So, it looks like Carter will be nominated to be SECDEF. The Obamanites would have preferred Flournoy as part of their effort to achieve a grand-slam in the field of "Hope and Change" but the lady decided she was "not for burning." Smart.
Carter is filled with wonderfulness as an academic prodigy, physicist, budgeteer, procurer (in a nice way), etc., but he "don't know s--t from Shinola" about actual war or foreign policy. That last was a quote from one of my old NCO friends.
The industrial part of the fabled military-industrial complex is said to be rejoicing about the prospect of this man handing out contracts. Yes, I am sure it is.
IMO, the prospect of Carter as SECDEF means that McCain is right when he says that Carter simply will not be a player in strategic decision making. That, in turn means that Dempsey's role as chief strategist at the Pentagon will grow to be even larger.
CJCS is not in the chain of command under Goldwater-Nichols but in this situation that seems irrelevant. I think it unlikely that General Austen (CENTCOM) would choose to get crosswise with Dempsey on anything important.
IMO the struggle between the JCS and the Girls Club at the WH will continue with Dempsey being the chief protagonist on the DoD side of the conflict.
There are all kinds of serious matters to be dealt with in the next two years. Presumably the money fight will be ably led by SECDEF. This is the kind of thing that he is well qualified to do, but there are real wars to fight:
- What exactly is the situation south of Damascus in the area that "b" keeps pointing at?
- Kirby, the DoD press person, says that there is no "coordination" with Iranian forces in Iraq. When pressed by Blitzer he says that the Iraqi government is "deconflicting" air operations in their air space. That is a form of "coordination." One can only hope that the Americans in Iraq are helping Abadi's government "deconflict" operations in the air and on the ground. Something honest needs to be done about coordination with the Iranians. IMO Kirby should be sent to the Hill to work with McCain and his office wife.
- Ditto with regard to the Syrian armed forces.
- The US is trying to re-build a small, quality driven force for the Iraqi government. This is what Scales calls the "nine-brigade gamble." The declared intention is to re-take Anbar and Mosul with this force with the Pesh Merga included for the Mosul operation. These projected operations will determine the fate of Iraq as a federated state. Someone will have to decide when the "gamble" force is actually ready.
- The FSA unicorn army is a fantasyland fiction. Kirby admitted yesterday that neither vetting nor training have begun. Someone will eventually have to confront the WH with that truth.
- Some sub-set of lunatics in NATO continues to drive the alliance towards war with Russia. This probably seems a great idea in bull sessions at State and the NSC staff. "We'll show'em!!" This is just crazy. There cannot be war between NATO and Russia. Such a war would be uncontainable and would inevitably escalate to a nuclear confrontation.
Issues like these will result in increasing tensions between Dempsey and the Obama Administration.
"The Chairman serves a two-year term of office at the pleasure of the President." That means Obama (Rice) can fire him whenever they wish. OTOH, in the context of the AUMF, Dempsey can be appointed to a third term. Which will it be? pl