The Best Defense

Meditating on Bergdahl (II): A ‘Jonah’ for some, and a provocation at Parris Island

Here's a good piece by a former Marine officer.

More here. What strikes me is that the Bergdahl episode captures a lot of the most difficult aspects of military service.

Professor Peter Feaver untangles the politics of the issue here, and comes away more in sorrow than anger.

Also, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis said that getting Bergdahl out takes a trump card out of the hands of Taliban leaders. That is especially credible because Mattis is hardly given to carrying water for the Obama administration.  Which clearly needs help in selling this prisoner exchange. To quote Ryan Evans, "It is the national security equivalent of the Obamacare website -- an idea that may have seemed sensible, but suffered from terrible execution."

Meanwhile, emotions ran high outside the front gate to the Marine boot camp at Parris Island, where the Bergdahl deal was being protested. A high-ranking sergeant major is in a bit of trouble after taking a campaign hat (AKA DI's hat or Smokey Bear hat) off a protestor. The same sergeant major was in a big fight north of Fallujah back in October 2006. He "went to three different posts to supervise the Marines, bring ammunition to Marines who needed it, and fight the enemy himself," Stars & Stripes reported.

The sergeant major has resigned his position. It would be a shame if this Marine NCO were to wind up being punished more than Bergdahl is. 

via Wikimedia Commons

The Best Defense

Vandergriff: Tyson’s book on Gant is a ‘must read’ for military professionals

Don Vandegriff, always an interesting military thinker, writes in a review of Ann Scott Tyson's book about Maj. Jim Gant that it is a "must read" for military professionals. He sees the book as an indictment of Army culture, especially its personnel system, writing that:

". . . in the true test of a military professional, Gant succeeded in his mission and in doing so, he made some military leaders look bad because they were more focused on routine, process and remaining in FOBs (Forwarding Operating Bases) than doing what it took to win. Jim even received an email from his commander prescribing the length of facial hair of Special Forces soldiers while he was in the middle of making his plan work in combat!"

". . . [Gant's] approach countered military leaders' operational tempos focused on short-term data accomplishment and clear cut order. Therefore, the establishment had to find a way to get rid of Jim Gant before he was too successful, and it rocked everyone's comfortable boat."

"The underlying message of the book is also about the culture of the Army, particularly how powerful the personnel system has become, while creating an unadaptive and self-serving culture. The personnel system sees war as an aberration to the prescribed timeline and management system it has grown very comfortable with, so much so, that it will not even adapt by selecting, promoting and putting in place those individuals that have proven to excel at the very thing the profession claims to prepare for in order to win those wars."