A Strategic Clarion Call: Part I

June 12, 2009

Looking at my own intellectual journey, I find that creativity usually comes in short bursts that punctuate long periods of reading, reflection, and hard work.  About two weeks ago the National Security Blogosphere saw a great burst of creativity by the mind of Zenpundit.  In this post (read every word!), Zenpundit identified several issues that the last couple of years of operations in Iraq have brought to the fore: Read the rest of this entry »

All: I’ve been busy, but will return…

June 8, 2009

Greetings, all. It’s been quite a while since I last wrote anything of value here, but I’ll restart blogging regularly soon. My active duty life has caused me to be quite busy with other commitments, not to mention my involvement in other projects…

At any rate, I’ll return in due time.

In the mean time, I’m crystallizing some thoughts about how the Marine Corps ought to refit and position itself with so much change happening in the armed forces today. Among the great issues that I’m thinking about are:

1) What is the role of Special Operations Forces in the Marine Corps, and what is the role of the Marine Corps in the SOF community?

2) To what extent should we take recent lessons in Iraq and attempt to apply them to other conflicts?

3) The Marine Corps has been functioning as essentially a second land army over the last seven years. Should it return to the sea?

4) Should the Marine Corps be a COIN force? Shock troops? Leviathan? SysAdmin?

5) How should the Marine Corps cope with the upcoming QDR?

…And many other questions.

So sit tight…I’ll return.

Semper Fidelis,

Now Available: SE’s Reading List

January 3, 2009

I have written before on the nature of my personal reading program. Since I published that post I have received email and blog comments (both at my personal blog, and at Chicago Boyz) from various people requesting a copy of my reading list. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future Republican

November 5, 2008

There are three types of Republicans in the world:

1) Northeastern. These are the Rockefeller Republicans. They tend to be internationalists and fiscally conservative. This movement is all but dead. They were compelled to leave the party by the much more socially conservative Southern Republicans. George H.W. Bush was a NE Republican.

2) Southern. These are the social conservatives. They tend to support a strong national defense. Fiscal discipline is only a talking point.  This movement is still alive, but was repudiated both in the congressional elections in 2006, as well as the general elections of 2008. George W. Bush was a Southern Republican.

3) Western. The Western Republican is the Republican of libertarian leanings, generally favoring non-intrusive government in terms of social issues, and also favoring fiscal discipline. They tend to oppose nationalization of anything. They often, but not always, favor a strong national defense. Reagan was a western republican. This is the future of the Republican party, because the Western Republican can capitalize on the whims of the Independent Voter, who is usually fiscally conservative, libertarian socially, and for a strong national defense.

The Northeastern Republican was the type of Republican your grandfather was.  The Southern Republican was just beat up in a brawl yesterday and is on life support.

The Western Republican is the Republican of the future.  When the Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika overplay their hand in the next 2-4 years, conservatives and conservate-leaning libertarians will strike, and will reestablish a mandate to govern.

Crossposted at Chicago Boyz.

History Will Be Written

September 27, 2008

Metanote: The Checkrids went swimmingly. Thanks for the well-wishes by all who sent them. Lately SE has been exceptionally busy with training and consequently posting here has become sporadic. Apologies.

In the coming decades a history will be written explaining:

1) How the Greatest Generation endured the Greatest Generation, fought and won World War II, and then rebuilt society in the US and in Western Europe. The United States was the greatest creditor nation in history at that point, and the sacrifices of that generation were bestowed on the Baby Boomers in the form of material riches available to the middle class on the scale what what was available to kings and emperors centuries before.

2) The Baby Boomers took that rebuilt world, full of riches, and squandered them. The United States became the greatest debtor nation in history. A strange brew of individualistic license combined with identity politics worked to destroy the bonds that were painstakingly welded in the previous generation. The welfare state grew. Materialism replaced religion and erudition. Most of all, a sense of entitlement overcame the Baby Boomers, like a rich kid too eager to get their father’s hard-earned inheritance. This entitlement was paid for by going into debt.

3) The history will be written that the debts of our fathers were bequeathed to Generations X & Y. The Bailout of the Baby Boomers was not paid by the Baby Boomers, but by their children. In this sense, the Baby Boomers sold their children into a form of slavery.

I cannot say how that debt will be paid. I know it will be paid, and it will be paid by my cohort.

I can now only hope that my generation’s standards of living will decline. I wish this so that we may pay off the debts of our fathers and mothers, so we may bequeath this country, the greatest in history, to our children with less debt, and thus more freedom.

