Wednesday, April 30, 2008
story/photo Lance Cpl. Paul M. Torres
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
For exceptional meritorious service during assigned missions from 28 February 2006 to 9 February 2007. The personnel of I MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (FWD) transformed the future of the Anbar Province of Iraq while combating a brutally persistent insurgent threat across a battle space spanning more than 50,000 square miles. This multi-national force of more than 33,000 men and women redefined the concept of valor to meet the unique demands of counterinsurgency operations; combining selfless courage in the face of a lethal enemy with unprecedented restraint and military effectiveness. Displaying unparalleled tenacity, Marines, sailors, and soldiers confronted insurgents daily, killing more than 2000 and capturing/detaining at least 6600 while sustaining 308 friendly killed-in-action and 3134 wounded. Boldly moving to deny insurgent footholds, I MEF FWD systematically established combat outposts in the most dangerous sections of nine critical cities, and then used physical barriers and biometric technology to maintain control of the population and deny insurgents freedom of movement. I MEF FWD developed innovative aviation techniques to put the enemy on the defensive, harnessed technology to save lives, achieved a 76% casualty return to duty rate through superior medical services and leveraged all manpower assets for success. I MEF FWD enhanced stability, rapidly expanded the size and effectiveness of the Iraqi Security Forces and set the conditions for improved Iraqi self-governance and economic growth. By their outstanding courage, aggressive fighting spirit and untiring devotion to duty, the men and women of I MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (FWD) reflected great credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
In yet another display of innovative thinking that contributed to success along the Euphrates River, the Dam Security Unit, manned primarily by Marines from Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion was given an additional tasking. In addition to their original mission of protecting the strategically vital dam at Haditha, they were tasked to become a broader resource as an interdiction force patrolling the Euphrates. This new tactic quickly paid dividends as the
Dam Support Unit Marines uncovered over 60 weapons caches on islands and riverbanks, performed Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure operations on more than 700 Iraqi boats, interdicted Anti-Iraqi Forces' movement on the river, and generally denied the insurgents another area where they had once maneuvered freely.
An added benefit of this new Dam Support Unit capability was providing commanders with an additional option for movement of forces around the hazardous operating area, to include covert insertion of forces. DSU-3 conducted operations over more than 430 kilometers of the Euphrates River from its bases at Haditha and Ramadi, supporting battalions throughout I MEF FWD with craft and organic ground combat element.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Shortest Retirement Speech first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“In the last two months, the Gaineys have been through a lot, and we realized something: Time is very short. And what we have decided today is to give your time back to you. So thank you very much.”
Friday, April 25, 2008
By Cpl. Billy Hall
Thursday, April 24, 2008
We, the North Korean refugees from the Thailand Immigration Detention Center and the all U.S. destined North Korean refugees, present a letter which we have written from the bottom of our hearts to the United States of America, a nation that stands as the symbol of protection of world peace and safety and as the model of free democracy and human rights protection.
For an anachronistic rise of communism and a long-term authoritarian ambition, the regime of Kim Jong Il continues to suppress the lives and the human rights of its own people. We are North Korean refugees who have escaped from this regime, experiencing hardships and suffering in our long journey, having run until where we are now in Thailand, all in search of true freedom and happiness that is full of human rights.
Finally, we are now in a place where there is no threat to our lives. Through a lawful process and interviews, we have now been given the opportunity to freely choose a country of our choice.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to the United States of America and President George
W. Bush for creating and enforcing national policies and many other lawful and practical tasks in order that we, who once lived without the protection of basic human rights nor the freedom to see, hear or say things and lived like slaves, would see this opportunity for an asylum for freedom and resettlement.
Since birth, we have familiarized ourselves with the term “American wild-dogs,” learning that the main cause for our lives full of unhappiness and pain was America. It is truly an unbelievable reality now that we, who were helpless and lost, have now found true freedom through the protection and help from the United Stats of America.
Through our daily personal experiences, we have come to learn more of the truth to the history that was once taught to us. We have clearly realized the evil deceit of Kim Jong Il’s regime, which has been covering the eyes and ears of the people from learning the real history. And we have come to know that the U.S.A, a place we only thought of as evil, is the North Korean refugees’ real safe haven and a place with the fullness of true freedom.
For all these reasons, we have declined the thankful invitation from the Republic of Korea where they welcome us each with a house to live in, resettlement money and warm brotherly love. We have instead boldly chosen a journey to the United States of America, where everything still seems so new and unfamiliar.
We realize the challenge of the language barrier, and we know that it is a place without any employment guarantee programs for refugees. Still, we have not faltered in our decision to go to the U.S.A, not because we are selfish beings who will be satisfied with the newly found freedom and happiness while forgetting our past lives, but because we desire to live our lives as fighters for human rights and true freedom and to rescue our North Korean brothers and sisters who are still living in the unhappiness and pain that Kim Jong Il’s dictator regime has caused.
A land barren of the freedom of thought and religion, the living hell that is North Korea where worship of the dictator is enforced – it is in this place that people do not know about the almighty God. It is in this place that people live empty lives and fall down the spiral of crimes. It is in this place that the people have been neglected from this world.
The people of North Korea are certainly God’s people. They are supposed to be able to praise the almighty Father God and receive the love and grace that God has blessed unto them. But why, then, are our North Korean citizens the only ones who cannot receive this blessing?
For these reasons, we have escaped from the land of dictatorship, and we have longed to go to America, the land of God.
Of course, we are not oblivious of the challenges of going to America.
We have been waiting here living an isolated prison life, waiting without a time limit or a guarantee. There have been many North Korean refugees who became exhausted in their wait, changed their minds and gave up their journey to America. And now, it is only about one among a hundred people who will maybe choose this journey to America. Do you know how much patience and persistence is needed for this journey?
Through the life of Jesus Christ, we have learned that true happiness comes from the greatest suffering. And compared to the pain that Jesus Christ went through before dying, we realize that a few years of waiting in prison is not a huge amount of suffering.
However, the most discouraging part of it all is that even the hardest journey can be reached only if there is a destination, but for us refugees waiting to go to the U.S.A, we see no definite destination.
Two years have passed since we came to Thailand, and we are all exhausted from waiting. Some people who arrived after us have not gone through a proper interview yet, and they wait hopelessly in prison without even having properly registered in the list for U.S. destined refugees.
Among the U.S. destined North Korean refugees, there are people suffering from pneumonia, a patient with a broken leg, and even a family with a toddler. There is no real place to sit here; we are deeply suffering in this confined prison cell.
North Korean refugees who are waiting in the local detention centers have not seen sunlight for over a year and a half, and their malnourishment has caused them to have the disease rickets. They are withering away.
Though we are the same people, the North Korean refugees destined to go to the Republic of Korea are continuously and regularly being processed to South Korea with the active support and aid from its government. On the other hand, we, who are destined to go to America, are completely neglected and hopelessly waiting away without anyone’s interest or help.
It is hard to understand for what fault, for what wrong we did, and for what reason we must continue to suffer.
