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I was standing in the Al Faw palace in 2005 with a group of Marine Officers, including Col Gerganus. Along comes General Casey (USA). Casey busts through the crowd and gives Gerganus a long embrace. Another Marine turns to me and says " we've just witnessed the equivalent of becoming a made-man in the mafia". He was right.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@YankeePapa How did the Soviets man their cyber force? Can enlisted fly UAVs & helicopters, air traffic controllers, etc? There are many non-command positions currently filled by officers that could be filled by Marines in the future, particularly as the quality of enlisted Marine continues to improve.
No, the point man is mid 20s with 5 years of experience. For the new missions being discussed,the Marine Corps needs to have a more mature force. All Marines start out in a support unit and then compete for a spot in the infantry. How may E-1 SEALs, SF, Rangers do you know? Are you going to send out 3 E-1s and a salty Lance Corporal to work in the interagency? What if rank and compensation were decoupled - think about major league baseball works - players work there way up through different levels of units.
So in 2025 you expect no changes in the Marine Corps?
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Over at the Marine Corps Gazette Blog, The Enlisted Marine of 2025 is considered. 5 questions are asked:
What if… the line between Marine officers and enlisted Marines is erased or significantly blurred?
What if… the 18 year-old private becomes obsolete in infantry units?
What if… semi-autonomous unmanned weapon systems become fully integrated into small units?
What if… the lethality and non-lethality of a small unit increases significantly?
What if… genetic or performance enhancing technology become accepted on the modern battlefield?
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Perhaps the billet has been around for years but is it necessary today? Does it need to be filled by an SES? Does it pass Hagel criterion #1 - "Does this help protect national security?" What value does this position add at OSD when the function is already being done within the MILDEPs? To generate more work and complie input?
With the ubiquity of online services and the push for simplification in government could this be one of those "missions" DoD can do without? I'll wager a military service member has the capacity to log onto a website and get voting material sent to him/her if they are inclined to vote. This type of position made sense prior to automation (and probably run by a GS-12).
My point is that despite talk of hiring freezes, furloughs and now RIFs, OSD has never stopped filling these tenuous positions. Congress may have an interest in these types of programs but they don't do the hiring.
Wait - disregard my last... I need to upgrade my car and lower my handicap - I am going to apply for the position today!!!
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy
Gordon - business as usual in the Pentagon.
Instead of feeling any pain from sequestration, OSD is growing its staff. If you look at USAJOBS OSD is hiring for a new SES position for "Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program" will probably have a staff of 10 feds and 20 contractors... OSD has not stopped hiring. Meanwhile the navy is decommissioning ships and Marines and soldiers are being sent home. Reform needs to start at the top...
Mr. Adams is very right regarding the non-deploying military personnel or "Bureaucrats in uniform" as he has called them - costing the taxpayer $56B/Y (FY-10$).
A simple policy change can alleviate this problem - define inherently military functions similar to inherently govenmental.
4 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Sheathed Sword
@Butch Bracknell Speaking of metrics, it would be interesting to determine if Capt R or any of her peers sitting on the fence or that have already taken their packs off, have noticed a significant difference in Company Grade morale (my regimental CO had a sign behind his desk stating that Company Grades don't have morale so don't worry about it) between I MEF and II MEF? And if so, has it affected their decision to stay or go?
I served with both MEFs in OIF and there was a noticeable difference between the two commands. Senior leadership from II MEF were a miserable lot - the more self-imposed misery the better. I completely understand why anyone would want to get out after a tour with them. On the other hand, I found the I MEF staff full of free thinkers, who were focused more on the mission and less on the BS.
Could the environment play a role in this difference? Camp Lejeune is fairly isolated and surrounded by swamps. It has been at the top of the lists of military suicides, DUIs, motor vehicle fatalities and sexual assault charges in recent years.
5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/07/marine_captain_it_may_seem_like_business_as_usual_to_you_but_it_feels_to_me_like_ou
Not sure the troll alert will work - you need to prevent escalation regardless of what account said troll uses.
Isolation is the best strategy. If he is ignored, he will likely go elsewhere to pollute the well.
9 months ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/17/a_sad_best_defense_precedent_is_set
Thoughts from RADM Foggo on USNI:
When I woke up this morning, I was deeply saddened by the news of the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. Although I didn’t know how it happened, I did know that the United States had lost a great American, an accomplished diplomat and a courageous man. In my last job at U.S. SIXTH Fleet Headquarters, I served as Operations Officer for the Libya Campaign. I will never forget some of the “movers and shakers” that made things happen during Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector. Three names in particular always come to mind: LTC Brian Linville, U.S. Army, Assistant Defense Attaché in Libya; Brigadier General Abdel Salam al-Hasi, a key member of the Libyan Opposition Forces who repeatedly risked his life during the campaign, and Chris Stevens, who as Special Envoy to the Libyan Trans-National Council was one of the first Americans on the ground.
