By now I am sure most of you have checked out the inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense list that was compiled by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the staffs of Gannett Government Media’s publications Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal, and Federal Times.
I like this idea for several reasons, but the primary reason is because I look forward to seeing how this list changes over time. It is a list, so it isn't exactly something seriously impactful and is obviously a type of popularity contest, but I do believe it can be useful in the future when we look back and see who was at the table when the sausage was made in National Defense.
In my opinion, Gannett got this list 99% right, and I say that because I do not believe Bradley Manning belongs on the list. For everyone on the list but Bradley Manning, Gannett used one definition of Influence, but had to change that definition to include Manning. Other than that one issue, I think Gannett has done a really good job and by ranking folks they have enabled, if so desired, a debate on who should not have been left off the list, who else should not be on the list, and whether the order of the list is accurate.
It is noteworthy to Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon is not on the list. I don't know Bob Simmons, but I know of Bob Simmons and I do agree he belongs on the list. I also agree Buck McKeon doesn't belong on the list, as his influence is marginal. I can't explain why, except that I agree with the perception by Gannett that Buck McKeon is more of a figurehead than a leader as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
I would have put Bob Work at 15, Mike Rogers at 25, and Susan Rice at 35. The reason is simple. First, Bob Work has changed the strategy discussion in Washington towards seapower. Second, Mike Rogers may have a prominent position in the House, but he has not exercised his authority to any degree by which we can say there is clear policy influence. Third, Susan Rice has no influence beyond her own community, never has had such influence, and has not demonstrated the charisma she ever will have such influence.
I think the top 10 are spot on accurate.
If we removed Bradley Manning, who would you replace on the list? I note in the "Who didn't make the list" page they list both Doctrine Man and Sailor Bob. I love Doctrine Man, he is great and if you use Facebook and don't follow Doctrine Man, I think you are missing out on something incredibly smart, but in my opinion Sailor Bob was the person who was left off for Bradley Manning.
So to protest the 1% failure rate of Gannett - who did a great job here btw - I have decided to make a Navy Top 50. With help from several Navy officers around the world and the good folks at CIMSEC, I hope to have the list ready for the New Year.
If you have suggestions or wish to comment on the list, the comments are open. Keep it professional, I don't want to spend my day being a conduct cop on the blog.