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11 February 2012


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The defense structure may very well need revising now, but the human factor remains the most important consideration in my view. It appears that our military leadership is seriously lacking in everything but "can do sir" and this is the problem. Who will stand up and say "I don't recommend this sir because". We simply do not have military leaders that have the guts and understanding and, most importantly, the attitude to accept anything but "can do sir". we've lost it unless we can foster a serious "thinking" attitude within our military establishment. We appear to have forgotten the civil-military equation based on intelligent input - not "can do sir" but a variety of intelligent responses that might negate actions otherwise proposed.



Do I recall correctly that some attempt at restructuring was made years ago in legislation co-sponsored by Barry Goldwater? I believe that one aim was to concentrate more power in the hands of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the expense of the service chiefs. Practical consequences?



Goldwater-Nichols. Yes. That was a good fix on making the joint chain of command more effective, but it did not make any change in the underlying dynamic of the system, This is a system that rewards careerism, anti-intellectualism and conformity. Goldwater-Nichols did not fix that. It merely included a few more "stations of the cross" in the proces of becoming a general. Don't assume that all armies are led by such people. They are not. pl


Pat, I too have thought for a number of years that there is serious need for a New National Security Act. As noted the Goldwater-Nichols act fixed a host of problems, but it also created some unanticipated problems.

Some of the areas for consideration in a New National Security Act; would be the creation of Functional Services e.g. take TRANSCOM and make it the Strategic Transportation Service. Neither the USAF or the Navy value the contributions that Strategic Lift (Air and Sea) make; they are always the first sacrificed in troubled times. Another possibility would be a Unified Medical Command. One other area of consideration would be to restrict the number of four stars in the individual services to 2 the Chief/Commandant and Vice-Chief/Vice Commandant; reserve four star billets for those serving as CJCS/VCJCS; Combatant Commander or sub-unified Commander (Korea) or JTF Commander (Afghanistan). Other areas of consideration should be the organization of the Intelligence Community, and I believe a stronger prohibition on President's committing our armed forces without a Congressional declaration of war.
Would be interested in how you fix careerism?



I see that you and I have something in common. "Would be interested in how you fix careerism?" To fix that the system must be changed to make a military acareer something that rewards selfless service and the kind of character that dharacterizes people who are in some measure like Grant, Marshall, etc. I would include a marine but I don't know enough about their departed seniors. At present, shallow self centered thinking and boot-licking are rewarded. If you want to have an expectation of gnerals with character you need to foster something different. pl

William R. Cumming

The thought of an efficient and effective and honest National Security apparatus might be alarming to some including me. But a start might be to look at how pervasive is the first choice of the civilians to use DoD resources and the Armed Forces, whether in peace or war.

And who exactly spent the almost $2B on the US Embassy infrastructure in Iraq? A billion here and a billion there and soon you are talking real money?



"The thought of an efficient and effective and honest National Security apparatus might be alarming to some including me" I am sorry that you have such a low opinion of American soldiers. pl


DR. Silverman may wish to comment, but I believe we have a choice of evils in dealing with Careerism/Narcisism because the the criteria for determining "character" for command are ultimately subjective - and thus open to bias and error compared with the more rigid performance metrics of formal achievements, ratings and qualifications, not that a backside licker cannot fudge some of these as well. This by the way is also a corporate issue of importance.

There is no test for character and empathy, and if there was, I suspect a smart narcissist would learn to masquerade well enough to pass. Assessment by subordinates and peers over a considerable amount of time and in a variety of situations is about the only way to do it in my opinion, but that may be impractical. The common soldier would know if his boss is a creep, but once leadership becomes a popularity contest with the lower ranks, we introduce other evils.

How did the German Officer corps do it before the process was almost totally corrupted by Hitler? I believe I read something about a requirement for staff officers to consider the honest feedback from junior officers/commanders being a requirement in operational planning before Keitel.

We really need the Bene Gesserit sisters and the Gom Jabbar.

Adam L Silverman


I'm not sure either why you would want me to comment or what you would want me to comment on (not that that's ever stopped me...)

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

Let me pose real basic questions that, I think, ought to be answered first:

- What are our national interests?

- What are the threats to our national interests?

- In defending our national interests, are the instruments of diplomacy, information, military and economics (DIME) still valid?

- Do we need armed forces?

- What do we expect our armed forces to do?

- And finally, how should we configure our armed forces to defend this nation and its interests?

Brother Patrick has said often that SST is a committee of correspondence, so have at it, corresponders. What do you all think?

William R. Cumming

Mike Martin! Interesting that you ask such important questions and few in positions of leadership in USA will to provide answers! To be fair it is a complex world and the future of the USA is not something that should be argued IMO is a given!

William R. Cumming

I notice the Admiral heading SOC is asking for more freedom to manuver his forces. Is this a chain of command issue or something else?

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

Thank you kindly, WRC! Many of the questions I posted above have the potential to constipate the discussion here at SST, so let's just keep them in mind and move forward w/ the discussion of what our 21st century DoD should look like.

Townie76's comments from yesterday morning are (IMO) worthy of further discussion. My background's in tac airlift and contingency planning, and T76's remarks about morphing TRANSCOM into a service struck a chord. That opens the whole question of departments, services and unified commands.

There was a proposal for a "MEDCOM" a few years ago, but my own Air Force's service parochialism killed that. Probably past time to try again. How is an Army finger wave different from an Air Force finger wave?

The whole intel community seems, to me, to be as organized as a bowl of spaghetti. Too many stars running too many three letter agencies, all hating each other to the detriment of the USG. IIRC, the Dir, CIA was also the Director of Central Intelligence who had authority to at least coordinate the efforts of DoS's I&R shop as well as NSA, DIA, et al. What purpose does the DNI serve, or should I say, where did the old DCI role fall short?



"What purpose does the DNI serve, or should I say, where did the old DCI role fall short?"

Once again, the CIA used their director's second hat as DCI to screw the rest of the IC. Get it now? This really, really skewed strategic analysis in the NIC (NIEs) becasue CIA had institutional interests of its own in the outcomes of these NIEs.

They also screwed up development of HUMINT against miltary human targets, because soldiers don't want to be run by civilians. Get it? pl



You seem to think that "chain of command" means never having to have an opinion. Wrong. pl

William R. Cumming

PL! Truth to power requires great courage, IMO.

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

Got it, Pat, thanks. New question, though: has the DNI made a difference? There was much talk when the DNI came into existence about lack of real authority, no budget, etc.



I guess you missed all the discussion of this here and rely on CIA propaganda for your information. Under Clapper the quality of US Intelligence work has risen markedly in spite of CIA BS to the contrary and Israeli attacks designed to bend US policy to their will by undermining the USIC (the hand that feeds them). pl



You are talking about the JSOC commander? Nah! He's is just part of the discussion on rules. pl

The Twisted Genius

Mike Martin,

Not only is the DNI making a difference in leveling the playing field among the various intelligence agencies, but defense intelligence has undergone massive changes over the last fifteen or so years. Just google "defense intelligence enterprise" for an idea of what has happened. Even though I consider the proliferation of offices and the associated executive positions within the headquarters to be a malignancy, the changes have been for the better.

Along with the defense intelligence consolidation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence became a more muscular advocate for defense intelligence. This is one area of the defense structure that is moving in the right direction.

P.S. - I'm glad I missed the religious wars

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