2:19 PM, Aug 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
Back in the day when it was fashionable for the press to criticize the president and senior military officials for mismanaging a war--that is, from 2003 to 2009--such stories often focused on the colonels, majors, and captains who saw firsthand the practical problems with their superiors' approach and who pushed hard to change policy based on that hard-fought experience.
In journal articles such as "A Failure of Generalship," and in long profiles in the New York Times (repeatedly) and elsewhere, they ventilated major problems in the military's thinking and created substantial political pressure on the White House, Pentagon, and military bureaucracy to correct the course.
Ultimately, the need to retain majors and captains, precisely in order to maintain the long-term quality of America's military capabilities, became a substantial political issue. Shortly before President Obama entered office, incoming Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy argued that the Army would "need to retain a higher percentage of its experienced officers to lead the force"; the Center for American Progress argued that "Majors are the Army’s future senior leaders, but they are exiting the service at increasing rates during a period of military growth."
But the clearest call for retaining majors and captains came from Candidate Obama himself, in a 2007 speech before the VFW in Kansas City (emphasis added): "Retention rates of West Point graduates are approaching records lows. We need to keep these battle-hardened majors and captains so they can become tomorrow's generals."
Fast forward seven years, and those words are long forgotten. As the AP reports this week, President Obama's Defense Department will lay off 550 majors, including many currently stationed overseas. This comes on the heels of the decision last fall to fire more than 1,000 captains.
Tom Ricks summarized last fall's decision succinctly: "Army to its captains: Thanks for your service. Now, 20 percent of you, get lost!"
Evidently President Obama doesn't find "tomorrow's generals" as valuable as he used to. But America can't make the same mistake.
1:45 PM, Jul 16, 2014 • By ROGER ZAKHEIM
This week senior officials from the Pentagon will testify before Congress on their request for emergency appropriations, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations funding (OCO in military speak). A decision to maintain troop presence in Afghanistan, a resurgence of radical Sunni terrorism across the Middle east, and Russian expansionism in Europe all seem like good reasons for the administration to request the emergency funding. These events, however, haven’t prevented some proponents of defense cuts to question the validity of the request.
7:36 AM, Feb 26, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
News broke this week that under a plan released by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the United States Army will be reduced to its smallest force since before World War II. Though not directly related to that plan, another announcement this week by the Defense Department gives, perhaps, a taste of what those cuts may look like. Plans are underway for massive cuts to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), the organization that has led military's efforts to combat a weapon of choice among insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. JIEDDO's current staff of 3,000 will be reduced to 1,000 by the end of this fiscal year, and further plans could see the number fall as low as 400 down the road.
3:04 PM, Feb 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Republican chairman of the House Budget committee criticized the Obama administration's plans to shrink the defense budget in a statement.
“The House Republican budgets have consistently met the needs of our military leadership," said Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican. "It’s disappointing that the President continues to use these vital funds as bargaining chips for higher taxes and more domestic spending."
7:01 AM, Feb 19, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The Department of Defense (DOD) has just announced that the public will be invited to vote in a video competition called "Fight the Enemy." In this case, the enemy is tobacco. The innovation office of the military's assistant secretary of defense for health affairs is sponsoring the competition among U.S. service members around the world who were invited to film and submit "tobacco countermarketing" videos.
Hosted by Michael Graham4:10 PM, Jan 8, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with senior writer Stephen Hayes on Bob Gates and his new book, Benghazi, and Hillary Clinton.
The administration’s move to silence a Pentagon strategist.Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
Andrew Marshall, the longtime director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, has had a number of titles conferred on him over the years. A 1999 profile in Washingtonian magazine dubbed him “the most influential policy maker you have never heard of.” Others of us who have known him over the years have christened him “the Jedi Master” because, like the enigmatic Yoda from the George Lucas Star Wars saga, he has an uncanny ability to see ahead and to grasp the strengths and weaknesses of the nation’s adversaries.
12:21 PM, Aug 26, 2013 • By SETH CROPSEY
The British launched the opening attack of the 3rd battle of Ypres on July 31, 1917. The objective was to destroy a rail junction on which the German army depended for Western Front supplies. The plan included British naval as well as amphibious assaults on the nearby Belgian coast. The naval action was to have loosened Germany’s grip on continental ports whose danger to England—in the hands of an enemy—hearkened back to Napoleon and foreshadowed Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion both of which British dominance at sea decisively turned back.
7:04 AM, Aug 26, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Department of Defense is looking at some serious cutbacks in its civilian workforce, as Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg writes:
10:39 AM, Aug 9, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
"When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that
the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: 'Where's the nearest carrier?'"
(President Bill Clinton, March 12, 1993, aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt)
Twenty years later, it appears that the answer to that question will soon be, "The carriers are in mothballs." Rusting away. We can't afford them any longer."
1:17 PM, Jul 30, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
While furloughs of civilian employees of the Defense Department have not lived up to the pre-sequester billing, the Pentagon is doing what it can to ease the pain for those who will be taking involuntary time off. The American Forces Press Service is reporting that the director of the Pentagon's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (WMR) program is urging furloughed civilians to tap into "fitness, recreational and educational services, often at no charge or for significantly less than one might pay just outside an installation’s gates." The list of "free or low-cost" offerings is extensive:
8:39 AM, Jul 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
When Congress was debating implementation of the sequester, the Pentagon released a report saying that if the cuts were to kick in, civilian personnel could be furloughed for 22 days -- nearly a month's worth of work. But now that the sequester has kicked in, those furlough days appear to have been inflated.