That we must continue to waste our lives waiting in suffering is hard to understand. We escaped, risking our lives and facing death, and have ran until we arrived in Thailand in order to find freedom and a way to live. Why have we become prisoners here in a detention center where the United Nations is present? Why are we to go through a prisoner trial? Why are we charged to pay a fine, and thrown into prison for being unable to pay the fine? The South Korean government neglects us for the reason that the United States of America will take care of us since we are U.S. destined refugees. The Thai government puts the responsibility of the processing on the United States. The U.S. Embassy avoids any responsibility or fault by saying they have not received an approval from Thailand. How is it that even after the inspection process, it has now been two years and we still have not gone to America? For over a half a year, some of us have not had a proper interview nor have we passed through the initial registration process. Filled with conviction and hope, we had chosen the journey to America. But it is hard to understand why here in Thailand, where it’s not North Korea nor China and where many Americans frequent, we still are watching our lives pass by, suffering in this refugee detention center.
To the government of the United States of America, which has set policies to resolve the North Korean human rights crisis and has been a leader of rallying international support and attention to this cause:
To President George W. Bush, who promised to resolve the North Korean human rights crisis, having even teared from reading the North Korean defector Kang Cheol-Hwan’s memoir, to all of the significant leaders of economics, history, and the press, and to all of the Senators and Congressmen:
Please answer us.
When will we go to America?
When will the hand to rescue us North Korean refugees who are rotting away in prison come for us?
Should we have not believed in the United States of America? Should we have not decided to go to America?
Why must anyone suffer like this? Why must anyone experience pain that forces him or her to wither away like this? Where we wait without any time limitation, any resolution to this problem, any updates from this situation?
Does this mean that we will never get to America? Does this mean that we are unnecessary beings to America?
Please tell us.
Should the United States of America truthfully care for the human rights of the North Korean citizens, who cry for help from the atrocities created by the dictatorship regime of Kim Jong Il, and should the U.S. be genuine about its decision to accept North Korean refugees, who are the victims of this dictatorship, please help us! Please save us!
Please prove yourselves to the North Korean citizens who are to this day dreaming of one day getting to America from listening to “Voice of America” in their basements.
We have been forced to even sign an oath accepting any kind of disadvantage we may have to accept should we choose to decide on going to South Korea after having already decided on America. Please help us. We have nowhere else to go if America rejects us.
The U.S. destined North Korean refugees in Thailand currently are on a hunger strike in solidarity, and from this solidarity we desperately plead to the United States of America.
We ask that you answer us and take action with deeper interest and care for us who have been waiting without knowing how long.
After never having heard of the word “God” and having been brainwashed into a cultish religion of idolizing only what we physically saw, when we learned about God for the very first time, we felt a surge of desire to live our lives for true freedom.
Since then, we have dreamed the American dream of the land of opportunity, studying daily and praying for this goal. Just the idea of going to America, the land of freedom, has been our main source of energy and strength in our daily lives.
However, in this journey where the destination is hardly visible, we have all grown too tired. There truly are too many things that we cannot understand.
We have risked our heath and lives and have chosen to go on a fast. We hope you understand that this is our only option, and we ask that you will reflect on our desperate call and need to go to America.
We have come to learn that freedom is as valuable as our lives. And so, we pledge that we will not give up from this battle of fasting.
Here in this third country, the U.S. destined refugees daily wait expectantly for the government of the United States of America to open its doors to true freedom.
We ask the government of the United States of America to not be silent to the North Korean human rights crisis. We ask that the U.S. government take definite measures and action and accept us.
To the nation that we will be citizens to, and to the nation of hope that will protect the freedom and human rights of the North Korean people, we collect all of the North Korean refugees’ hearts into one and desperately plead to the United States of America.
Should America be the symbol of freedom and peace, we deeply believe that the government of the United States of America, the land of our God, will urgently take appropriate measures to help us achieve our desperate dream of America as our final destination.
April 10, 2008 We collect in solidarity the hearts of the U.S. destined refugees in the Thailand Immigration Detention Center.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
More broadly, if as an officer – listen to me very carefully – if as an officer you don't tell blunt truths or create an environment where candor is encouraged, then you've done yourself and the institution a disservice. This admonition goes back beyond the roots of our own republic. Sir Francis Bacon was a 17th century jurist and philosopher as well as a confidante of the senior minister of England's King James. He gave this advice to a protégé looking to follow in his steps at court: “Remember well the great trust you have undertaken; you are as a continual sentinel, always to stand upon your watch to give [the king] true intelligence. If you flatter him, you betray him.” Remember that. If you flatter him, you betray him.
First things first. Congratulations on beating Navy in lacrosse. (Cheers, applause.) Army football will be at Texas A&M in College Station on September 27th. (Cheers.) When the two teams last played in San Antonio two years ago, y'all took 10 years off my life, years I can't afford. I expect it'll be another great game, and I think I'll stay away in a safe place, like Baghdad. (Laughter.)
And in normal speech, I'd thank y'all for coming, but I know full well that this evening is not exactly optional – (Laughter) – and my apologies. (Laughter.) So I'll be content with thanking you for staying awake, or at least trying to, given the schedule that y'all have here.
Of course, falling asleep in a lecture or a class is one thing. Falling asleep in a small meeting with the president of the United States is quite another. But it happens. (Laughter, applause.) I was in one Cabinet meeting with President Reagan where the president and six members of the Cabinet all fell asleep. (Laughter.)
But former President Bush created an honor to award the American official who most ostentatiously fell asleep in a meeting with the president of the United States. This was not frivolous. The president evaluated candidates on three criteria – (laughter) – first, duration – (laughter) – how long did they sleep? Second, the depth of the sleep; snoring always got you extra points. (Laughter.) And third, the quality of recovery – (laughter) – did one just quietly open one's eyes and return to the meeting, or did you just jolt awake – (laughter) – and maybe spill something hot in the process? Well, the award was named for Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft who was the first President Bush's national security adviser. He was, as you might suspect, the first awardee, and, I might add, won many oak leaf clusters. (Laughter.)
I actually regret a lot that I will not be here for the commencement of the class of 2008 because of an overseas commitment, but I am honored and grateful to have the opportunity to speak with you this evening. And in fact, I think this is better than commencement, because at commencement the firsties – by then near second lieutenants – would be only thinking about how fast they could get off post. In this way, I get to speak to all of you at least once for about 35 minutes or so – just for those of you who are checking your watches – and while I am secretary of Defense, and I have every confidence you can make it, just keep nudging the person next to you.
This evening's talk is the culmination of a day spent on the road. And I've already made a bunch of headlines at the Air University at Maxwell, criticizing the Air Force. So, now it's the Army's turn. But it is always a welcome duty to be away from Washington, D.C. The faculty should have issued a warning by now that most of you, if you stay in the Army long enough and do everything you're supposed to in your career and are successful, you will one day be punished with a job in the Pentagon.
