There’s a new acronym that has taken hold across the Department of Defense over the last two years or so: TMM. It stands for trans-regional, multi-functional, and multi-domain; and, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, has made it a core element of the Joint Staff’s work. According to Dunford, the department’s “current planning and organizational construct” is flawed, impeding the secretary of defense’s ability to make decisions. To fight and win 21st century wars, the department should find a way to globally integrate below the secretary of defense. But to do so, the chairman’s role needs to evolve considerably. As Dunford explained to the Senate Armed Service Committee a few months ago, the chairman needs “limited authority for the worldwide reallocation of a limited number of military assets … on a short-term basis.” This authority builds on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that allows the chairman to advise the secretary on the allocation and transfer of forces for transregional, multi-functional and multi-domain operations. So, are these arcane developments of interest to a few pentagon staffers, or are they indicative of something more fundamental happening?
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