I’ve written a few articles about military issues over the past twenty months or so, most of which pointed out leadership malfeasance at the highest levels and called for the firing and/or resignation of defense leadership, as well as sounding the alarm for the potential of such gross dereliction and ineptitude to adversely affect combat readiness because of problems that were easily predictable with regard to retention, recruitment and mission capable status. I’ve been very specific in consistently calling for the firing or resignation of Austin and Milley, in particular.
Much like Mickey Rourke’s admonition in Body Heat about not doing arson, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert here with all the answers to fixing what people are increasingly pointing out about issues with the military. What I am going to do is point to and call out the reporting about smoke and concerns about fire and observe that nobody who seems to be in a position to do anything about the problem seems to be focused on fixing it: there is a near zero chance of the US government fixing a problem they are not working on. E.G., while many of us are observing flaws and handwringing over many of these self-inflicted actions, there is zero chance of fixing or reversing course if our government leadership believes they are making progress and achieving the goals they’ve established.
And how could that be the case is a rational and reasonable question, but often such reasonable questions somewhat give away the proverbial game underway, as it is blatantly apparent that despite almost all metrics or dashboards blinking reddish yellow to red on most defense related readiness criteria, we are witnessing mostly no action to mere band aids being applied to sucking chest wounds focused on marginalia and fringe issues.
Civilian leadership of the military is a bedrock tenet of the success of our system since inception. I would offer we have two issues ongoing with the implementation of current leadership that are worst practices in action that bode poorly to turn things around anytime soon. One is that against all common sense, reason and logic, our government waivered the current secretary of defense into position when he was clearly not the only option-nor the most and best qualified person or potential leader-available to fill this important and critical position.
Secondarily many of the leadership positions within the Department of Defense have been decided by and filled by “quotas” or social justice criteria with scant regard to true qualifications, expertise or skills, knowledge and ability. With the result that you have a leadership crew that is ill-suited to what is needed to turn things around-because they are largely oblivious to ongoing problems.
I only have about 42 years of “bull riding” time in this rodeo, but I saw way too much-much more-than my share of people in positions with the authority or responsibility to do the job with neither the capability nor talent for it. There is a particularly acute and bad sucking sound that emits from people who are put in positions they are too short to reach the pedals on. In the military thank God we had an NCO corps that could get the mission done-having done that for a half dozen or more years myself, I never thought about what we would do without them-after I was commissioned, I spent a lot of time working with good ones and trying to develop younger and better ones. In Civil Service I strove to be the observer and not the briefer and when I was getting ready to retire, I let those know that I had developed and trained over the years that it was time for them to step up. There were those who insinuated or somewhat wined to me about retiring somewhat precipitously and leaving unfinished business. I good naturedly but pointedly chewed each butt in turn like a ragged dog: are you telling me I wasted my time these past X years training you?
Austin-in particular-oversaw the rise/revival of ISIS under Obama when the US military-under Austin at the time as the United States Central Command Commander-was seemingly unable to do anything about deterring the Islamic maniacs from capturing land, people, killing Christians, beheading Muslims and selling oil to fund their murderous actions while declaring the revival of the Islamic Caliphate. Meanwhile Austin’s intelligence component of his command-one of the largest in the US military-consisting of some nearly 3000 people in the Joint Intelligence Center alone-was under investigation by the Inspector General (IG) because whistleblowers alleged the command was watering down the intelligence assessments being forwarded to downplay the Islamic threat to support administration desires to draw forces down in the Middle East. The IG subsequently found no culpability on Austin’s part or issues or problems within the command on their reporting. However, the Islamic Caliphate did stand up-people were routinely kidnapped, murdered, publicly beheaded, and it was not cleaned up until the Bad Orange Man took over and killed and disrupted and scattered the Caliphate to the four winds.
Now of course the man who had been fired out of CENTCOM (by Obama)-Gen Mattis-later was waivered into position as SECDEF by Trump, while the general who seemed unable to contain ISIS-Austin-was later waivered into position as SECDEF by Biden. Mattis oversaw the elimination of the Caliphate, while Austin has overseen the precipitous, disastrous withdrawal out of Afghanistan-shocked that the 320K trained security force fell within 11 days. He-and his leadership team-further demonstrated how uniquely talented he was to be SECDEF by informing congress that Ukraine would fall to the Russians within 72 hours-6 months and tens of billions of dollars ago.
Austin also initiated the military emphasis on race that resulted in a total force down day to focus on a problem that few outside of the race hustlers and race baiters and race practitioners were able to satisfactorily explain and describe sufficiently to warrant the entire American military giving up one full day of training-immediately-to focus on the problem and remedies to whatever those ill-defined and un-described problems were: it seemed to be a case of knowing it or believing it when it was seen.
Now to a person, none of the SECDEF’s senior commanders-many Austin’s peers and colleagues-testified to congress that the military had such a problem, nor agreed with the notion that some nearly 10% of the force suffered from some degree of the problem-but Austin’s racism advisor (Diversity-Equity-Inclusion)-Bishop Garrison-knew better and disputed the senior leaders of the military-with somewhere over 150 years of experience between them, while Austin’s race baiting advisor was in the military for a handful of years: but he knew better.
Now I could play this saw for another 10 articles, but the bottom-line issue here is somewhat two-fold. Number one is we have a lot of people who should know better pointing out all manner of silliness and nonsense about stuff that is simply not enduring-examples to follow. And we similarly have people who do know better pointing out problems-that are being ignored and marginalized and poo-pooed in the face of irrefutable evidence of problems.