Some of you may have already heard the jokes and stories from your instructors about the sheer size of the building and the bureaucracy.
The late newsman David Brinkley told a story about a woman who told a Pentagon guard she was in labor and needed help in getting to a hospital. And the guard said, "Madame, you shouldn't have come here in that condition." And she said, "When I came here, I wasn't." (Laughter.)
Even the great General Eisenhower was flummoxed by the experience of making his way around the Pentagon. Soon after returning to Washington, he made the mistake of trying to return to his office all by himself. He later wrote, quote, "So hands in pockets and trying to look as if I were out for a carefree stroll around the building, I walked…and walked and walked, encountering neither landmarks nor people who looked familiar. One had to give the building his grudging admiration. It apparently had been designed to confuse any enemy who might infiltrate it." (Laughter.)
No doubt many of you have studied Eisenhower in your time here. Last year I read Partners in Command, a book by Mark Perry. It is an account of the unique relationship between Eisenhower and General George Marshall, and how they played a significant role in the American victory in World War II and laid the foundations for future success in the earliest years of the Cold War. Eisenhower and Marshall are, of course, icons, legends etched in granite. Their portraits hang in my office.
But one of the things I found compelling in Partners in Command is how they were both influenced by another senior Army officer who is not nearly as well-known and in fact, as a reader of history, I had never heard of.
His name is Fox Conner, a tutor and mentor to both Eisenhower and Marshall. Conner and Marshall first became friends when they served together on the staff of General "Black Jack" Pershing during World War I. And in the 1920s, Eisenhower served as staff assistant under Brigadier General Conner in the Panama Canal Zone.
From Conner, Marshall and Eisenhower learned much about leadership and the conduct of war. Conner had three principles of war for a democracy that he imparted to Eisenhower and Marshall. They were:
· Never fight unless you have to;
· Never fight alone;
· And never fight for long.
All things being equal, these principles are pretty straightforward and strategically sound. We've heard variants of them in the decades since, perhaps most recently in the Powell doctrine.
But of course, all things are not equal, particularly when you think about the range and complexity of the threats facing America today, from the wars we are in to the conflicts we are most likely to fight. So tonight I'd like to discuss with you how you should think about applying Fox Conner's three axioms to the security challenges of the 21st century, the challenges where you will be on the front lines.
“Never go to war unless you have to.”
That one should only go to war as a last resort has long been a principle of civilized people. We know its horrors and costs. War is, by its nature, unpredictable and uncontrollable. Winston Churchill wrote in January 1942: "Let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter… Once the signal is given, the statesman is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events."
In a dictatorship, the government can force the population to fall in behind the war effort, at least for a time. The nature of democracy, however, limits a country's ability to wage war – and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed with perhaps the exception of World War II, every conflict in America's history has been divisive and controversial here at home. Contrary to what General Patton said in his pep talks, most real Americans do NOT like to fight.
Consider the conflicts today. Afghanistan is widely viewed as a war of necessity – striking back at the staging ground of the perpetrators of the September 11th attack. The Iraq campaign, while justified in my view, is seen differently by many people. Two weeks ago I testified, in front of the Congress on the Iraq War. I observed that we were attacked, at home in 2001, from Afghanistan. And we are at war in Afghanistan today, in no small measure, because we mistakenly turned out backs on Afghanistan after the Soviet troops left in the late 1980s.
We made a strategic mistake in the endgame of that war. If we get the endgame wrong in Iraq, I told the Congress, the consequences will be far worse.
Truth to tell, it's a hard sell to say we must sustain the fight in Iraq right now and continue to absorb the high financial and human cost of the struggle, in order to avoid an even uglier fight or even greater danger to our country in the future. But we have Afghanistan to remind us that these are not just hypothetical risks.
Conner's axiom – never fight unless you have to – looms over policy discussions today over rogue nations like Iran that support terrorism; that is a destabilizing force throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia and, in my judgment, is hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. And in fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat – either directly or through nuclear proliferation.
And then there's the threat posed by violent jihadist networks. The doctrine of preemption has been criticized in many quarters, but it is an answer to legitimate questions. With the possibility of proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical materials, and the willingness of terrorists to use them without warning, can we wait to respond until after a catastrophic attack is either imminent or has already occurred? Given the importance of public opinion and public support, how does one justify military action to prevent something that might happen tomorrow or several years down the road? While "never fight unless you have to" does not preclude preemption, after our experience with flawed information regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, how high must the threshold of confidence in our intelligence have to be to justify at home and abroad a preemptive or preventive war?
Conner's second axiom was "Never fight alone."
He recognized from the onset that the way World War I ended – and particularly the terms of the Versailles Treaty – made another major conflict with Germany almost inevitable. Victory would require a strong partnership of the Anglo-American democracies, and the most successful Army officers would have to adapt to working with allies and partners. Eisenhower and Marshall executed this concept brilliantly in World War II, despite the fact that, as one historian wrote about Allied generals, Eisenhower had to deal with, "as fractious and dysfunctional a group of egomaniacs as any war had ever seen."
Nonetheless, as Perry writes, “Eisenhower was a commander who believed that building and maintaining an international coalition of democracies was not a political nicety…but a matter of national survival.” And he brought this concept to the founding of NATO.
But what do you do when, as is the case today with NATO in Afghanistan, some of your allies don't want to fight; or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used; or their defense budgets are too small as a share of national wealth to provide a substantial contribution? Not counting the United States, NATO has more than two million men and women under arms, and yet we struggle to sustain a deployment of less than 30,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and we are forced to scrounge, hat in hand, for a handful of helicopters.
In August 1998, after the terrorist bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, I wrote an op-ed in the The New York Times about terrorism and national priorities, and I noted that taking a more aggressive approach to terrorism would, in virtually all cases, require America “to act violently and alone.” And even after September 11th and a string of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, the publics of many of our democratic allies view the terror threat in a fundamentally different way than we do – and this continues to be a real obstacle with respect to Afghanistan and other issues.
But as Churchill said, the only thing worse than having allies is not having them at all. They provide balance, credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of much of the world. And in the case of Afghanistan, one should never discount the power of the world's wealthiest and most powerful democracies coming together – as they did in Bucharest three weeks ago – to reaffirm publicly their commitment to this mission. Nor, above all, should we forget the superb performance in combat and the sacrifices of allies like the British, Canadians, the Australians, the Danes, the Dutch and others. And I would note with sympathy that last Friday, the same day that the general took command of the Dutch forces, his son, a lieutenant, age 23, was killed in Afghanistan.
Just about every threat to our security in the years ahead will require working with or through other nations. Success in the war on terror will depend less on the fighting we do ourselves and more on how well we support our allies and partners in the modern Muslim world -- moderate Muslim world and elsewhere. In fact, from the standpoint of America's national security, the most important assignment in your military career may not necessarily be commanding U.S. soldiers, but advising or mentoring the troops of other nations as they battle the forces of terror and instability within their own borders.
Finally, Fox Connor said, "Never fight for long."
