April 12th, 2011 by Caradoc
“Contracting has been a growing trend for nearly two decades throughout the defense establishment: in the army, for example, not simply for kitchen police or security for stateside bases, which makes eminent sense, but increasingly for core military functions like doctrine, after-action analysis, and the training of foreign armies. Some of this has resulted from the pressure of too many missions and too few people. But whether because of resources or convenience, too much has been willingly given up by the armed forces. A profession that surrenders jurisdiction over its most basic areas of expertise, no matter what the reason, risks its own destruction.” (Tarnished Brass: Is the U.S. Military Profession in Decline? by Richard H. Kohn, World Affairs, Spring 2009)
Will contracting out our core areas of expertise become more prevalent as we downsize the military following Iraq and Afghanistan? As we downsize, what Functional Areas are going to be slashed and given over to contractors?
April 1st, 2011 by Centurion
Wow, I find it amazing that the more I work the less connected to current events I become. As I pour myself into a project my awareness seems to degrade exponentially. I don’t like it- degrading awareness that is. I generally like to work.
I’ve watched bits and pieces of the intervention in Libya unfold and wish I could dedicate more time to analyzing it in depth. I do find it interesting that the President has committed military forces in a manner that he had railed against prior to the invasion of Iraq. It makes me wonder what our strategic rationale is for commitment of military assets. Is it for the national interest, security or Values based? If it is values based why not Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea or Burma? All are different forms of tyranny and all mistreat their people (at least in a western sense of human rights). Is our use of military assets simply based on which political part of the spectrum you fall on? What I mean is, if your case for military action is based on “humanitarian” reasons such as Bosnia, Somalia and Libya then you line up to the left and the players on the left simply support you without question?
I’m not bashing the current decisions that have been made. You can make a similar case for the polarization that ensued during the invasion of Iraq. The right supported President Bush and the left decried the illegal war. The same thing is happening now but it is the right calling foul and the left making the case for action. Perhaps I am becoming jaded but playing partisan politics with military actions is unhealthy for our country. We risk making our foreign policies even less coherent than it already is. Our credibility as a nation suffers because our actions do not align with our stated values. If we believe brutal regimes that violate human rights must fall then why do we support the Saudis? We know why we support the Saudis- they have oil and we have no real energy strategy to make us independent from Saudi oil. That leaves us at odds with our values and our national interest (keep the oil coming). At what point do we begin to reassess our national strategy to ensure our national interest are congruent with our national values? Until that day comes we will always appear as hypocrites to the rest of the world.
February 28th, 2011 by Centurion
I haven’t posted in awhile because, quite honestly, my day job is kicking my ass right now. The good part about it is I am very busy for a reason. Right now, the Army is balancing on the blade of a knife; which way we will fall remains unknown. As an institution the Army has been reaching out to some really great minds, exploring–and even repeating out loud–concepts that may have been perceived as heretical a few years back. As a result, there is now a great balancing act taking place and I am waiting to see which side of the blade we will fall on.
Case in point, COL Matthew Moten, Roger Spiller, Ted Wilson and others are busy chewing on the idea of war termination. If you haven’t read “Between War and Peace: How America Ends Its Wars”, you should try. This isn’t just a book for Soldiers. It needs to be read everyone- not the least the politicians who decide when to begin cranking the engine of war.
Also, there is Jon Lehman and Richard Kohn’s argument for cessation of ROTC in favor of a more flexible system that doesn’t require the infrastructure or cost of our present officer training program. They also provide some compelling arguments that their way could assist the growing military and civilian gap that has widened in the last few years.
LTG (R) Barno also makes some great points in the challenges that the next Army Chief of Staff may face (or should) during his tenure. I believe the most lasting impact that the next Chief could have is LTG (R) Barno’s third recommendation- fix the personnel system. In my mind everything we do, building strategic leaders, providing officers broadening experiences, promoting a culture of learning and inquisitiveness cascades out of an agile and well engineered personnel system. If we continue to be slaves to career timelines, up or out promotions and key development positions then we will never grow our leaders the way we should. Very few people are willing to risk broadening themselves without first qualifying themselves for promotion. After that criterion has been satisfied, and if they have the time, they may take a job out of the “norm”. The result, however, is ducks continuing to look like ducks. If we want a different type of leader, then we must have a different system that encourages the attributes that are wanted.
Bottom line is this: will the Army fall back into its institutional comfort zone, or will it pivot into a newer, dare I say progressive, way of thinking about leadership and the way we define ourselves as a profession? I know which side I’m on.
February 2nd, 2011 by Centurion
For all you MilBloggers out there.
The Winter Association of the United States Army (AUSA) symposium will be in Fort Lauderdale Fla. from 23-25 Feb 2011.
AUSA has agreed to let MilBloggers register as press and attend the event (they will wave the $500.00 registration fee). You’ll have to provide your own logistics- Lodging, chow etc. I’ll have my Rockstar and twinkies ready and sleep in my hatchback -so I’m good.
The winter event will be heavy on industry and technology so I should FINALLY get the chance to rampage in a exoskeleton (My life will be complete).
There should also be numerous speaking engegment by the heavy hitters in the Army community. I think it will be a great chance to see what is on the horizon for the Army in the next few years.
January 18th, 2011 by Caradoc
There is certainly something to be said about being prepared and presenting oneself with poise and structure. Dozens of times here in Afghanistan I have seen the dichotomy of how military organizations prepare and present information to visiting Congressional Delegations, and how the Embassy does so. The difference is night and day. The military uses multiple staff officers and spends hours preparing the information they think the Congressmen and women desire – crafting their message to ensure resonance with each member and driving at desired outcomes for the organization. They know what they need from Congress and tailor their requests based on what they think is acceptable to legislators.
Congressional meetings at the Embassy, however, are less formal affairs. There is little structure and each section has a voice about their area. This creates a very confusing discussion. There appears to be little or no direction for where the conversation is going, or what the Embassy wants to get across to the Congressional delegation.
This is in no way designed to belittle State employees or the job they are performing here in Afghanistan, and in all truthfulness I am a military service member so my opinion is obviously biased. It was just very striking the difference in approach to our nation’s appropriators. Given the historic lack of funding that State gets from Congress (with their funding being even slashed further in the last appropriation bill), it amazes me that they have not taken a more proactive and deliberate stance on briefing and, honestly, influencing members of Congress that pass through Kabul.
State and USAID funding needs to be greatly increased, even if that means decreasing that of the Department of Defense. Our national security, foreign policy, and standing in the world require it. It would help if these two organizations worked harder to give Congress a reason to pay for it…