All three of these men are heroes, but I will only pay homage to one of them today–Ambassador Chris Stevens. Chris and his small team of diplomats and volunteers from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) entered Benghazi not long after U.S. and NATO airpower had pushed Regime Forces out of the city and further south to the cities of Brega and Ajdabiya. It was then still a very dangerous and uncertain environment.
One of our roles in Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn was to provide a means to get Chris and his team out if they ran into trouble. There were several possible courses of action (COA) and means at our disposal. Each one carried with it associated risks. It was our job at JTF HQ to minimize those risks. For my part, I believed we were overlooking one big factor in our planning: A personal interaction with the guy we were going to have to extract. So, I arranged a phone call with Chris. There was a lot I wanted to discuss, but I knew he had his hands full. I just wanted to tell him one thing: “Chris, if you need us, the Navy and Marine Corps have got your back!”
It was a great conversation, much longer than I had anticipated. Chris was a wellspring of knowledge about what was going on. He was direct, candid and incredibly informed. When I hung up, I told VADM Harry Harris, then the Sixth Fleet Commander–”Boss, Chris Stevens is one phenomenal guy. Now I know why State sent him!”
Since no American military boots were allowed on the ground in Libya during the operation and since we were just massing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, we were starved for real time eyes-on-the-ground information about what was happening in the Transnational Council, in Benghazi and in the rest of the country. Chris was a virtual encyclopedia. I was struck by his upbeat tone and tenor and his calm and cool demeanor. He was under a lot of pressure and challenging deadlines to show American support for the Libyan people, provide an avenue and method for delivery of humanitarian supplies and establish a sound relationship with the Trans National Council. The odds were against his mission, but Chris was full of enthusiasm and hope for the Libyan people’s right to self-determination.
As number two man at our Embassy in Tripoli before the campaign, he was plugged in. He knew the turf and the terrain. He understood the people, the demographics and the tribal politics. He knew the importance of humanitarian aid and that speed mattered — being the first responder to the needs of the Libyan people was going to pay big dividends during the campaign. He helped clear up a number of important questions for us about conditions on the ground and how we might better do our job and carry out our charter inherent in the United Nations Security Council Resolution. Chris gave me better situational awareness than any of the intelligence reports I received and in the final analysis, I was buoyed by his spirit, hope and enthusiasm.
He made me want to work just a little bit harder. He made me want to be better at my job.
Finally, I was struck by how he went out of his way to thank the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps for doing so much to plan for his safety and that of his team. Thankfully, we never had to execute those plans. Chris completed his mission and his mandate. The Libyan Campaign came to a close and the Libyan people earned the right to govern themselves. Free and fair elections took place a few months ago and moderates won the majority in government. Earlier this year, Chris was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador and returned to Libya. His selection was a “no brainer” to me, and I thought to myself, that guy is going to make a difference.
Now, he is dead… killed in the very city he helped set free. I regret that I never had the chance to meet him in person or shake his hand.
Ambassador Chris Stevens is the epitome of what Admiral Mike Mullen used to call “expeditionary government.” After 9/11, everything changed and although sending our military forces overseas was necessary, it was by no means sufficient. Along with those forces, on the front line and in the trenches, are members of so many other federal agencies–the ultimate force multiplier. Like Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines, our State Department and other agencies are operating by our side on the tip of the spear and assuming similar risks. My hat is off to these men and women who sacrifice much for their country.
In the case of Ambassador Stevens, he made the ultimate sacrifice. I salute him. The next time I see someone from the Department of State, I will say, “Thank you for YOUR service!” I hope you will do the same.
9 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/12/rip_ambassador_stevens
Tom, while I am no fan of the President (nor Romney) I have to agree with his comment from last night's acceptance speech:
" And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don't even want, I'll use the money we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work - rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it's time to do some nation-building right here at home. "
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/06/im_so_tired_of_pakistan
We need to reinvigorate the concept of citizenship. You can add standing post on the SW border to the list of opportunities available to serve our nation. Make national service a prerequisite for any form of federal financial assistance for education programs.
11 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/02/obamas_world
Sure, I’ll attempt to answer your question as best I can (I only have 1 master’s that I had to take out a loan for) and I would ask you to answer mine re: ROI. I’ll even give you some help. Go back to the DoD stats on the total population of military officers from 1962 to present. Then use the CSBA cost figures on Graduate PME (Adjust for inflation of course). Use the 2005 BRAC study to estimate the cost of maintaining military grad schools (~$90M/y to maintain NPS for example). Then calculate the total cost of PME and compare that with the effectiveness of military officers from 1962 to present. Please include outcomes of military operations and the cost of mismanaged/unnecessary acquisition programs.
