The Best Defense

The Stanley purge

I'm hearing that the new Pentagon under secretary of Defense for personnel, Clifford Stanley, is defenestrating people left and right. Latest to get the heave, yesterday, was Noel Koch, the guy who was running the Wounded Warrior program.

Anyone wanna shed some light on what is going on?

The rest of you, remember Pentagon politics rule one: Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, and people who understand where power resides talk personnel policy. For example, if in the 1980s you wanted to get the services to send better people to joint billets, you'd make "joint time" a prerequisite for promotion to flag rank.

5:30 UPDATE: I asked for more info, so Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell called to offer his explanation. It looks like the purges are going to continue in the Pentagon personnel office. Defense Secretary Gates believes that office is in "desperate need of a wholesale reorganization," Morrell said, and has given Stanley "wide authority to revamp it from top to bottom."

Morrell added, "There probably will be more changes in the offing."

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The Best Defense

Is the Army too focused on COIN?

West Point's Col. Gentile says so. This officer in Afghanistan indicates no:

That task is more difficult because the 1/12 battalion hasn't exactly had a terrific rotation in Afghanistan. "We've been asked to do a lot of different things," says Major Korey Brown, the battalion's executive officer. "They detached us from our brigade, which is headquartered in eastern Afghanistan, and sent us out here to Zhari district to be storm troopers -- that's what General Vance called us -- and that's what we were trained for, that's what we like to do.To find, fix and finish the enemy." But the mission changed with the arrival of General Stanley McChrystal, as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in the summer of 2009. "It's not about how you engage the enemy so much now. It's how you engage your district governor," says Brown. "That's a huge change for guys like us -- call us knuckle draggers or whatever, but we weren't trained to do COIN."

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