The Best Defense

Sharp on defense budget: We're taking risks with ground forces, so it would be prudent to plan for ways to rebuild them

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on March 5, 2014.

One of the best people I know on analyzing the defense budget is Travis Sharp, and he delivers as usual in his new brief. He concludes that the United States is taking some risks by cutting its ground forces, and so should study different ways to regenerate ground forces quickly. Given this situation, Sharp, who lives up to his surname, writes:

DOD could add more substance to the debate by studying transformative models for generating ground forces, including a progressive- or tiered-readiness system. Tiered readiness has a bad reputation because it is often blamed for past U.S. military failures. However, critics often overlook the fact that these failures had many causes, including significant strategic errors by civilian political leaders.

Center of Military History/U.S. Army

The Best Defense

Mattis for Marine commandant (and one captain's account of Amos being booed)

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally appeared on February 18, 2014.

Given the problems facing the Marine Corps, it seems to me that a smart move would be for President Obama to make James Mattis the Marine commandant. He has only been retired for a short while, and he has an impeccable reputation for integrity. The move would be both popular with Marines and the right thing. That's a solid combination. And it would be the right thing to do by Mattis, too.

Meanwhile, a recently resigned Marine captain writes something that I find stunning about a service that prides itself on its discipline and cohesion:

I've been watching my former Commandant's troubles with a combination of shame and grotesque humor. I have nothing groundbreaking to share, just an anecdote. At my last Marine Corps ball, this past November, after returning from one of the last full-battalion deployments to Helmand, I watched (again with half frown, half stupid grin) 900 Marines and some of their dates actually boo Gen. Amos when he appeared in his annual video.... this is just one story, but I'd have to guess he's the first commandant to be mocked and hated by his own Marines to such a degree. I resigned my commission because of my complete lack of faith in the Corps' administrative processes, and I definitely will not be disappointed when Gen. Amos departs, but at this point it's all just gotten embarrassing.

Official USMC photo by Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly