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29 April 2016


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Col: To paraphrase Churchill, the Senate is the worst of all institutions, except all the others.

Do we hear an echo of Gaius Marius? The addition of the new Provinces to the Roman Republic made the "new men" question the wisdom of the Roman Senate.


Perhaps the defense budget is too big?

Since the power and majesty of the American armed forces is truly world dominating, one might expect that the people who lead this mighty machine tend to believe that they likewise are awe inspiring. Thus, they will react poorly when politicians fail to bow to their wishes.

If those leaders had to truly compete with other government institutions for the limited resources available, maybe they would have a better idea of who is in charge.


More and more, I am sensing among the actives that the military should be independent of political control. Your comment about "obstacles to the execution of the commander in chief's plans" reeks of the Praetorians.

Granted, my contact is among the lower ranks, mostly non-coms, but the feeling is not going away, just getting stronger. When I speak with the lower officer ranks, the impression only gets stronger.

I find it worrisome.


Gaius Marius



When I first left active duty my Representative in Congress was Sam Gibbons. I don’t think he would have thought much of McRaven’s contemptuous comments regarding the elected members of the Senate, but then he was only a former major who had all his combat jumps into Europe. Maybe McRaven can get off his own ass and run for office and see what his fellow citizens think about his leadership. BTW isn't Tampa home of the Patreaus mistress scandal? I'm surprised Hollywood hasn't made a soap opera about "how the SOCOM turns."

From the WAPO:
“McRaven’s description of Losey as an innocent victim is at odds with the findings of the Defense Department’s inspector general, which concluded that he had repeatedly violated whistleblower-protection laws.”

If he were an E-8 rather than an O-8 he’d be in prison and not employed as a Chancellor of the Texas University System. McRaven hasn't said anything about the DOD leadership. One has to ask why he choose to blame elected Senators rather than Obama appointed Sec Defs. That sure speaks volumes.


Colonel: At what point does this stop? If you have general officers who are insubordinate to civilian senators how far are you from officers who decide to ignore or disobey their civilian commander in chief?

The more I see of all volunteer armies the more I think that our decision in Denmark a few years ago to abolish the draft was a catastrophic mistake - we should instead be going for something like the German army where they're very much citizen soldiers and not the US/UK one.


We used to have the draft. The officer corps was no different then. Admirals and generals are necessarily chosen from the professional officer corps however the enlisted men are recruited. This has nothing to do with the draft and everything with letting generals and other officers believe that they are somehow chosen on the basis of intrinsic merit rather than at the convenience of the government. pl



The praetorians were a palace guard. What you need worry about are the legions. pl

John Minnerath

More and more senior officers need to be reminded that they do "serve" at the convenience of the Government and that it continues to apply after they have entered the retired list.


McRaven currently heads the University of Texas system of colleges and universities. I have heard him speak on a couple of occasions as he is active in promoting an already extensive program of sponsoring events here in Austin that feature prominent Pentagon and Intelligence officials. AOnthe last such occasion, he gave an extensive address on the country's national security challenges.

McRaven is intelligent, earnest and sane. He does, though, hold some dubious views as evinced by the incident noted here. The man sees the world as an endless source of threats - all of which should be dealt with by military actions: defensive, preemptive and preventive. His style is autocrat: this obviously is what should be done; let's do it. This philosophy was articulated in his aggressive campaign, while head of US Special Operations Command, for having His special forces petty much supplant the State Department, the CIA, and just about everybody else in conducting America's foreign relations. His speech here made to reference to the President, to Congress, or to the public.

He occasionally still wears his uniform which registers 24 on the open-ended Petraeus ribbon scale

Keith Harbaugh

I know the military/civilian relation was covered in Army ROTC when I took it in the 1960s.
Although I never advanced beyond O-3, I always assumed that military/civilian relations would be a key subject in the military war colleges.
Are they or are they not?
Further, now there is the CAPSTONE program for new O-7s:
Not covered there?
So my question is:
Is this subject not covered in those finishing schools,
or is it covered and are some flag officers just ignoring what they were taught?


Keith Harbaugh

I am an Army War College graduate in the resident course. I don't remember any material being taught there on civil-military relations, the expectation being that you should know that by then. pl


"Soldier and the State" by Samuel Huntington. Perhaps I will send Gen. McRaven my copy.


Thank you Col.

There's some opinion that after their experience with Rickover the boys in the admirals club didn't let very many bright ones make flag. McRaven may be an example.


mbrenner: It was not always so. See http://a3.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fit,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,h_1200,q_80,w_1200/MTE4MDAzNDEwNjE5NjMxMTE4.jpg


When Rear Admiral Losley, was sent to Germany:



And the take from a Navy Blog:


William R. Cumming

The SOLDIER AND THE STATE originally published 1957. The 2009 book entitled AMERICAN CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS is a useful supplement to the Huntington text. The complexity of the military/civil interface alone today is one source of misunderstandings and having participated in high level exercises with both civil agencies and DoD organizations and the Armed Forces and real world events I can attest this entire arena needs comprehensive and competent study. Add in nuclear weapons surety and safeguards, employment and other concerns including technological changes and new chasms in military/civil knowledge loom.

One new concern of mine is that mine is that the Uniformed Military culture and chain of command often violated by untutored personnel under the Chief Executive. And most of the Presidential biographies demonstrate almost complete misunderstanding of this crucial relationship for any democracy [Republic].


How does the fact that the last time the US Congress Declared War was in 1941, giving up that power to the Executive, influence McRaven’s attitude toward the Republic in general, and the Congress, in particular?

Maybe in this political season a message for The Donald or HRC. My loyalty will be to you.



IMO the kind of people I wrote of have no interest in such things as declarations of war. pl


What has been the purpose of the ME wars? Defense of the homeland? It seems that the boots on the ground in Syria are for one and only one purpose: to secure the Golan Height for Israel: https://theintercept.com/2016/04/29/as-more-american-boots-hit-the-ground-in-syria-u-s-parses-boots-and-ground/?comments=1#comments



Your comment is completely OT. I would not have posted it if it did not give the chance to caution you about it. pl

Green Zone Café

If there is ever a coup d'etat in the USA, the leader will be the commander of SOCOM, not CJCS. That said, there is too much political witch hunting. I mean witches in Congress hunting officers. Tailhook was a big example.


"Masterful in Managing Upwards" is the quote by the supposed whistleblower who was not the culprit, this man was wronged but still gave a glowing statement regarding the accuser. Obviously Admiral Losey was/is a fine officer with a stellar career but with a critical flaw. He was poor at managing civilians probably a very similar flaw within the Military Senior Officers. Seems none of his superiors helped him in resolving that problem as it is correctable once someone shines a light on it.
What is it with these people as they rise to the top in the military can't they just keep their mouths shut and move on. We know what you did for us and we Thank You but don't make an idiot of yourself.
Hopefully Admiral McRaven reflects on this situation and recognizes he could of bettered Admiral Losey who we wish the best in his new endeavors.



I do not agree. IMO there should be even closer congressional oversight of flag officers and any sign of caesarism should be cause for retirement. pl

scott s.

I knew many good officers who were derailed simply for the "sin" of being at TH convention for any period. There was no attempt to determine blame or conduct, just a blanket condemnation. And I say that as a former "black shoe" who has no particular love for AV8Rs (as we used to say "I have no problem with them getting flight pay, what I don't understand is why they get base pay?").

IIRC "Soldier and the State" advances the view of the officer as the technical professional who just carries out the orders of civilians. But I think if you study history, the reality is more that senior officers are always political.

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