Monday, August 2, 2021
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A few facts about the military, and more, from Kristof

The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.

That's the first of four bulleted paragraphs of facts about the military offered by Nicholas Kristof in a column titled The Big (Military) Taboo. You might know that. You might even know that we have troops at 560 bases outside the United States. That's the 2nd. And the third?

The intelligence community is so vast that more people have "top secret" clearance than live in Washington, D.C.

But I have not yet offered the most shocking, from the 4th of those paragraphs, for which I suggest you continue below the fold.

Don’t Cry For Obama, Stan McChrystal

General McChrystal violated a single most honored standard of behavior among general/flag officers: dignified collegiality. One purpose of CAPSTONE is to round off edges left from any stunted professional military growth. A fourth generation military officer failed the course's standard. This isn't the first time; just a more public one.

A particular demeanor is expected among general officers that extends beyond the military to civilian counterparts in government and industry, not just to the President and up "the chain of command." Upon selection to general or flag grade, every single officer is sent to the CAPSTONE "leadership course." CAPSTONE, quaintly known as the generals' knife and fork course, helps forge relationships and build cooperation across the services and interagency. When you have a star or stars, access follows. That access is used judiciously and within limits just as in any human endeavor at stratospheric levels of authority. The air is a bit thin up there, and if you cannot adapt, you quickly suffocate. The measure of CAPSTONE success is how far a flag officer continues to breathe. Apparently Stanley McChrystal's flame wasn't snuffed early enough; this at least is his third strike. Why? And what does this say about how some military officers' careers are nurtured?

There is no reason to be either a screamer or to act out in passive aggressive fashion as a flag officer. First there is the power of the position. Next there are the relationships. Then there is also a backchannel method of communication that is available when flag officers want to make a point. When attention and emphasis are desired or when there is a point of contention, a message is sent "Personal For" (P-4) to formally establish the record. And if after you have expressed your position, you don't get the outcome desired, you salute smartly and carry on; or you retire. If you can't follow orders, time to be gone. Hold your tongue until then. Rolling Stone is not the usual transmission medium for P-4s.