According to Perry, General Connor believed that “American lives were precious, and no democracy, no matter how pressed, could afford to try the patience of its people.” Early on, Connor instilled the idea in both Eisenhower and Marshall, on finding the enemy, fighting the enemy, and defeating the enemy all within a short period of time.
In World War II, the American people had already begun to lose patience by the fall of 1944, when the lightning dash across the plains of France following D-Day gave way to a soggy, bloody stalemate along Germany's western border. And that was only two-and-a-half years after Pearl Harbor.
Eisenhower no doubt had this in mind when he became president during the third year of the Korean war. He believed that the United States – and the American people – could not tolerate being bogged down in a bloody, interminable stalemate in Northeast Asia while the Soviets menaced elsewhere, especially in Europe. Eisenhower was even willing to threaten the nuclear option to bring that conflict to a close.
It has now been six-and-a-half years since the attacks on September 11th, and we just marked the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. For America, this has been the second-longest war since the Revolution, and the first since then to be fought throughout with an all-volunteer force. In Iraq and Afghanistan, initial, quick military success have led to protracted stability and reconstruction campaigns against a brutal and adaptive insurgency and terrorists. This has tested the mettle of our military and the patience of our people in a way we haven't seen in a generation.
At the turn of the 21st century, the U.S. armed forces were still organized, trained and equipped to fight large-scale conventional wars, not the long, messy, unconventional operations that proliferated following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The same traditional orientation was true of our procurement procedures, military health care, and more. The current campaign has gone on longer and has been more difficult than anyone expected or prepared for at the start, and so we've had to scramble to position ourselves for success over the long haul, which I believe we're doing.
A drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq is inevitable over time – the debate you hear in Washington is largely about pacing. But the kind of enemy we face today – violent jihadist networks – will not allow us to remain at peace. What has been called the “Long War” is likely to be many years of persistent, engaged combat all around the world in differing degrees of size and intensity. This generational campaign cannot be wished away or put on a timetable. There are no exit strategies. To paraphrase the Bolshevik Leon Trotsky, we may not be interested in the long war, but the long war is interested in us.
How America's military and civilian leadership grapples with these transcendent issues and dilemmas will determine how, where and when you may be sent into the battle in the years ahead.
In discussing Fox Conner's three axioms, I've raised questions and provided few, if any, answers, and that's the point. It is important that you think about all this, not just at the Academy but throughout your military careers, and come to your own conclusions.
But in order to succeed in the asymmetric battlefields of the 21st century – the dominant combat environment in the decades to come, in my view – our Army will require leaders of uncommon agility, resourcefulness and imagination; leaders willing and able to think and act creatively and decisively in a different kind of world, in a different kind of conflict than we have prepared for for the last six decades.
One thing will remain the same. We will still need men and women in uniform to call things as they see them and tell their subordinates and their superiors alike what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.
Here too Marshall in particular is a worthy role model. In late 1917, during World War I, U.S. military staff in France was conducting a combat exercise for the American Expeditionary Force. General Pershing was in a foul mood. He dismissed critiques from one subordinate after another and stalked off. But then-Captain Marshall took the arm of the four-star general, turned him around and told him how the problems they were having resulted not from receiving a necessary manual from the American headquarters – Pershing’s headquarters. And the commanders said, “Well, you know, we have our problems.” And Marshall replied, “Yes, I know you do, General…but ours are immediate and everyday and have to be solved before night.”
After the meeting, Marshall was approached by other officers offering condolences for the fact he was sure to be fired and sent off to the front line. Instead Marshall became a valued adviser to Pershing, and Pershing a valued mentor to Marshall.
Twenty years later, then-General Marshall was sitting in the White House with President Roosevelt and his top advisers and Cabinet secretaries. War in Europe was looming but still a distant possibility for an isolated America. In that meeting, Roosevelt proposed that the U.S. Army – which at that time was ranked in size somewhere between that of Switzerland and Portugal – should be the lowest priority for funding and industry. FDR's advisers all nodded. Building an army could wait.
And FDR, looking for the military's imprimatur to his decision, said, “Don't you think so, George?” And Marshall, who hated being called by his first name, said, “I'm sorry, Mr. President, I don't agree with that at all.” The room went silent. The Treasury secretary told Marshall afterwards, “Well, it's been nice knowing you.” And it was not too much later that Marshall was named Army chief of staff.
There are other, more recent examples of senior officers speaking frankly to their civilian senior officers. Just before the ground war started against Iraq, in February 1991, General Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, met with the president, first President Bush. I was there in the Oval Office. Colin looked the president in the eye and said words to this effect: “We are about to go to war. We may suffer thousands of casualties. If we do, are you prepared to drive on to victory? Will you stay the course?” Colin wanted the President to face reality. The President gave the right answer.
I should note at this point that in my 16 months as secretary of Defense, I have changed several important decisions because of general officers disagreeing with me and persuading me of a better course of action. For example, at one point I had decided to shake up a particular command by appointing a commander from a different service than had ever held the post. A senior service chief persuaded me to change my mind.
On trips to the front, I've also made it a priority to meet and hear from small groups of soldiers ranging from junior enlisted to field-grade officers, and their input has been invaluable and shaped my thinking and decisions as well. All in senior positions would be well-advised to listen to enlisted soldiers, NCOs, and company and field-grade officers. They are the ones on the front line, and they know the real story.
More broadly, if as an officer – listen to me very carefully – if as an officer you don't tell blunt truths or create an environment where candor is encouraged, then you've done yourself and the institution a disservice. This admonition goes back beyond the roots of our own republic. Sir Francis Bacon was a 17th century jurist and philosopher as well as a confidante of the senior minister of England's King James. He gave this advice to a protégé looking to follow in his steps at court: “Remember well the great trust you have undertaken; you are as a continual sentinel, always to stand upon your watch to give [the king] true intelligence. If you flatter him, you betray him.” Remember that. If you flatter him, you betray him.
In Marshall's case, he was able to forge a bond of trust with Roosevelt not only because his civilian boss could count on his candor, because once a decision was made, FDR could also count on Marshall to do his utmost to carry out a policy – even if he disagreed with it – and make it work. This is important because the two men clashed time and again in the years that followed, ranging from yet more matters of war production to whether the allies should defer an invasion on the mainland of Europe.
Consider the situation in mid-1940. The Germans had just overrun France and the battle of Britain was about to begin. FDR believed that rushing arms and equipment to Britain, including half of America's bomber production, should be the top priority in order to save our ally. Marshall believed that rearming America should come first. Roosevelt overruled Marshall and others, and came down on what most historians believe is the correct decision – to do what was necessary to keep England alive.
The significant thing is what did not happen next. There was a powerful domestic constituency for Marshall's position among a whole host of newspapers and congressmen and lobbies, and yet Marshall did not exploit and use them. There were no overtures to friendly congressional committee chairmen, no leaks to sympathetic reporters, no ghostwritten editorials in newspapers, no coalition-building with advocacy groups. Marshall and his colleagues made the policy work and kept England alive.
