Best Defense

‘Time’ reviews the state of the U.S. Army, and raises some interesting questions

The Nov. 4 edition of Time magazine has a long look by the estimable Mark Thompson at the state of the Army. It quotes me and other suspects, but the best comment is from Arnold Punaro, about the cost of benefits to the Pentagon: "We’re going to turn the Depart­ment of Defense into a benefits ...

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tim Morgan/Released
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tim Morgan/Released

The Nov. 4 edition of Time magazine has a long look by the estimable Mark Thompson at the state of the Army. It quotes me and other suspects, but the best comment is from Arnold Punaro, about the cost of benefits to the Pentagon: "We’re going to turn the Depart­ment of Defense into a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist."

That remark reminds me of something I read lately that really struck me about how the pinnacle of the military is Delta Force, and that basically to be in the military is to defer to the guy with the beard who shoots OBL in the face. I think that is right — I don’t know if Special Operations has ever held such a central place in the culture of our military. What is the difference between an army built for the mass use of force, and an army that elevates assassination to its primary task? I need to think about the implications of this.

Thomas 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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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