Army’s Crooning, Blogging, Gaming Brain Is The Military’s New Top Officer
Sorry, Gen. Cartwright. Hope you like the weather in Mons, Adm. Stavridis. You’ll be staying in Norfolk a little while longer, Gen. Odierno. Because Gen. Martin Dempsey, who’s been chief of staff of the Army for five minutes under two months, will be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This has been an odd, unusual process of selecting the next top military officer. But the AP says it’s all over, and Dempsey is President Obama’s choice for the next top military officer. This is very good news for blogging, gaming, and training foreign forces. And however Dempsey’s erstwhile rivals feel about getting passed over, the real loser is PowerPoint. Maybe counterinsurgency, too.
It’s extremely rare for someone to go from running the one of the services’ intellectual centers — the Army Training and Doctrine Command, in Dempsey’s case — to being chairman in a matter of months. It’s rarer still for an officer to be given one of the service chiefdoms for a few weeks before getting kicked upstairs.
But as we wrote in December when he got the Army nod, Dempsey is an unusual officer. He’s taken to the blogosphere to explain his thinking about the military’s future — specifically, that it should train foreign armies if it wants to avoid the next bloody land war. That needs to become “a core competency for our force in the future,” he told senators in his March confirmation hearing. He’s said to be “sick of the word ‘counterinsurgency,” since it defines the Army’s task in terms of its adversaries, rather than a positive agenda. All that is going to be music to the ears of Obama as he seeks military advice on dialing down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and moving to an era of tight defense budgets.
Oh, and another thing he’ll encourage: social media and gaming.
He reminisced in his confirmation hearing about seeing a VHS in 1981 about how Army generals were looking to the arcades for the next generation of officers. Twitter, Facebook and online gaming are the next avenues for “leader development,” he said. Game on.
He’s not without his baggage. An Army inquiry blasted the Training and Doctrine Command under Dempsey for setting unrealistic R&D requirements that led to huge wastes of money. But that didn’t so much as slow his ascent to Army chief of staff.
Just don’t come to him with any pithy slide presentations. When he took the top Army job, he prepared a four-slide PowerPoint, titled “What I’m Like.” Bottom line up front, as they say in the Army: “You may have heard I dislike PowerPoint. It’s true.” If you think PowerPoint is a race to the intellectual bottom — or just like irony – Dempsey’s your guy.
All that and quite a singing voice, as his take on Sinatra demonstrates. His encore? Surely “My Way.”
Saturday, May 28, 2011
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