In the ensuing decades, a large permanent military establishment emerged as a result of the Cold War – an establishment that forged deep ties to the Congress and to industry. And over the years, senior officers have from time to time been tempted to use these ties to do end runs around the civilian leadership, particularly during disputes over purchase of large major weapons systems. This temptation should and must be resisted.
Marshall has been recognized as a textbook model for the way military officers should handle disagreements with superiors and in particular with the civilians vested with control of the armed forces under our Constitution. So your duties as an officer are:
· To provide blunt and candid advice always;
· To keep disagreements private;
· And to implement faithfully decisions that go against you.
As with Fox Conner's lessons of war, these principles are a solid starting point for dealing with issues of candor, dissent and duty. But like Conner's axioms, applying these principles to the situations military leaders face today and in the future is a good deal more complicated.
World War II was America's last straightforward conventional conflict that ended in the unconditional surrender of the other side. The military campaigns since – from Korea to Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq today – have been frustrating, controversial efforts for the American public and for the American armed forces. Each conflict has prompted debates over whether senior military officers were being too deferential or not deferential enough to civilians, and whether civilians, in turn, were too receptive or not receptive enough to military advice.
In the absence of clear lines, of advance or retreat on the battlefield, each conflict has prompted our nation's senior civilian and military leadership to seek the support of an increasingly skeptical American public, using a variety of criteria and metrics – from enemy body counts to voter turnout and more. Then as now, the American people relied especially on the candor and the credibility of military officers, in order to judge how well a campaign is going and whether the effort should continue.
Candor and credibility remain indispensable, because we will see yet more irregular and difficult conflicts, of varying types, in the years ahead; conflicts where the traditional duties of an officer are accompanied by real dilemmas – dilemmas posed by a non-linear environment made up of civilian detainees, contractors, embedded media and an adversary that does not wear uniforms or obey the laws of war; an adversary that could be your enemy on one day or, as we've seen in Iraq's Anbar province, your partner the next.
Many of you have gone over some of these scenarios, in ethics classes, or heard the accounts from returning veterans; a situation where, for example, a beloved platoon sergeant is killed by a sniper shot believed fired from a house by the side of a road. When the soldiers arrive, the sniper's gone. But the old lady, who lives in the house, is still there. The battalion and brigade commanders pass down orders to demolish the house – to teach the enemy's sympathizers a lesson and take away a possible sniper position. The platoon leader conducts an investigation and concludes this course of action is counterproductive. So the lieutenant makes the call not to destroy the house. And his CO stands by him. This is a true story from Iraq – a campaign that has been dubbed the “Captain's War” because, as in any counterinsurgency, so much of the decisive edge is provided by the initiative and the judgment of junior officers.
When you are commissioned, it will all too quickly be your judgment and your leadership that your soldiers will rely upon. As you prepare for this awesome responsibility, learn all the lessons you can learn here, from heroes with real-world experience and wisdom in and out of the classrooms – people like Master Sergeant Reginald Butler, NCO Tac Company D-3.
And speaking of lessons learned, I should note that during my time as secretary, I have been impressed by the way the Army's professional journals allow some of our brightest and most innovative officers to critique – sometimes bluntly – the way the service does business; to include judgments about senior leadership, both military and civilian. I believe this is a sign of institutional vitality and health and strength. I encourage you to take on the mantle of fearless, thoughtful, but loyal dissent when the situation calls for it. And agree with the articles or not, senior officers should embrace such dissent as healthy dialogue and protect and advance those considerably more junior who are taking on that mantle.
I wrote my first and far from last critique of CIA in a professional journal in 1970, four years into my career. Without the support of several senior agency officers, my career would have quickly been over.
Here at West Point, as at every university and company in America, there's a focus on teamwork, consensus-building and collaboration. Yet make no mistake, the time will come when you must stand alone in making a difficult, unpopular decision, or when you must challenge the opinion of superiors or tell them that you can't get the job done with the time and the resources available – a difficult charge in an organization built on a “can-do” ethos; or a time when you will know that what superiors are telling the press or the Congress or the American people is inaccurate. There will be moments when your entire career is at risk. What will you do? What will you do?
These are difficult questions that you should be thinking about, both here at West Point and over the course of your career. There are no easy answers.
But if you follow the dictates of your conscience and the courage of your convictions while being respectfully candid with your superiors while encouraging candor in others, you will be in good stead for the challenges you will face as officers and leaders in the years ahead.
Defend your integrity as you would your life. If you do this, I am confident when you face these tough dilemmas, you will, in fact, know the right thing to do.
I'll close with a few words to all of you but especially to the class of 2008. Soon you will take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I have taken that oath seven times in the last 42 years, the first when I enlisted in 1966 and the last when I became secretary of Defense. I want to encourage you always to remember the importance of two pillars of our freedom under the Constitution: the Congress and the press. Both surely try our patience from time to time, but they are the surest guarantees of the liberty of the American people.
The Congress is a co-equal branch of government that under the Constitution raises armies and provides for navies. While you read about the intense debate over Iraq, you need to know that members of both parties now serving in Congress have long been strong supporters of the Department of Defense and of our men and women in uniform. As officers, you will have a responsibility to communicate to those below you that the American military must be nonpolitical and recognize the obligation we owe the Congress to be honest and true in our reporting to them, especially when it involves admitting mistakes or problems.
The same is true with the press, in my view, an important guarantor of our freedom. When the press identifies a problem in the military, our response should be to find out if the allegations are true – and if so, say so and then act to remedy the problem, as at Walter Reed; if untrue, then be able to document that fact. The press is not the enemy, and to treat it as such is self-defeating.
As the Founding Fathers wisely understood, the Congress and a free press, as with a nonpolitical military, assure a free country – a point underscored by a French observer writing about George Washington in 1782. He wrote, “This is the seventh year he has commanded the army and that he has obeyed the Congress. More need not be said.”
Finally, we hear a good deal about men and women who volunteered for military service in the wake of the September 11th attacks. For you Firsties, your admissions applications for the academy would have come due early in 2004. By that point, it had become clear that Iraq as well as Afghanistan would be long, grinding and complex campaigns. Your decision to come here and the decision of all the Academy classes that have followed was made with the knowledge of almost certain deployment to distant and dangerous battlefields, with the likelihood of more tours to follow. Each of you – with your talents, your intelligence, your record of accomplishments – could have chosen something easier or safer and of course better-paid. But you took on the mantle of duty, honor and country, passed down the Long Gray Line of men and women who have walked these halls and strode these grounds before you, and for that you have the profound gratitude and eternal admiration of the American people.
