Joint Chiefs Line Up To Defend Budget Contraction By Kevin Baron


Defense hawks eager to break through President Obama’s austerity budget and post-war strategy for the military will face a formidable defense: the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As of Monday, all four service chiefs have gone public, lining up shoulder-to-shoulder to support their budget-saving and strategy-matching decisions as necessary and reasoned changes during a national economic crunch and in a changing world.

“Our nation is in the midst of a challenging economic environment that has forced the Marine Corps to make tough fiscal choices,” said Commandant Gen. James Amos, in a statement issued on Monday. “We are confident that we managed risk… while maintaining the high levels of readiness the nation has come to expect of its Marines.”

Amos and his colleagues have in measured tones long prepared their forces for leaner times. The Marines began a formal “force structure review” in late 2010 after Amos took office and began visiting troops around the globe to warn that the seemingly limitless spending of the past decade was coming to a close. “Our goal in this effort was to provide the American people with the most ready, capable, and cost-effective crisis response force our nation can afford,” Amos said.

Amos’s boss, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, has said he feels it is the military’s duty to scale down and live within economic realities, as must the rest of the nation. Two military officials told National Journal that the senior leadership understands and is willfully on board with this new strategy; there is no internal pushback claiming this is an unwanted, politically-driven budget slashing being forced on the Pentagon by President Obama.

The White House and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta largely credit Dempsey, a leadership and management studies buff, for making sure that the Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders were intimately involved in last fall’s strategic review and budget deliberations, several U.S. officials told National Journal this month. The result: buy-in.

“The creation of this strategy was inclusive and comprehensive,” argued Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, in a Pentagon briefing on Friday. “[Army] Secretary [John] McHugh and I were deeply involved in this unprecedented and collaborative process…. Accordingly, the time is strategically right to reduce the Army’s force structure.”

Opposing the uniformed-front will be a tough challenge. A series of highly orchestrated DOD media events during the January recesses — Obama personally issued the strategic guidance at the Pentagon and featured the military in his State of the Union speech, and DOD leaders held an elaborate, if redundant, “preview” of the budget request on Thursday — has given the administration time to make its case, frame the national security budget message, and take early ownership of the defense agenda. Obama’s reelection campaign now says he will run heavily on national security.

Congress doesn’t really get its fair shot until budget hearings begin two weeks from now. Still, some conservative lawmakers and off-Hill think tankers — not to mention GOP presidential candidates — are not waiting, or backing down.

“These cuts reflect President Obama’s vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform,” said House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., last week. “This is a vision at odds with the president’s empty praise on Tuesday evening, and one I fundamentally disagree with.”

McKeon’s vice chairman, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Obama’s budget was filled with “serious dangers and illusory savings.”

Off the hill, the battle flags are raised.

“Despite… Dempsey’s protestations to the contrary, this budget request is a clear pathway towards dismantling America’s military supremacy,” wrote Mackenzie Eaglen, resident national security fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. AEI, the Heritage Foundation, and Foreign Policy Initiative are challenging the administration on national security with their own united front, called “Defending Defense,” issuing memos such as “Danger! Hollow Force Ahead.”

On Monday, the group issued its own reaction to DOD’s proposals, giving not an inch on austerity: Obama (the statement makes no reference to the uniformed leadership) will “slash” the budget, is “giving the pink slip” to troops, “puts our military at risk while it is still in harm’s way,” and “leaves devastating gaps in manpower.”

“America’s military and the citizens it serves deserve better,” the group argues.

Defense Strategy and Military Planning for an Era of Persistent Conflict


This gallery contains 11 photos.

By Robert Tomes Journal Article | Jan 26 2012 – 5:17am Editor’s Note:  This is a thought-provoking offering from Dr. Robert Tomes.  In particular, his generational interpretation of attitudes towards strategy and military options will generate some spirited discussion.  While he draws … Continue reading

May the Best Ideas Win: By J. William DeMarco

Eisenhower took office at a time of wars both cold and hot. One of his first actions was a complete rethinking of foreign policy. Our next president could learn from Ike’s example. By J. William DeMarco. 

Link to published article in Stanford’s Hoover Digest:

Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.
—Winston Churchill
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
—Aldous Huxley

One spring afternoon in 1953, only a few months after his inauguration, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat with his secretary of state in the White House Solarium Room, watching as the world turned toward communism. After a victorious campaign in which Eisenhower had stressed his pledge to form and pursue a coherent, effective national strategy for the new “Cold War,” the president and John Foster Dulles were considering their options. World War II had pulled America through the looking glass: a wartime ally, the Soviet Union, was now an adversary. Britain had yielded its role as the dominant Western power to the United States. The postwar globe was an unstable landscape of democratic and totalitarian states; American troops at that moment were part of one such ideological and military clash in Korea. Moreover, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had died only a few days before, and Eisenhower was pondering the implications of that death as well as the rising tide of Soviet power in Eastern Europe.

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11 Reminders For Busy Leaders: Just Say NO To Status Quo

Found these on Terry Starbucker’s site several months ago…still like ’em

Learn From History (So You Don’t Repeat It)

Be A Storyteller & Paint The Big Picture

Listen (Much) More Than You Talk

Training, Training, Training, Teach, Teach, Teach

Good Process Breeds Better Improvisation

Measure What You Manage, And Keep Raising The Bar

Fear Not Mistakes, For They Create The Best Opportunities

Answer the “Why” Before They Ask

Your Ideas Aren’t Always The Best Ones

This is NOT About You

If It Isn’t Fun, It Isn’t Worth a …….

Do Drones Undermine Democracy? By PETER W. SINGER

Do Drones Undermine Democracy?

IN democracies like ours, there have always been deep bonds between the public and its wars. Citizens have historically participated in decisions to take military action, through their elected representatives, helping to ensure broad support for wars and a willingness to share the costs, both human and economic, of enduring them.

In America, our Constitution explicitly divided the president’s role as commander in chief in war from Congress’s role in declaring war. Yet these links and this division of labor are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined.

Just 10 years ago, the idea of using armed robots in war was the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. Today, the United States military has more than 7,000 unmanned aerial systems, popularly called drones. There are 12,000 more on the ground. Last year, they carried out hundreds of strikes — both covert and overt — in six countries, transforming the way our democracy deliberates and engages in what we used to think of as war.

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19 Short Bible Verses for the Commander/Leader

As a Squadron Commander I began collecting Bible verses to help in both enlightening and challenging times and I continue to turn to these often.  No matter the season of life–reviewing these versus creates a sense of peace, understanding, and presence from the Lord.  Just thought I’d share… please let me know of others…

(Matt 6:34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Seemed to help to add my name to this one…
(Matt 11:28-30) “Come to me, Bill when you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you Bill and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

(Matt 5:16) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

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