Geez, who would’ve thought? Article by G. I. Wilson, USMC Ret.
This essay attempts to make it easier for you to identify the quality and character of military officers and civilian bureaucrats, to increase your awareness and recognition of careerism and its consequences. As Americans, we all must exercise more care and caution in our appraisal of our senior military officers and the Washington “suits” that exert dominating influence on the cost of defense and the conduct of American national security policy.
The Department of Defense (DOD) that I have observed all too closely for over three decades is an overgrown bureaucracy committed to standing still for, if not actively promoting, poorly conceived policy agendas and hardware programs funded and supported by Congress. Coupled to that is the task of attracting the blind loyalty of senior military and civilian actors on the Washington, D.C. stage. For the careerists in America’s national security apparatus, it is all about awarding contracts and personal advancement, not winning wars.
Careerists serve for all the wrong reasons. They weaken national defense, rob the military of its warrior ethos and drive away the very highly principled mavericks that we need to reverse the decay. This can only be remedied by rekindling the time honored principles of military service (i.e. duty, honor, country) among both officers and civilians.
What Is Careerism?
In the DOD today, standard bureaucratic behavior is focused on conniving with politically focused congressional advocates and their counterparts in industry and think tanks to advance selected hardware and policy agendas. Once the careerist generals, admirals, colonels and captains exit active military service, they perpetuate their inside baseball by re-materializing as government appointees, political candidates, DOD contractor shills, so-called Pentagon “mentors,” and network talking heads. All are raking in money, peddling influence, exerting pressure for vested interests, all the while collecting retired pay, healthcare, commissary privileges and more at taxpayer expense.
For example, Gen. Jim Jones, U.S. Marine Corps, ret., occupied a big chair in the White House as the president’s national security advisor. Adm. Joe Sestak, U.S. Navy, ret., went to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives seeking promotion to the U.S. Senate. Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. Army, ret., is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. Many others dot the boards of the big defense contractors. As author Bob Woodward points out in The War Within, many of the uniform-to-suits careerists made themselves cozy with political circles in Washington, D.C. in ways and to a degree that did not exist before 2001. As for the senior careerists in the ranks of the civilian bureaucracy, there is a similar variation of take-this-job-and-flip-it among public, academic and private sector positions. While it’s distasteful observing this in civilian quarters, it is the “self-fixation” of our top military leadership that this author finds most disturbing.
What is wrong with retired officers populating civilian government offices, industry and politics?