I don’t mean being singled out for ill treatment, instead, I’m referring to the notion that when you’re in a foxhole with bullets flying by your head, the last thing you need to do is question the sanity of the leadership. You have to have faith, otherwise you’d be frozen, or worse . . .. I always have taken the position that as a professional in the military, having an opinion is great, but to express it might undermine that concept of having faith. Trust me, if the Sergeant tells his men that the Commander is a moron, this does not bode well for morale or the ability to keep his people alive. I think we all get that at the micro level, such as in the foxhole, but perhaps we should extend this to the upper levels of leadership too. As a leader, I won’t openly criticize or express my political opinions, since that can impact the ability of those around me to execute a plan that we’ve been ordered to execute. In other words, talking bad about the boss doesn’t help a bit when you’re trying to get something done. Instead, it more likely will lead to failure, and face it, failure in some things just isn’t an option.
All of this leads to this particular point. When someone tells me or asks me my opinion about a Commander in Chief, you will NOT get an answer. Lest someone thinks I’m defending any one of them in particular, let me assure you, I was as offended about some of what was said by my peers about the last one, as I am about the current one. Face it, they are polar opposites in the political arena, but they are/were the Commander in Chief. People who have undertaken the profession of arms should have opinions, I just don’t want to hear them, any more than they really need to hear mine. (Take it to the voting booth, and if you don’t vote, then don’t bitch!) As men of arms we don’t check the First Amendment at the door to protect the boss, but maybe we should think about checking it at the door for our peers or our subordinates that ultimately must rely on the boss making the decision. If you want to set foreign policy, then get out and run for office, otherwise just remember our job isn’t to make it, but to enforce it to the best of our ability.
The one caveat to this is that until a decision is made, open discourse is not only important, but it can be invaluable. This is why the SecDef and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have an obligation to point out things, and provide their opinions. Are they political? No, instead, they are professional assessments of the situation and the best use of the available assets. This might lead to disagreement at the upper levels of leadership, but once the Boss has made a decision, the you do your best to make it work, regardless of your personal feelings. That is how it has to work, and from my perspective, it is the ONLY way you can make it work. The other day I took a pot shot at DOJ. I don’t regret this at all, since I don’t work for DOJ, and therefore, I’m not speaking ill of the Boss. If I ruffled feathers over there, then so be it. Somewhere around here is a rat that is completely devoid of his nether regions. Let me say, I’ve never been a fan of the DOJ, or the State Department for that matter, but that has nothing to do with the Boss. Instead it has everything to do with the fact that my history with both goes back 30 to 40 years, through lots of Bosses from both parties. I just can’t stand institutional mind sets that never change or grow, which will always put me at odds with some of those bozos.
Now apart from my disdain for ivy league agencies, do I have a political opinion? You bet your ass, but you’ll not hear it from me, so please stop threatening to “unfriend” me on facebook because I’m not “one of you.” Who knows, I might be, or I might not be, but either way, I’m now and always will be a military professional, ergo my opinions about the boss are mine and mine alone. ~ Michael S. Pauley