Monday, December 15, 2008

The Navy Has a New Secretary: Juan Garcia

The Obama administration has picked Juan Garcia as the soon to be Secretary of the Navy. I know, who? Clearly a political choice, and one wonders how effective the background check was. Apparently, while the Navy Times is reading Springboard regarding SECNAV names, no one else noticed that before floating Bob Work's name, Springboard was talking about Juan Garcia early in the process. As Springboard pointed out at the time, Mr. Garcia didn't retire as a Navy aviator until October 2004, meaning by law he isn't even eligible to be a service chief until October 2009. What, you guys drop the ball on the whole 'vetting process' thing?

What does it mean? Not much really, the guy is largely an unknown, can't say I can find a single unique strategic thought he has ever put down on paper or in public regarding the Navy, making him the ultimate question mark. Seems like a politically sharp fellow, so that's something.

It is hard to see this as anything but a political choice when the new administration chooses an unknown for the Secretary of the Navy cabinet position, because basically that means the guy will spend at least his first year building credibility within the Navy, and in this case, mostly among officers whom he was junior to less than five years ago. The signal here is the administration does not intend to change much in regards to the Navy, a clear sign that strategy will play second fiddle to industry, which should make several people I know very happy actually.

Put the Guinness away folks, nothing to toast here from the cheap seats. Honestly, this pick makes no sense at all, but it is what it is. Mr. Garcia will be interesting to watch, particularly as the Navy runs wild without leadership after Winter retires, while everyone pretends that doesn't matter. Maybe Mr. Garcia can use the time until October to give us some idea of his vision, I've got several thousand readers who would be very curious.

I hope the Obama administration is making a good choice here, because given the place of the Navy right now, it seems to me the best pick would have been Bob Work, with someone like Juan Garcia riding shotgun to get the strategic part right while introducing himself, and then being Bob's replacement. I just don't see how this makes any sense, but then again, I'm disconnected from the political... well mostly. Actually I'll go ahead and say it... when the official announcement comes in a few days, the beer is on me if his qualifications as a strategic naval thinker are highlighted more than his race in the news articles. That was racist and insulting right? So who wants to take the bet? Didn't think so, and that is the problem when the resume is thin, people have to search for qualifications and turn race, sex, etc... into qualifications. It actually is racist, but today it is also sold as diversity.

He could be a great pick, but I have no reason at all to think so, none. That's not a problem if you don't care about the Navy though, which when you cut through the smoke is the real signal the administration is sending here.

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