防衛省改革 まずは混合組織化が現実的だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 3, 2013
Promote personnel amalgamation in Defense Ministry as 1st priority
防衛省改革 まずは混合組織化が現実的だ(9月2日付・読売社説)

It is important for civilian officials of the Defense Ministry and uniformed officers of the Self-Defense Forces to cooperate closely as an inseparable combination and build a system to support the defense minister.

The ministry has announced a plan to restructure its organization. The main change is to expand the joint deployment of civilian officials and uniformed officers to the ministry’s internal bureaus and units of the Self-Defense Forces, while abolishing the Operational Policy Bureau and integrating its functions into the Joint Staff, so as to centralize the operation of the SDF units.

Civilian bureaucrats at the ministry’s bureaus will be tasked with drawing up laws and ordinances, formulating policies and coordinating views with political parties and other government ministries, while uniformed officers will be expected to keep their military expertise current by maintaining their connections with their counterparts abroad. Naturally, it is desirable for both to give full play to their natural abilities and cooperate with each other.

Currently, personnel exchanges between the ministry’s internal bureaus and SDF units are limited. Only 32 majors or lieutenant colonels of the Air or Ground Self-Defense Forces and lieutenant commanders or commanders of the Maritime Self-Defense Force have been assigned to ministry’s internal bureaus, while five young civilian officials are working in units of the Ground Self-Defense Force.

From next fiscal year, the number of SDF officers assigned to the ministry’s internal bureaus will be increased to 56, with the number to be formally fixed, while the number of civilian officials assigned to SDF units will be increased to 22. This course of action, which is aimed at promoting the intermingling of civilian officials and uniformed officers, is reasonable.

We can also expect positive effects in the field of manpower development if civilian officials who may one day become senior ministry officials and uniformed officers who may become senior SDF officers learn about the administrative organization and the real state of the SDF units and broaden their vision.

The organizational amalgamation should be expanded, including the manpower exchange of even higher-ranking officials, in the middle and long term.

Merger may not by practical

On the other hand, it is questionable whether the idea of integrating the Operational Policy Bureau into the Joint Staff is practical.

When a major disaster occurs or when North Korea launches a ballistic missile, both cilivian officials and SDF officers gather at the central command center in the basement of the Defense Ministry building and respond promptly. In ordinary times, the Operational Policy Bureau and the Joint Staff cooperate with each other, and there is no particular problem with this.

In the operation of the SDF units, not only wise military decisions must be made but the government must make policy decisions and situation assessments, making the presence of civilian officials all the more meaningful.

For the prime minister and the defense minister to properly maintain civilian control, it is necessary to maintain those internal bureaus, which would gather information and assist the defense minister and other officials, separately from the Joint Staff.

As medium- and long-term challenges, the reorganizational plan includes the idea of integrating the procurement of defense equipment under a tentatively named “defense equipment agency.”

The ratio of the defense equipment budget allocated to the three SDF branches has remained fixed for a long time, which some have said encourages bureaucratic sectionalism.

It is important to promote an organizational restructuring that would increase the equipment budget for maritime and air defense units, which should be given a higher priority.

Any large-scale organizational reform would entail the risk of causing organizational disarray and lowering morale. Now that the ministry is beset with many important issues, including a revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines, there is little need to press the ministry’s reform plan now, which may only bring about a leadership struggle between civilian officials and SDF officers.

A realistic approach would be to first promote the integration of civilian bureaucrats and uniformed officers, and, while examining its merits and demerits, the ministry should prudently move ahead with its organizational restructuring.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 2, 2013)
(2013年9月2日01時03分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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