It is undoubtedly politically incorrect for me to say, but I feel personally responsible for each and every one of you, as if you were my own sons and daughters. And so my only prayer is that you serve with honor and return home safely. And I personally thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
In an effort to kick the Air Force Higher out side its comfort zone, Gates got tough and not only invoked the wrath of Boyd but called upon the next gen Air Force officers to "reject convention and careerism". A hell of a read:
SEC. GATES: Thank you. Thank you, General Lorenz. It's great to be back at Maxwell. I last spoke here nearly 16 years ago, when I was director of CIA. The world was a very different place then, of course, but some things never change. For example, Washington, D.C., has always been a perilous assignment, one that has cut short more careers than anywhere else in the world. As General Lorenz has pointed out, the worst day at Maxwell is still far better than the best day at the Pentagon. (Laughter.)
Representatives from many NATO nations are here today, including dignitaries from Poland. As I look around, I see more than a hundred international students in the audience. To our international brothers in arms, I appreciate your nations’ partnerships, and I hope we can find new, creative ways to keep working together and way -- and in ways that capitalize on our respective areas of expertise.
As General Lorenz just mentioned, I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force on January 4th, 1967. I was married in Seattle on January 7th, three days later, and a few days after that reported for duty at Whiteman Air Base in Missouri, then home to 150 Minutemen -- Minuteman ICBMs.
One of my duties at Whiteman was to brief the missile crews on international political and military developments.
I would have to tell you, their lack of interest was awe-inspiring. (Laughter.)
But because of my academic background and modest Russian language skills, I frequently briefed high-ranking officers on our wing's Minuteman targets in the Soviet Union. Translated, that means I was one of the few people in the entire wing and aerospace division who could actually pronounce the names of our targets.
One time I was explaining our target set to a lieutenant general, the commander of 8th Air Force at Westover, who I would describe as a cigar-chomping Curtis LeMay wanna-be. When I told him that 120 of our 150 missiles were aimed at Soviet ICBMs, he exploded and, with many expletives I will delete, said it was an outrage that we would be hitting only empty silos. He wanted to kill Russians. He demanded that I, Second Lieutenant Gates, rewrite the nuclear targeting plan. (Laughter.)
Reminds of another story about targeting. One Friday night we were called out of the Whiteman officers' club during happy hour because there was a problem with the war plans. SAC headquarters had decided that they had to change the launch sequencing for all of the missiles. So we worked all night to fix the strike-control documents. That meant wrestling with large, unwieldy sheets of lamination. This was an earlier age, technologically. This stuff was sticky as flypaper. The next morning, around 9:00, after the documents had been delivered to the launch control capsules by helicopter, we got a call from a major in one of the LCCs. He sounded puzzled as he examined his strike-execution checklist and identified what he thought was a piece of pepperoni under the lamination. (Laughter.) He had correctly identified the kind of pizza we had during the night. (Laughter.)
Maxwell has a special claim on history. In 1910 an Alabama businessman leased a cotton field to the Wright brothers. They set up the first flight school here at Maxwell, near base ops today. They conducted night flights over Montgomery and even set an altitude record, rising 2,500 feet, the second-highest ever achieved at that time. They could scarcely imagine today's machines.
In the invitation to speak here, General Lorenz asked me to talk about challenges that you, as Air Force officers, will face as you become senior leaders. The Air Force has been in the process of constant change for decades, with a steady drumbeat of expeditionary air operations. Perhaps uniquely among the services, the Air Force has been at war more or less constantly for 17 years, since the launch of Desert Storm.
Since September 11th, the Air Force has flown nearly a million missions in the war on terror, with an average of 300 sorties per day, ranging from lift to medevac to close air support.
The contributions of airmen have made a real difference for those fighting on the ground. Survival rates for those injured are up to 90 percent, in part due to aeromedical evacuation. During Desert Storm, it took about 10 days to medevac wounded to the United States. Now it takes about 3 days.
As Secretary Rice mentioned from this podium a week ago, the Air Force is doing some missions it would never have imagined in 2001, such as Air Force officers leading provincial reconstruction teams. In addition, there are about 14,200 airmen performing "in lieu of" tasks on the ground, where an Air Force civil engineer might replace an Army heavy construction engineer.
And then there's the example of Air Force Tech Sergeant Jeremy Sudlow of Pandora, Ohio, who logged more than 430,000 miles on Iraq's roads as the convoy commander of a medium truck detachment. And in one month alone, C-17s helped take nearly 5,000 trucks off dangerous roads in Iraq.
Some of you have seen continuous operations in a combat theater since the day you donned the blue uniform. All of you raised your right hand knowing that deployments were a fact of life, and as you well know, these activities have taken a toll on the Air Force's Cold War-era equipment. As you well know, the average age of a tanker is 47, 15 years older than the average age of the pilots flying them. I believe the Air Force procurement program that the president has approved and requested and that I have supported is an appropriate and responsible one that will allow the service to reset from current operations and prepare for future challenges.
Those challenges will be immense and they will be diverse. When I last spoke here in June 1992, the Soviet Union had dissolved just six months earlier. Four decades of nuclear standoff fizzled out as the Cold War came to a quiet end. There were no parades or peace treaties. President George H.W. Bush didn't dance on the Berlin wall or declare victory over the Soviet Union. Only the Pentagon could resurrect what I actually said back then in June 1992, and I said, "We must expect continuing radical change and upheaval around the world -- at times promising, at times frightening -- before the form and patterns of a new era settle into place." As this new era actually continues to unfold before us, the challenge that I pose to you today is to become a forward-thinking officer who helps the Air Force adapt to a constantly changing strategic environment characterized by persistent conflict.
Let me illustrate using a historical exemplar, the late Air Force Colonel John Boyd. As a 30-year-old Captain, he rewrote the manual for air-to-air combat. Boyd and the reformers he inspired would later go on to design and advocate for the F-16 and the A-10.
After retiring, he would develop the principles of maneuver warfare that were credited by a former Marine Corps commandant and a secretary of Defense for the lightning victory in the first Gulf War.
Boyd's contributions will resonate today. Many of you have studied the concept he developed called the OODA loop, and I understand there's an “OODA Loop” street here at Maxwell, near the B-52.
But in accomplishing all these things, Boyd, who was a brilliant, eccentric and stubborn character, had to overcome a large measure of bureaucratic resistance and institutional hostility.
He had some advice that he used to pass on to his colleagues and subordinates that is worth sharing with you. Boyd would say -- and I quote -- "One day you will take a fork in the road, and you're going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go one way, you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises, and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club, and you will get promoted and get good assignments. Or you can go the other way, and you can do something, something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide to do something, you may not get promoted, and you may not get good assignments, and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors, but you won't have to compromise yourself. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you have to make a decision: to be or to do."
For the kinds of challenges America faces and will face, the armed forces will need principled, creative, reform-minded leaders, men and women who, as Boyd put it, want to do something, not be somebody.
An unconventional era of warfare requires unconventional thinkers. That is because this era's range of security challenges, from global terrorism to ethnic conflicts, from rogue nations to rising powers, cannot be overcome by traditional military means alone. Conflict will be fundamentally political in nature and will require the integration of all elements of national power. Success, to a large extent, will depend less on imposing one's will on the enemy or putting bombs on targets, though we must never lose our ability or our will to unsheathe the sword when necessary. Instead, ultimate success or failure will increasingly depend more on shaping the behavior of others, friends and adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between.
