[February 26, 2014] The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) announced yesterday that the U.S. military would be cut significantly over the next three years; more aggressively than previously envisioned. While there are a number of vocal critics of “slashing” the military, the real question is: “What is our national and military strategy?”
The lethality of our military, and thus the manpower-equipment-training lay down, is based on what our senior leadership believes our grand strategy to be now and into the foreseeable future. Strategy takes into account both the costs of our strategy and its purpose.
Communication is one of the fundamental aspects of senior leadership. The SecDef announced in a speech that the military reduction would occur. At the same time he offered up what is called the military strategy with some grand strategy mixed in. Like it or not, that is what is required of senior leaders and the SecDef delivered.
What some people will object to is the grand strategy itself. Critics of the strategy place their arguments and hinge their logic mostly on our history as the world’s policeman. These are legitimate arguments that should be addressed publicly, ideally before any announcement is made. Otherwise, the leadership is saying they know best (and that is usually true) and thus are not inclined to listen to counter arguments.
When leaders, in particular senior leaders, knowingly and publicly announce they have not listened to counter arguments, regardless of the decision, then they are saying in effect that those they lead are unimportant and inconsequential.
Unless there are mitigating circumstances where the decision had to be made quickly, which this is probably not the case, only then can the input from others be consciously ignored. Yet, even in this case, the leadership is obligated to fully explain the decision.
This is both the way it is done in an educated democratic society and when the best senior leaders faithfully execute their duties. It is also important to link this decision with other decisions and do so faithfully if they are connected. An argument is being made that significant domestic spending is driving defense expenditures downward. This was not linked in the speech.
The Department of Defense Official Website and information about DoD cost reductions: http://www.defense.gov.