Friday, November 15, 2013

Obama vs. the Generals

The problem is, Obama’s sociologists don’t know anything other than treating everything like a neighborhood-city council problem. Sociologists do not know history and especially do not know military possibilities and limitations.

“Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, a veteran of Donald Rumsfeld’s rocky reign at the Defense Department, chalks up such misunderstandings to the cultural gap that often separates military and political leaders. There are several basic models of civil-military relations, he notes. The first is the traditional one of separate spheres of authority: ‘Civilians do policy; the military executes’—but still decides the means of execution.

“In a second model, ‘Civilians are the principals, the military are specialized employees. The military can advise, but they must do what the boss says in the way the boss wants, no more and no less.’ But, Dubik says, ‘most people in the military still favor the traditional separate-spheres model, while most people in the White House tend to think in terms of the employer-employee model. That’s a recipe for unhappiness.’

“That culture gap between the Pentagon and the White House frequently feels unbridgeable. The military is hierarchical and structured; civilian organizations, even within the White House, are organized more loosely. To the military, ‘planning’ is a meticulously defined process designed to develop implementable blueprints for action, down to the smallest logistical details; to civilians, planning often just means talking about what might happen in the future.”


(In the last part of the article, the author changes focus toward budgets, as though she decided there should be a domestic reason for the Pentagon's problems with the Obama administration.)

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