This new set of realities and requirements have meant a wrenching set of changes for our military establishment that until recently was almost completely oriented toward winning the big battles and the big wars. Based on my experience at CIA, at Texas A&M and now the Department of Defense, it is clear to me that the culture of any large organization takes a long time to change, and the really tough part is preserving those elements of the culture that strengthen the institution and motivate the people in it, while shedding those elements of the culture that are barriers to progress and achieving the mission.
All of the services must examine their cultures critically if we are to have the capabilities relevant and necessary to overcome the most likely threats America will face in the years to come.
For example, the Army that went over the berm about five years ago was, in its basic organization and assumptions, essentially a smaller version of the Fulda Gap force that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait a decade prior. As I've told Army gatherings, the lessons learned and capabilities built from Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns need to be institutionalized into the service's core doctrine, funding priorities and personnel policies. And that is taking place, although we must always guard against falling into past historical patterns where, if bureaucratic nature takes its course, these kinds of irregular capabilities tend to slide to the margins.
Like the Army, the Air Force has adopted some of the lessons of recent history. We see how deeply the expeditionary culture and mindset have taken root. The service has adapted capabilities to today's realities and come up with some ingenious responses on the battlefield, such as small-diameter munitions that can strike irreconcilable enemies with less chance of harming or alienating civilians. In an era when we are most likely to be challenged in asymmetric ways, I would ask you to think through how we can build the kinds of air capabilities most likely to be needed while continuing to offer a strategic hedge against rising powers.
Protecting the 21st century's global commons -- in particular, space and cyberspace -- has been identified and adopted as a key task. Building the capacity of partners is another, a topic that Secretary Rice and I addressed before the House Armed Services Committee just last week. What the last 25 years have shown is that the threats can emerge almost anywhere in the world, but our own forces and resources will remain finite. To fill this gap, we must help our allies and partners to confront extremists and other potential sources of global instability within their borders. I ask you to think through what more we might do through training and equipping programs or other initiatives to enhance the air capabilities of other nations and whether, for example, we should pursue a conceptual hundred-wing air force of allies and partners to complement the thousand-ship navy now being leveraged across maritime commons.
These new realities and missions should be reflected in our training and doctrine. The Air Force will be increasingly called upon to conduct civil-military or humanitarian operations with interagency and nongovernmental organizations and partners and deal directly with local populations. These missions will put a premium on foreign language and cultural expertise. As you know, Red Flag at Nellis Air Force base is a premier training exercise that began after the Vietnam War to improve air-to-air combat skills over the years.
The exercise scenarios have expanded to include allied nations, close air support and other elements of modern warfare, but it has not yet addressed that gray zone between war and peace. Specifically, the exercise could include civilians from NGOs and government organizations and be more closely integrated with land component training such as the Army's NTC in California.
Furthermore, the counterinsurgency manual issued by the Army and Marines is over 200 pages long and yet only four pages are dedicated to air, space and cyberspace. Not long ago, the Air Force published a doctrine document on irregular warfare, but as future leaders of air power, you should consider whether there is more the service might do to articulate and codify the unique role of air power in instability operations.
Other questions I would ask you to consider go to the heart of how the service is organized, manned and equipped. What new priorities should drive procurement and what new criteria should drive promotions? At Whiteman in the 1960s I recall missileers and non-rated officers questioning whether they would ever make flag rank because they were unrated, though I know a good deal has improved for the career prospects of non-aviators since then.
In addition, we need to be thinking about how we accomplish the missions of the future, from strike to surveillance, in the most affordable and sensible way. We must heed John Boyd's advice by asking if the ways we do business make sense.
UAVs offer a case in point. In the early 1990s I was director of CIA. After 27 years of experience as an intelligence professional, I had seen many agents place themselves in harm's way to collect information in some of the world's most dangerous and inaccessible environments. I'd stood by flag-draped coffins at Andrews Air Force Base, receiving those from CIA who had given their all serving the nation. The introduction of UAVs around this time meant far less risky and far more versatile means of gathering data, and other nations like Israel set about using them. In 1992, however, the Air Force would not co-fund with CIA a vehicle without a pilot.
Unmanned systems cost much less and offer greater loiter times than their manned counterparts, making them ideal for many of today's tasks. Today, we now have more than 5,000 UAVs, a 25-fold increase since 2001. But in my view, we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt. My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield. I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater. Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth.
While we've doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough. And so last week I established a Department of Defense-wide task force, much like the MRAP Task Force, to work this problem in the weeks to come, to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line. The deadlines for the task force's work are very short.
All this may require rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not. For those missions that still require manned missions, we need to think hard about whether we have the right platforms -- whether, for example, low-cost, low-tech alternatives exist to do basic reconnaissance and close air support in an environment where we have total control of the skies -- aircraft that our partners also can afford.
This morning I have raised some difficult questions, with perhaps difficult answers. I'm asking you to be part of the solution and part of the future. As up-and-coming Air Force leaders, I urge you to explore creative new ways airmen, writ large, can apply their skill and talent and weaponry as the forms and patterns of this new era still settle into place.
No doubt such changes will be difficult for an organization that has been so successful for six decades. The last time a U.S. ground force was attacked from the sky was more than half a century ago, and the last Air Force jet lost to aerial combat was in Vietnam.
Such success is attributable in part to the ways airmen have pushed technology to its outer limits, but it is also attributable to maverick thinkers like John Boyd.
As you graduate from your respective courses and leave Maxwell, you too will eventually face Boyd's proverbial fork in the road. And you will have to choose to do something or to be someone.
For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism, and to make decisions that will carry you closer toward rather than further from the officer you want to be and the thinker who advances airpower strategy and meeting the complex challenges to our national security.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (U.S. Air Force, commander of Air University): Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for those thought-provoking remarks.
I believe our students and faculty have some questions to ask you.
Air University students and faculty, if you have a question for Secretary Gates, please make your way to one of the microphones along the sides of the auditorium. I will recognize you and ask that you please identify yourself and your college or school. Thank you.
SEC. GATES: I had an old rule when I was head of CIA and doing Q&A. I'd say, anybody in the audience can ask any question they want, and I'll answer any question I want. (Laughter.)
Here, you can ask any question you want, and I'll answer any question I can.
Q Good morning, sir. (Name inaudible) -- from Air Command and Staff College, Flight 10.
Sir, you mentioned counter-conventional thinking as part of your brief there. I'm part of a futures group here at ACSC called Blue Horizons. My particular research work was done in directed energy.
I polled a myriad of pretty high-level DOD thinkers in the direct-energy realm. In addition to telling me that they were underfunded, as most people do, I was really surprised at what they perceived as an institutional bias, against not only funded directed-energy pursuits but also employing them, like the current Active Denial System that was headed for Iraq and then was pulled.