My favorite examples of the former include any and all Russia Collusion and Trump Derangement Syndrome examples, not only continuing to the present in the face of the near total debunking of just about every piece of it, but moreso based on what we have learned about FBI and DOJ malfeasance perhaps best exemplified by the recent raid on Mar-A-Lago and the disclosure that Danchenko had been an FBI Confidential HUMINT Source right up until 2020: Danchenko. Need more spelling out of it? Our federal government paid for Russian disinformation to frame the president of the United States for colluding with Russia.
What is the most ridiculous example of what I am talking about? It-the “ridicularity” factor-literally ratchets up weekly if not nearly every day but one of my favorites has been talked about for some time now, but in keeping with Critical Racism Theory and some of its variants known as Unconscious Bias and variations of Social Equity blather, blather, this Federalist Article reports on how the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) placed a “harmful content” warning on the Constitution, labeling the governing document of the United States as “harmful or difficult to view.” The warning applies to all documents across the Archives’ cataloged website, including the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. The shocking part is that this happened at all and that it was done by our government, but perhaps the more shocking part of it is that many of us have been accused of being racists for calling out such shocking and offensive behavior within our government: the US government.
It comes as no surprise that despite the Biden Administration denial of involvement in the Mar-A-Lago raid, the court records clearly cite the Biden Administration as the authorizing authority directing the action and the same NARA as the government bureaucracy empowering the action: NARA.
Here is a decent Forbes article talking about concerns with USAF combat readiness. Of note within the article is how long this debacle has been playing out-and what is being done about it: crickets. This Red State article similarly points out the incongruity of trying to work through pilot shortages while taking largely race based policy actions that are causing many of the problems.
This Fox News article citing former SECDEF Mark Esper is telling in that it discusses-not problems with the All-Vol Force, but the “death of it.” The scale needed to recover from recruiting shortfalls is staggering and yet there seems to be little imagination or initiative being thrown at the problem, nor a strategy short of adjusting force estimates to reflect projected shortfalls.
Then there is this extraordinary document entitled TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND: PRINCIPLES OF CIVILIAN CONTROL AND BEST PRACTICES OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS, signed by eight former Secretaries of Defense and five former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In light of the military readiness issues and problems currently ongoing, it is at the very least extraordinary that the collective wisdom and experience represented in the above document felt it necessary to basically refresh and lay down somewhat of the civil-military code pertaining to the differences between civilian control of the military and the nature and pertinence of lawful orders.
It is telling that these gentlemen felt it necessary to write “Politically, military professionals confront an extremely adverse environment characterized by the divisiveness of affective polarization that culminated in the first election in over a century when the peaceful transfer of political power was disrupted and in doubt” (emphasis added.)
They go on to write what I’m tempted to characterize as a “blinding flash of the obvious”-things like “Military officials are required to carry out legal orders the wisdom of which they doubt. Civilian officials should provide the military ample opportunity to express their doubts in appropriate venues. Civilian and military officials should also take care to properly characterize military advice in public. Civilian leaders must take responsibility for the consequences of the actions they direct.”
Well golly, I’m tempted to bring up Jethro and Double Knot Spy School. Now we just walked away from over two decades of effort in Afghanistan-including leaving a reported tens of billions of dollars in weaponry and equipment that has made the enemy that we took on in the original fight-the Taliban and Al Qaeda-something like the 8th largest military power in the world. We have somewhat-and pretty much-stood by while Russia has basically torn asunder the Atlantic Alliance and the notion of defense in Post-World War II Europe and the American standard of diplomacy, with our defense establishment on record as advising our leaders that the war would be over within 72 hours: six months ago.
And yet the collective wisdom of the above gentleman is on the basic 101 tenets of civil-military control and relationships within the US government structure, as well as characterizing the events of 6 January 2021 in a way that many simply do not resonate with, given the failure of our government-the masters these gentleman were/are obligated to serve and support-and to whom this letter is apparently addressed-to conduct a balanced and comprehensive investigation of the events that took place that day so that we may advise the public, address any issues or problems and remedy shortfalls that contributed to the chaos and disorder that occurred that day in order thereby to preclude such a civil-military failure in the future and to ensure appropriate support for the mechanisms of government, as well as the participation of the people in the pageantry of our system.
We need these former leaders and experts focused on future missions and needed capabilities, as well as contributing to strategy and modernization efforts to keep our edge. I will risk being the only person totally underwhelmed by this letter that disregards all the flashing yellow and red lights on the proverbial military dashboard in favor of providing a military officer 101 tutorial on civil-military control.
We need serious people and leaders to step up and right this ship. Military leaders need to start throwing BS flags on all the divisive “crap” being pursued within the military and get back to the business of combat readiness, leadership, and training to win battles and wars. What is needed at this point? How about an end to the COVID vaccine madness or separation: hasn’t that ruse done enough damage over the past several years? Also, the racial division being sown within the force through the Critical Racism Training that is not being taught anywhere (winky, f’n, Winky) and also stopping the madness and focus on gender-trans-pronouns and marginal issues that detract from unit cohesion and undermine readiness.
It may not be popular to say out loud-but renaming posts and tearing down statues of our military war heroes is un-American and divisive and contributing to the problems with recruiting and retention and moral. Undoing our American history with a view to further divisive actions over things that were settled long before anybody living today was born is counterproductive and divisive. This modern school of thought that considers some who fought in these wars now as “traitors” to our system is problematic, wrongheaded and again, divisive to a fault.
We need more leaders to focus on resolving problems and cleaning up government’s act, with less focus on preachiness, sanctimony, bullspit and lies. I think there is zero chance that the problems facing military readiness today are going to be solved by the inept leadership team in place (used in the loosest sense of the word imaginable) that continues to create and inflict the chaos that has caused the problems in the first place.
We live in interesting times…
22 September 2022
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