Sacrifice is what brings real riches. May my generation sacrifice all we can.

The Checkride

August 21, 2008

Next Monday, weather permitting, I will start a three day period containing three consecutive check rides. For pilots, that’s not a fun series of days. The checkrides themselves are rather vanilla in flavor: conduct rather boring autorotations, normal and steep approaches, demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures, perform some turns in holding, and a few instrument approaches. However, should I fail a checkride, the ramifications for me are severe, with consequences including the potential of losing my flying status.

This leads me to refocus on the purpose of the checkride. The purpose of a checkride is to establish whether I am capable of meeting a given aviation standard. That standard does not exist in a vacuum. The standard exists so I may properly employ the taxpayer’s aircraft in a tactically responsible and effective way, in direct support of other American and allied forces. It is not about me and my piloting skills. It’s about the people who need my support, and my obligations as a professional military officer, the Constitution, and the taxpayer’s money.

Should I fail a checkride, I ought to demand appropriate action be taken against me, as that would be the only responsible, professional thing to expect. It would be a failure of the professional ethic for me to retain flight status with a checkride failure.

My flying career is of little consequence in the scheme of things. I am of equally little consequence. However, my obligations to my fellow Marines, and to my country, are burdensome. It is with these obligations in mind, not my personal fortunes, that I prepare for the checkrides.

Needless to say, I probably won’t be posting much next week.


August 16, 2008

Yesterday I spoke to a younger Marine officer. He was a first lieutenant and a student naval aviator (flight student) who was clearly flustered with his performance on recent flights. I was trying give him a little morale boost while telling him to watch his bearing, as looking flustered and stressed does not inspire confidence in your peers, superiors, or subordinates.

He then confessed to me why he joined the Marines: To become a pilot. I told him not to say that ever again. I cannot answer to the purity of his motivations, save for the fact that in the Marines, and especially in the officer corps, it is “not about you.” The second you start thinking that it is about you is the second you start to fail in your obligations to the Constitution, to the mission, and to your Marines.

His self-motivation is somewhat dangerous: There are countless avenues by which on can become a pilot, and becoming a Marine to become a pilot is perhaps one of the toughest routes to wings that one can undertake. Yet he’s willing to go that distance for himself, and himself alone. This speaks to incredible selfishness. He needs to be watched.

Hopefully, when the pressure is on, at night, with dogshit visibility, and assholes shooting, and he’s flying a casualty evacuation mission, he will have the fortitude to deny his selfishness and continue the mission, even though it might cost him his life. The Marine Corps, after all, is not always great for self preservation, but we will look after each other.

Stewing–Bumped; see newer posts below.

August 5, 2008

My anger has been stewing. The honor of the the officer corps has been weakened.

Over the weekend, Galrahn at Information Dissemination broke the news that the new DDG-1000 Zumwalt class of destroyers were designed without capability for area air defense, a fatal flaw in the design of the ship. I have been silent on this topic for a couple of days, hoping my anger to settle somewhat, but it hasn’t.

This is a massive failure of the American officer corps.

Read the rest of this entry »


August 5, 2008

From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to be led aside by anything; and cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as in illness; and a just mixture in the moral character of sweetness and dignity to do what was set before me. I observed that everybody believed that he thought as he spoke, and that in all that he did he never had any bad intention; and he never showed amazement and surprise, and was never in a hurry, and never put off doing a thing, nor was perplexed nor dejected, nor did he ever laugh to disguise his aggravation, nor, on the other hand, was he ever passionate or suspicious. He was accustomed to do acts of beneficence and was ready to forgive, and was free from all falsehood; and he presented the appearance of a man who could not be diverted from right rather than of a man who had been improved. I observed, too, that no man could ever think that he was despised by Maximus, or ever venture to think that himself a better man. He had also the art of being humorous in an agreeable way.

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations, I:15

There are few figures like Maximus alive today. Where do we find them?

I think many of them are found in our resolute, obedient, and loyal enlisted force.  They do their required tasks without fanfare and drama.  Their stiff upper lips are tribute to their virtue.

There are surely other figures in the mold of Maximus in the world.  Where are they?

Excellent Discussion @ OSD!

August 4, 2008

And that’s not the Office of the Secretary of Defense! It’s Opposed Systems Design, and we’re talking about Tom Barnett’s proposed bifurcating of the military.

Check it out here and join the discussion.