suffer the Potomac Flotilla
Before you watch the below clip, light a candle for poor Admiral Christopher Grady, USN. Here he is, a very serious man up for a very serious job, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – and yet here is a Senator who decides to invest her time with the Admiral – headed to the #2 position in our military as we face the greatest military challenge since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago, and … well …
I don't think that there is any good answer to this kind of question. While on first watch I gave him a B-, and I’ve instead decide to grade on PASS/FAIL and he gets a PASS.
This is a good moment to bring up a similar topic that we discussed last Thursday; the huge industry that is everything in the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity racket.
If you think in academia and some corporate positions are out of control in both number and cost – then you would pop a circuit breaker if you saw the tens, and DOD wide, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars spent on dedicated military and civilian positions, not to mention the infrastructure to support entire UIC dedicated to the subject, their staffs, travel, trainers, speakers, and assorted ancillary support to various “affinity” groups that base their membership, mission, and efforts specifically based on race, creed, color, or national origin … and sex … and gender … and whatever other approved group pops up that threatens to call people nasty names if they don’t endorse their agenda and … more importantly, billets and funding lines.
Some of these positions are written in law, some were created out of existing billet structure. They are all expensive in both real cost and opportunity cost. They grow every year because so far no group of leadership has been willing to say, “This is 2022, not 1972 … hold on here.” When I say leadership, I’m not fully referring to uniformed leadership. No. I’m mostly referring to civilian leadership appointed from both political parties.
Some day, and that day may not come for quite a while, we will have a chance to trim the commissariat down to a more manageable size. We will have to start with the portion of the nomenklatura who exist at will, so their billets can be recoded into something that is more useful, or better yet, taken as savings.
Once that is done, it will take people on House and Senate staffs who will look at what billets were forced on the services at one time or another and to give them a fresh re-look to make sure they are as a group right sized to the needs of the mission. That is a harder battle, but one that must be fought, as these billets are way too many for the requirements of the challenge. They add no value and there is no incentive for them to solve any problem – only to continue them or create new ones. Otherwise, why do they have their job?
Yes, the people who try to come after that rice bowl will be called nasty names – but by now, do those names really mean anything?
Should we have some Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity positions? Well, if we trained our officers correctly, that would be everyone’s job. Perhaps we need a few – properly defined and scoped – but we do not need the legion of these “advisors” soaking up parking spaces and six figure incomes by the Acela train-full.
The waste of uniformed personnel in such make-work billets is bad enough, but the larger concern is the legion of otherwise unemployable civilian diversity bullies infesting all echelons of command.
They remind me a bit of an observation from General Curtis LeMay, USAF (Ret.) 1968 book, “America is in Danger” in his chapter on civilian control of the military;
At the turn of the century the War Department was filled with military homesteaders who spent their entire careers in Washington. These officers became superb bureaucrats. Each branch chief of the Army had his own little self-perpetuating sinecure, completely out of touch with field conditions and operating in a sort of detached dream world.
Then came the rude awakening of the Spanish American War. Although not a very big war, it was snarled up beyond belief by the War Department. Without staff coordination, troops went without food, proper clothing, sanitation, and ammunition. When it was over, Elihu Root was appointed to find out what went wrong. It did not take him long to see that the headquarters homesteaders had lost touch with the Army. The remedy was simple. Washington tours of duty were curtailed. A four-year limit was established, then transfer to the field became mandatory. This “Manchu Law” remains in effect today. It was wise a military decision and a sensible solution to a serious organizational problem. Military headquarters in Washington have since been representative of true conditions in the filed simply because senior staff officers have recently served there.
However, now we have come full cycle. By civilianizing out military headquarters we have backed into the same condition which Elihu Root found in 1900. Civilians not only are not required to rotate to the field, they have meager, if any, military backgrounds in the first place. Thus they have a built-in detachment from the military establishment. They operate from an unrealistic ivory tower.
There is still another danger in the civilian hierarchy. This new bureaucracy, like an y other, develops internal loyalties and group objectives which may sometimes take on more significance than the remoter military needs. Also, its members are a good deal more vulnerable to political pressures than people in uniform. Civil positions frequently have political overtones, as do many of the decisions made by the incumbents.
That is why you have to understand the sea in DC people like Admiral Grady have to swim in when it comes to this area. They are awash in unaccountable bureaucrats who they cannot fire, reassign, or even discipline or direct. In a way, they have to work around them and in fear of them. They don’t care about and General or Flag Officer. They were there before they arrived and will be there after they leave. The commissariat have a higher calling.
At some point change will come … but until then, even ‘ole Sal understands the strong will do their will, and the weak must suffer what they must.
Trust me, there are some areas even full Admirals are very weak indeed. Just watch the video. You can almost see the life force being drained out of him.