Foreign Policy quotes VP and Brent Scowcroft Center Director Barry Pavel on the Pentagon’s top five “forgotten missions”:
The decline in the Defense Department’s budget makes it even more important for officials in Washington to routinely review the department’s ongoing missions, said Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
“These shouldn’t be forgotten. When a higher priority pops up, it should not be off the table that we pull out of something and we hand it off to a regional ally or another partner,” he said.
Following the disastrous Battle of Mogadishu, also known as “Black Hawk Down,” in 1993, the Pentagon rethought how to manage smaller missions, deciding to name them small-scale contingencies.
Mogadishu taught the United States that its military and political leadership must ensure that all the relevant tracks of an operation — humanitarian, diplomatic, and military — are integrated and in sync, Pavel said.
In Somalia “those got out of whack because no one was watching them on a day-to-day basis,” he added.
Pavel said the sheer number of these missions today reveals a United States that is reacting to events rather than getting out ahead of them.
“I think the lack of strategy is contributing to this phenomenon,” Pavel said. “The world’s a little less certain right now, and without a strategy to help policymakers make sense of what’s going on in the world, we’re going to be reactive.”