- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m doing a week spelunking in the military archives, and emerging each evening somewhat fried in the brain. (Just because you stick to your story for 25 years doesn’t make it true, General Almond.)
So I was reading Eisenhower’s final report as chief of staff of the Army, filed in February 1948, and was surprised to see that he assumed that as jointness proceeded, eventually there would be easy lateral movement between the services for officers wishing to do so. He thought it would help the military establishment be more effective:
Free transfer among the services, without loss of rank, would, in appropriate cases, be a valuable measure for promotion of the national rather than the service viewpoint. Developments of this sort will come with time and I am confident that each succeeding year of unification will bring closer the goal of a fully integrated establishment. (292, Eisenhower Speaks)
I wonder why this idea just up and died. In 20 years of covering the military, I’ve not heard it ever mentioned. It is like it just … evaporated, kind of like President Obama’s wasta. (I still like and admire the guy, but it’s feeling pretty lonely these days — imagine how he feels. But if the economy comes back, so will he.)
Overall, by the way, Ike’s report is not in the same class as the reports George Marshall filed as Army chief of staff. But then Marshall was reporting on the conduct of the biggest war ever, while Ike was just trying to clean up the ensuing messes and hold the Army together.
Meanwhile, in other military news, Doonesbury appears to have introduced as a new character today a female soldier apparently facing discharge for violating “DADT.” It’ll be interesting to see how he plays it.