Current Affairs

New CJCS nominee Dunford - "Not a Cyber Expert"

President Obama has nominated current US Marine Corps Commandant General Joe "Fighting Joe" Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).  As such he would be the President's top military advisor and would replace General Martin Dempsey.  The anecdotal reporting from multiple vectors is that General Dunford is the right pick and that the President should be lauded for this selection. #CreditWhereDue   

General Dunford's a "proven combat leader who had distinguished himself as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in 2013-2014 as foreign forces shifted responsibility for fighting the Taliban to Afghan troops. Dunford also commanded a Marine regiment early in the Iraq war."  h/t:  Washington Post

With all the big ideas that the JCS has to wrestle with, I found this article on Dunford a particularly odd take on the nomination.  In it, The Hill's Cory Bennett opines that the President opted for a "strategist" rather than a "cyber expert" to execute the recently published DOD Cyber Strategy.  Apparently, despite all his other qualifications, including being the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the cyber zealot class things SecDef Ashton Carter was selected for his cyber expertise.  (He was a physicist, not a computer guy, but what do I know?)  The article presents a view point that a number of recent DOD appointments were "cyber" focused.  (Umm, ok..)

President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next top military officer, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., bucks a recent trend of cyber-focused appointments.

“He’s not a cyber expert,” said Peter Metzger, a former CIA intelligence officer and Marine who served with Dunford on four occasions. “But he doesn’t need to be.”
 
Cyber military specialists believe the Obama administration is seeking an operational expert and relationship builder, not a technological savant, to carry out Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recently unveiled cyber vision.
 
“They went with a strategist,” said Chris Finan, a former military intelligence officer and adviser to the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. “An operational artisan.”

I agree with Metzgar and Finian that there is a need for a "strategist" in the role of CJCS.  I am amused at the degree to which Bennett rates the Cyber Strategy on the Chairman's agenda. 

While cyberspace in  undoubtedly important, apparently Mr Bennett is unaware that there are two able four-stars (USSTRATCOM's Commander as well as Commander of USCYBERCOM/DirNSA) that are more than capable of focusing on the the implementation of the cyber strategy.  And, if one understands the strategy, every Service Chief and all of the other Combatant Commands will also be keenly focused on this, particularly in terms of policy and resourcing.   The Chairman has much larger fish to fry, including the "pivot to Asia" (however that manifests itself), the continuing struggles with ISIS/AQ et al, and Iran's territorial ambitions - as well as a shrinking force, an aging fleet, and a recalcitrant air power Service insisting on going their own way.  

Cyberspace is important, but it isn't the Chairman's biggest issue.


 

 


"The Wall", "The Shield", "The Team" -The Latest Batch of Commercials Take a Queue from the USMC

While I appreciate that the Marines stopped using lava monsters in their commercials long ago, they always tend to have the best ones.  Here's the latest USMC commercial...and, as usual, no mention of benefits, jobs, or college, only being a part of something greater than yourself..."The Wall":

 And here the Army talks about sports...or do they? "The Team":

And the Navy, after foundering on a Global Force for Good campaign, has also followed suit with "To get to you, they have to go through us...". Here is "The Shield":

So Air Force, it's been a year since the "Its what we do" commercial...what you got?!


Jordan Allies with the Tribes

This is the policy likeliest to succeed, provided that you're willing to accept the secession of Western Iraq.  Our government is opposed to that, but I see no reason why we should be at this point.  Baghdad has proven it was, and remains, unwilling to treat the Sunni population justly.  It held together while the US remained in Iraq to enforce the peace, and perhaps in time if we had stayed they would have learned to trust each other and work together.  We left, and the Shi'a led government chose the path of fear.  

It is that very dynamic that allowed Daesh, the so-called "Islamic State," to spread rapidly through Western Iraq.  They are horrible people, though, and are preferable for Iraq's Sunnis only to the hostile and corrupt government in Baghdad.  I would not be surprised to see a Sunni kingdom built around one of the larger tribal groups emerge from this conflict, a state perhaps like Jordan itself:  not perfect but better than what they have now, and a buffer against Iranian efforts to dominate the Levant.


Marine Sniper - Rob Richards Laid to Rest

Article here by Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post...

His three combat tours in Afghanistan had been boiled down to a 38-second video clip, played and replayed on YouTube more than a million times. In it, Rob Richards and three other Marine Corps snipers are seen urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters they had just killed.

“Total dismay” were the words then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used to describe the video when it surfaced on the Internet in January 2012. “Utterly deplorable,” agreed then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Richards’s career in the military was finished.

More than two years later — long after the rest of the country had moved on to other scandals — Richards, 28, died at home and alone from an accidental painkiller overdose...

Now an ammunition can carrying his cremated remains sat on the table of a hotel bar in Arlington, Va., as his family, friends and fellow Marines swirled around it....

Read the whole thing.  

Godspeed.