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.