I was wondering if you could kind of talk to us about that.
SEC. GATES: This was on the directed energy?
Q Yes, sir.
SEC. GATES: You know, we were just getting started on direct-energy programs when I unsuccessfully retired the first time. And the Congress just cut the missile defense directed energy, the laser plane.
I don't know about the tactical system that you were just describing. But let me see what I can find out, and get back to you with an answer.
Sometimes it's just, you know, for the mundane reasons of making choices on budget issues and so on. And I just don't know whether it was a technical problem or a budget issue or a bureaucratic issue.
Q Sir, (Name inaudible) -- from Air War College.
The -- actually sir, I'm over on this side.
SEC. GATES: Okay. (Laughter.)
Q And I said that with all due respect, sir. (Laughter.)
SEC. GATES: It’s not clear whether it was my eyes or my ears that weren't working. At my age, it's probably both. (Laughter.)
Q It was the substandard PA system. There was an echo. (Laughter.)
Sir, with your regards to maverick thinking -- sorry for the feedback.
But in your regards to maverick thinking, how do you feel that military PME can be improved to facilitate more thinking outside of the box, more creative thinking versus research?
SEC. GATES: Well, I'm not -- frankly, I'm not quite sure of the distinction between out-of-the-box thinking and research. Of course, it does bring to mind the definition that -- if you borrow an author, it's plagiarism; if you borrow from a bunch, it's research. (Laughter, applause.) Only a university president would know that. (Laughter.)
You know, I think -- I think out-of-the-box thinking is, in many cases -- I guess I'd break it into two pieces: out-of-the box thinking in terms of technology and capabilities, and out-of-box thinking in terms of processes and the bureaucracy, if you will. And it may be that research is better suited for the former than for the latter. Real-world experience and knowledge of what's not working, of where the obstacles are in getting something accomplished, is more related to out-of-the-box thinking in terms of process, it seems to me, and bureaucracy. So the distinction that I would make is that in both cases, the problem is that the institution -- and not just the Air Force, virtually every institution -- is organized in a way to stifle out-of-the-box thinking.
And -- so most successful executives, whether -- one of the things that I did before joining the Defense Department was serve as chairman of the independent trustees of the Fidelity Funds, the world's biggest mutual fund company. And the founder of that company, Ed -- Ned Johnson, basically always had a group of people around him who had no day-to-day responsibilities but that -- the whole company in terms of looking for new investment opportunities, looking for new ways of doing things, new innovations. And because of these out-of-the-box thinkers, in the early 1990s, Ned Johnson put a billion dollars of his own money into creating a back-office capability to handle 401(k)s, and I can't tell you how many billions Fidelity's made since then on it.
But the point is, you need to have some kind of -- and the intelligence community has wrestled with this over the years and, I would say, mostly unsuccessfully. And one example is the role of the national intelligence officer for warning. Now, this is supposed to be the out-of-the-box thinker who spots the threat coming down the road that nobody else can spot. But since most of the time, most threats don't materialize, eventually that person gets sidelined, and they don't play a constructive role. So figuring out how to integrate into a big organization and promote and protect a group of people that are trying to think outside the box, whether it's technology or process, I think, is one of the challenges for every senior leader.
But in that case, as I say, I don't draw a distinction between research and process. But it's -- the key is leaders who understand the value of people who do think out of the box, and the reality is, they mostly have to be protected.
And I would put in the same category -- I'm going to talk about more at West Point later today -- dissent. Dissent is a sign of health in an organization, and particularly if it's done in the right way and respectfully and so on. But people who dissent, who take a different view, who kind of are orthogonal to the conventional wisdom are always at risk in their careers, just like Boyd was. And so figuring out -- Boyd couldn't have done what he did unless senior officers, at least one or two, were looking out for him.
And so I would say, in a generic answer to your question, the biggest challenge for out-of-the-box thinking is the wisdom of the senior leader who sees the value of that kind of thinking and protects it and the people who do it.
Q Sir, Lieutenant Colonel (Name inaudible) from Air Command and Staff College. Sir, we appreciate you taking the time today and coming to speak to us.
Yesterday, the New York Times had an article that talked about the number of retired senior officers who are commentators but who also serve on boards for companies that are profiting from the war. Sir, what do you think about all these senior officers who are now retired influencing public opinion about the Department of Defense and the war effort? And I don't know if you had a chance to read the article, but what do you think about that, if you will, conflict of interest that they are involved in?
SEC. GATES: Well, I will tell you that this is actually -- the increasing engagement of retired officers in the political process and in the media is something that has really taken off -- (inaudible) -- in 1993. There were only one or two -- a handful of examples of it before 1993. And now it's kind of a cottage industry. I suppose in a flip sort of way I could say, the good-news side is there are now so many it doesn't really matter. If there were still just a handful out there they might actually have some real influence.
But when you've got scores of these guys either signing up for different candidates or as media experts and so on -- the worry that I have in this whole thing, whether they are signing up with candidates or whether they are acting as experts for the media, is the important -- when they are referred to by their title, the public doesn't know whether they are active-duty or retired, often, because those distinctions tend to get blurred, and they don't know whether they're speaking for the institution or for themselves.
And so if I had one request to all of them, it would be in whatever role they're playing that they make clear that they're not speaking for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines Corps, or the Department of Defense, but only speaking for themselves.
And I suppose that takes a little of the gloss over the -- off of their appeal, but I think that's the honest way to approach this.
My -- I did read the article, and frankly, I think it -- I couldn't quite tell how much of it was an implied political conflict of interest, an implied financial conflict of interest or what.
But -- so I would just limit myself to saying I think that the one service they owe everybody is making clear that they're speaking only for themselves.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we have time for one more question.
Q Good morning, sir. (Inaudible name) from Air War College, from France. Sir, you mentioned this morning in your speech how important interoperability and working in coalition was for the U.S. Air Force. About a couple of months ago, the U.S. government decided that the future tanker will be provided by a consortium led by Grumman and Airbus. Since then, Boeing decided to challenge this decision. I would like to know -- and it will delay the overall process for the Air Force to procure this kind of aircraft. I would like to know what you think about this challenge and how -- (audio break).
SEC. GATES: Well, Boeing is using the legitimate processes that have been established to protest the award of a contract. As I understand it, the General (sic) Accountability Office will -- is evaluating the decision process and Boeing's process and Boeing's protest, and they will issue a decision in terms of whether they believe the protest was warranted.
All I can say is that I think it would be a real shame if the tanker were to get delayed yet again. We're long past due in terms of getting on with this program.
The law is very explicit. The law allows the Defense Department, in an acquisition like this, to consider only technology, capability and cost. All other considerations are explicitly prohibited by law. And so it seems to me that, based on everything I've seen, this was a fair process. But we'll wait and see what the GAO report says.
But I think that some things unrelated to what the law says we can consider are being thrown into the mix, at least on Capitol Hill. And I -- and that's a concern. And I think our undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, John Young, said something about this publicly in a hearing the other day.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)