Q. As a taxpayer, am I getting a good deal?
“Please, describe what your alternative looks like.”
I’m not sure what you are asking here – alternative to military education? Ok, I don’t think there is a serious problem with PME and it is absolutely necessary (although there is plenty of room for improvement) but the problem lies with the military personnel system writ large. You can’t expect tax payers to fund education sabbaticals equally for every officer – particularly funding of “good deals” for officer’s near retirement. Some military officers barely make it through undergrad work and they have no promotion potential. There should be careful screening of who goes to schools and it should align specifically to career paths. Officers need to be held accountable for their academic performance when given these great opportunities. This would reduce the total cost of PME because not everyone would have to go or deserves to go to taxpayer funded programs.
If you are asking a larger question regarding education, I would ask you to consider the cost to the US taxpayer to fully fund Goldwater-Nichols reform of the military from 1986 to present – consider total cost. That same level of effort, attention and resources needs to go into resolving our internal problems.
I recently heard a military officer advocate for war with China because China is a police state – not sure if he realized the US has more prisoners per capita than any other nation on the globe and the criminal justice system is operating beyond capacity. Yet we continue to ignore internal problems and commit national treasure to over-fund military programs.
Last year I attended a seminar at Brookings. The president of AT&T pointed out that when they were upgrading the national network to 4G, they put out an RFP. No US company bid on this multi-billion dollar program because the technical expertise in the US workforce was non-existent – a direct result of our crappy education system. But education is only a portion of our national problems - so too is poor governance and corruption – and all indicators are trending downward.
I’m sure you will quickly dismiss my thoughts because I am a stupid, poorly educated tax payer and I don’t “get it” when it comes to the military. So here is a recent quote from a military guy – not what sure what PME schools he attended:
"America’s domestic social and economic problems will become so severe that the world will have to tend to itself for a decade while Americans sort themselves out." Col Douglas MacGregor, USA, 2012
We will never solve our internal problems if we continue to commit the vast percentage of discretionary spending and intellectual capital on countering Cold War style threats.
1 year ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/23/a_pme_survivor_on_how_to_fix_the_war_college_system_take_it_back_to_the_future
@Rubber Ducky Squidly - no thank you for providing the morning's entertainment!
With $16T federal debt, all discretionary federal spending is indeed a tradeoff – the nation can’t have everything it wants/needs. Taxpayer dollars could be expended on sending warriors to grad school or they could be used to improve k-12 education or resolving many of other domestic problems - It's a choice.
“I can't think of many sane citizens who could be convinced that it's not in our nation's best interest to educate our senior officers as much as possible.
Really? So any tax paying citizen who is familiar with PME and questions it is insane? Put me in that group – and yes I am part of the 49% current on my taxes. I don’t want to fund the education of senior officers as much as possible - the ROI has been pretty poor over the past four decades.
It’s amusing to watch the MICC get nasty when the status quo is challenged.
I’ll simply attribute your lack of awareness or concern for our domestic problems to your 30+ years of sea time. Thank you for your interest in national security.
Your comment accurately illustrates how out of balance our national investments really are. Tax payers pay military officers to get two or three graduate degrees per career while at the same time the pathetic state of K-12 schools in the US is widely ignored. It makes no sense for the nation to develop better educated warriors than are our educators.
In the future, our inability to effectively compete in the global economy will be a significant national security concern that can’t be resolved by the military.
What other organization could administer the interagency NSPD program if not the NSC? OPM? DoD attempted to manage the NSP program in 2007 and that was a resounding failure.
I’ve noticed NDU is attempting to fill the void but it is not the right organization for interagency National Security Education.
Excellent post and an interesting approach on distinguishing between types of military professionals. However, national security professionals should be a separate education program distinct from military PME. DoD already has too much influence in the national security decision making process and a separate path is needed to counter militaristic problem solving methods.
EO 13434 was a great first step in building the NSP Professional Development process but the bureaucracy was able to stifle the effort (being debated for the last two years at OPM). Col John Collins recently advocated for creating a National Security Institute that reported directly to the NSC.
With all the attention given to PME, its interesting to see the debacle at NDU/JFSC hasn't been included in the discussion.
Is this the outcome of warriors attempting to be scholars or just a rogue program?
1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/11/slightly_steamed_gen_scales_explains_his_criticism_of_the_militarys_war_colleges
@Kreigsakademie @Xenophon You’ve probably already sold 100 advanced copies of your forthcoming book with these two posts alone…
Your passion and excitement for the mission after several decades is very clear! Please let me know where to send the check.
1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @ http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/04/19/no_7_navy_co_sacked