Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

4 suggestions for fixing the U.S. military

Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on October 23, 2015.

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Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on October 23, 2015.

In the other congressional hearing yesterday, my friend Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins offered four suggestions for improving our armed forces:

 

Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on October 23, 2015.

In the other congressional hearing yesterday, my friend Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins offered four suggestions for improving our armed forces:

— Stop churning out vapid strategy documents like the QDR.

— Study re-mobilization

— Renew professional military education. “To do that, measures would have to be taken that would be anathema to personnel systems today: competitive application to attend a school, rather an assignment to do so as a kind of reward; extremely small class sizes; no foreign presence, or only that of our closest allies; work on projects that are directly relevant to existing war planning problems.”

— And my favorite: “remake our system for selecting and promoting general officers. Nothing, but nothing is more important than senior leadership – the creative leaders like Arleigh Burke or Bernard Schriever in the early Cold War. Our problem is that our promotion systems, in part because of the natural tendency of bureaucracies to replicate themselves, and in part because of the wickets (including joint service) all have to pass through, is making it hard to reach deep and promote exceptional talent to the very top.”

Photo credit: SuperFantastic/Flicker (cropped)

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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