The concept of authority refers to the power to undertake some actions and a power to permit others to do something. At the national level, the disregard or misunderstanding of authorities could undermine the legitimacy of military actions. Hence, strict adherence to the higher authorities is a means to achieve legitimacy. This, in turn, guarantees support for military operations at domestic and international levels. There are four types of authorities: policy authority, statutory authority, budgetary authority, and execute authority. The current essay discusses the most significant differences between them.
First of all, it is necessary to define all types of authorities. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is granted policy authority to control the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). For instance, as it is stated in the enclosure E of CJCSI 3110.05F, the preapproved MISO program gave combatant commanders “the policy authority to conduct MISO in support of maritime interdiction operations, including VBSS operations” (CJCSI 3110.05F 2017, E-1). The authority to initiate the military operations approved by the President or the Secretary of Defense is called an execute one. Both policy and execution authorities are derived from the executive branch. If the executive order (EXORD) includes all the details on the MISO Program, then the EXORD represents the policy and execute authorities simultaneously because it does not require elaborating an overarching program.
To some extent, statutory authority resembles execute authority because both deal with the conduction of military operations and missions. The difference is that statutory authority implies that Commanders are permitted to conduct military missions assigned to them, not initiate military actions. The statutory authority of the Department of Defense is ensured by the U.S. Code. Budgetary authority is connected to the financial issues of the country. Therefore, budgetary authority implies permission to be engaged in operations that require the spending of MISO money. Statutory and budgetary authorities are derived from the legislative branch.
To conclude, the critical differences between the four types of authorities lie in the fact that they are derived from the different branches of power (either executive or legislative) and permit different kinds of actions. Policy authority is about control over the MISO; executive authority is about the permission to initiate military operations. Statutory authority refers to the duties assigned to the Commanders or other officials by the law. Budgetary authority is the authority to manage the fiscal money, the MISO’s money, in our case.
CJCSI 3110.05F. Enclosures A-E. Military Information Support Operations Supplement to the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. 2017.