Anyone who can easily pass bi-partisan scrutiny in this day and age must have something going. When that same individual seems to be actually good at his job, that’s a bonus!
The new SecDef is just such a person. His confirmation sailed through unlike the turbulent experience of some of his predecessors and he wasted no time to head to ‘the sound of guns’. While we hope the SecDef doesn’t hear any guns, he certainly headed to the biggest trouble spot.
In the days of videoconferences it is quite reassuring to see the SecDef meet with his key players live. There is no substitute for person-to-person contact. While video conferences may be cost effective, they cannot provide the venue to size some one up and forge the kind of trust that is a part of combat operations.
I’m also supportive of changing the public face of the Pentagon. Rear Admiral John Kirby was a successful Pentagon spokesperson. However, he wore a uniform. There is a certain psychology at work in press conferences. The Commander-in-Chief is an elected civilian and those serving in the military are bound to carry out his lawful orders whether or not those orders are agreed with.
Military personnel consider ourselves straight shooters and I personally believe that having a civilian in the position of defending political defense decisions makes a great deal of sense.
Getting back to the SecDef, The Washington Post (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/carter-summons-us-military-commanders-diplomats-to-kuwait/2015/02/22/0d06c36e-baab-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html) article addresses the meeting in Kuwait. Attendees are a combination of military and diplomatic personnel – the team on the ground.
As one ‘anonymous’ staffer was quoted: ““He’s just the kind of guy who likes to dig.” Let’s hope that the digging makes its way to the influence battlefield.
(Photo source: http://www.defense.gov/dodcmsshare/homepagephoto/2015-02/hires_150223-D-NI589-110.JPG; Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, meets with the emir of Kuwait Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah in Kuwait City, Feb. 23, 2015. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett)