not only for continuing with the administration’s effort to remake the nuclear triad but also for managing efforts to develop new precision strike capabilities and moving forward with missile defenses. The shift puts the policy office in line with efforts by Gen. James Cartwright, commander of Strategic Command, to reshape the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. deterrence strategy.

Departmental changes should begin Oct. 1 and are scheduled for completion March 1, 2007.