Saturday, December 2, 2006

The Five Sided Blunder

What is the brass in the Pentagon thinking about how to exit Iraq? What is the military going to do? Actually it matters little as the Pentagon isn’t run by the brass, they only think they do and any resemblance to military the Pentagon is not. It is dominated by civilians and is run in accordance with the Dilbert Principle … as is the rest of government and corporate America. The least qualified is propelled to the top spot with special attention in suppressing the more talented.

The Pentagon has five sides inside its five sided edifice. And the first of these are the Iron Butterflies, the clerical staff of civil servants most of whom are typically short, round, and female largely of Black or Hispanic origin and before not only Angels but Demons fear to tread. Any field soldier who dare brusquely before them risks career perdition. Not to be fooled with, but are amenable to gifts as tribute and laudatory salutations as in the days of the Greek Gods.

The heart and soul as well as nervous system are the Super Grades, GS 14 and up, who form the permanent cadre pretending to be deputy assistants whose long tenure and file cabinets hold every conceivable reorganization devised by man. Many of them have military service and have not updated their military experience which in outdate form continues to surface and resurface with new names impervious to meaningful modification. The Army’s light and fast Modular Brigades have resurfaced as the resurrection of the Fifties “Battle Groups” originally designed for the “atomic” battlefield.

The Brass, the military officers rotated in and out of the Pentagon are primarily there to get a ticket punched, and have their homes in Northern Virginia refurbished. Many a sound field soldier has met his or her Waterloo, rather Cervantean Windmills, when a brave attempt is made to use the Military Decision Process in the face of “staff coordination” a westernized version of Nemawashi, the Japanese method of consensus building. In fact concurrence or non concurrence by a Pentagon milicrat is called a chop, after the personalized stick used in the Far East in lieu of a signature. Unlike Nemawashi, where all must agree after all is said and said again, the Pentagon version is sabotaged by truly non concurring despite concurrence.

Only the Three Star Brassnik has enough stroke to over ride the Super Grades but they too ride off into the Fairway in time.

Outside the Pentagon’s walls are the Civilian Contractors, including the Beltway Bandits and the Merchants of Destruction ….the Defense Indusry/

Lurking in the forests along the Beltway are the Bandits who serving one master or another to exploit fissures between Nemawashi and the Military Decision Making Process, by doing the staff work that internal politics denies to Pentagonian sufficient energy to do. Been there done that.

A truly significant element equal in theoretical relevance is are the Merchants of Destruction, the Defense Industry, the industrial half of the Military-Industrial Clique. Far from sinister, they are the font of ingenuity and source of many of America’s mightiest weapons. The military manufacturing and repair capabilities are experts at tweaking their best, but it takes the Defense Industry to come up with the original. Many of our best systems have been the result of visionary work done contrary to Pentagon (War/Navy Departments) desires like the P51, P47, P38 while many of the Pentagon’s creations have been less than expected.

To be sure, there is a dark and lighter side to each of the five sides, with corrupt manufacturers, and bloody fools, as well as visionary civilians (theoretically at least).

The last of the five sides of the Pentagon are the Political Appointees, like Strange Robert and Field Marshal von Rumsfeld whose maladministration of the Pentagon calls for an immediate reevaluation of the suitability of such over aged adolescents as captains of the national fate. The role of the Political Appointee is to over-ride the internal resistance that any organization has to outside interference such as the will of the Elected Leader. Hopefully the under-qualified spend their time on cosmetic changes that serve to make brownie points with their Party, or as minor political interference on behalf of some contributor or friend of the inner circle.

The creation of a bloated Defense Department as a buffer between the Congress and the Services cannot be considered and unqualified success. In the Old Days, the Congress was involved in deciding such issues as battle ships versus carriers versus subs versus aircraft and in fact used to determine the military order of battle as a matter of law. The last time this was done was in 1940.

Lest one forget, the Constitution gives the President the power as Commander in Chief of the forces created by the Congress. This includes weapons, staffing, and “regulations” aka doctrine. Congress has been buffered out of this primary responsibility by their creation of DoD. Today the Pentagon asserts that Congress doesn’t have the power to determine what systems it needs. See Article 1, Sections 8 and 10, and the Second Amendment to see who has the power to do what.

America used to lose a lot of battles, but lose no wars before DoD was created. The record of winning wars isn’t as distinctive today since then. And the reasons are inherent in the internal dynamics of the five sided blunder house … the Pentagon.

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