Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Army's Most Extraordinary "Luck"

Both Noah and CDR Salamander have this right, no matter how you look at it - General Cartwright has been taken to the mattresses by a smear campaign. General Cartwright is so completely done in the Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff job that Loren Thompson has even brought up the rumor about his romantic involvement with the head of a government agency, although Dr. Thompson waited to reveal that after Josh Rogin had reported that Sandee Cartwright "is planning to go public with her feelings about her husband."

Yeah, it's that ugly.

But it is actually the other details that are emerging from various sources that are quite interesting, and tell a very interesting story in their own right. For example, Navy Times is reporting what I mentioned last week - that General Dempsey is the Pentagon's recommendation for top job.

But sources said the Pentagon has forwarded two choices for chairman and two for vice chairman. The options for chairman included Dempsey, who became the Army chief last month, and Gen. Ray Odierno, who heads the Joint Forces Command, which is in the process of being eliminated. Dempsey is said to be the top pick, sources said, with Odierno expected to succeed Dempsey as Army chief.

The choice of chairman is always a priority for any administration. The chairman is the principal military adviser to the president, who has the legal right to the choice. The next chairman is expected to help shape America’s drawdown from Iraq, operations in and withdrawal from Afghanistan, and changing military-to-military relationships, all as budget changes will force program, personnel and strategic choices.

Dempsey’s inclusion surprised many observers.
Then it gets really odd, because Navy Times also reported that the two recommended names for Vice Chairman to replace General Cartwright were "Navy Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, who has run U.S. Northern Command for the past year, and Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, currently his service’s chief of staff."

It actually gets more strange, because the two people recommended for CNO were Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Adm. Robert Willard.

So what happened to Adm. James Stavridis? According to Loren Thompson "The possibility that Gen. Dempsey might get the nod for the top military job only began circulating two weeks ago, when rumors started to spread that Adm. Stavridis had not fared well in his White House interview for the chairman's position."

There could be valid reasons Adm. Stavridis isn't in consideration, but it is asking a lot of us, the sheeple, to believe that a former SOUTHCOM commander and the current EUCOM commander, not to mention Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, not to mention one of the greatest writers and speakers the Navy has had since WWII; somehow flunked his interview. The suggestion the interview went poorly would raise serious questions about the interviewer than the interviewee. The interview nonsense is clearly a distraction, and more likely yet another distraction in what has become a contest filled with distractions.

I have serious questions regarding the purpose of Goldwater-Nichols when the two most impressive military officers of this generation, General Petraeus and Admiral Stavridis, both PhDs, both experienced COCOMs, and both with experience leading large coalitions in wars we are fighting; have somehow been passed up and aren't even being considered in the massive rotations at the top of the military.

I also do not understand how at a time when the nation is trying to wind down two land wars in Asia, at a time when the DoD has been developing the AirSea Battle doctrine, and at a time when the Department of Defense is facing very large budget cuts, that one would seriously believe two Army Generals would rise to be the first, best choices for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I have to say, that would be the most impeccable timing possible should the Army, from out of nowhere and with the assistance of a random 3 month early appointment to Chief of Staff of the Army for General Dempsey, suddenly take over CJCS just as the DoD was about to transition away from the large land war in Asia approach to foreign diplomacy.

There are rumors of high politics flying around the DoD related to all the above, and apparently no one has figured out yet what is and isn't true. When I observe what is taking place in the military rotations at the top of the DoD I seriously begin to wonder if it is even possible for the United States to think strategically.

I am not saying that General Dempsey couldn't do a good job as CJCS, but I do think it is remarkable that he or General Odierno would get the nod before Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz based solely on the timing and strategic environment. It is a really good thing the leadership of the Army is generally thought incapable of pulling off a master plan and positioning themselves at the top of the DoD food chain for the CJCS post at the precise moment the Army needs the post the most due to the supposedly changing strategic environment. Without that reputation of lacking the skill in planning for such a master plan, I would have to give them credit for doing exactly that.

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