- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may remember that we’ve discussed troubles at the National Defense University before, and especially those involving its president, Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin. Here is a hair-raising update from an insider:
“1- MG Martin is under investigation, as directed by the Joint Staff, by an officer of equal or greater rank. The nature of the investigation is undeclared but likely involves:
a. The placement of MP guards at his quarters based on perceived threats.
b. Was placed on leave and directed not to engage in official university business. Has been attempting to hold meetings off post/at his quarters.
c. NDU command climate survey; I guess the results were pretty damning.
d. A privately owned weapon may have been involved (not fired, but present); on University grounds.
e. Was directed to have a mental health evaluation; unknown diagnosis.
2- NDU-P is on leave now for an undeclared amount of time. Type of leave unknown (Emergency, Convalescent, Regular, etc)
3- AMB Nesbitt (NDU Senior Vice President) is serving all NDU-P administrative functions until further notice (hiring actions, awards, etc).
4- The BO-JET will continue this year as planned/briefed…we are simply too close to execution to turn the ship around. JSOMA is still unaffected.”
Tom again: On Friday, I wrote to General Martin asking for his comment on this. He promptly responded, “thanks for the note. Am on leave, so passing this on to key leaders.” (None of those key leaders responded.) When I wrote back to ask what kind of leave the general is on, he declined to say. I also asked spokesmen for NDU and for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for comment. None so far.
So I poked around and was told that things are bad, but probably not as bad as the note above makes it look. General Martin apparently has some family problems, and that, combined with the stress of the job, compelled him to take leave. (And that strikes me as the right thing to do–for himself, his family, and NDU.) The investigation, conducted by a Marine three-star, was completed in a day. He concluded that there was no personal threat to General Martin. After that inquiry was completed, the MP guard was removed.
The command climate survey is still underway, and the results aren’t likely to be good. The National Defense University is not, I think, a happy place. “NDU is in catastrophically bad shape,” one employee told me. “It is the most dysfunctional organization I’ve seen in three and a half decades years of working for DoD, and steadily getting worse.”
Not a happy place. And new class arrives in a few weeks. I can’t imagine a civilian university being run this way.