"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Loyalty vs Integrity

Tom Ricks has a great post on his blog concerning leadership expectations of loyalty and expectations of integrity. As usual, he gets some fantastic comments on his post. It's an important discussion.

I thought it was particularly interesting that it didn't take long for somebody to comment on corporate America.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Disconnect Between America and its Military?

As the Washington Post reported, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, spoke a month ago at the National Defense University and observed that there is a disconnect between our military and the American public. Admiral Mike Mullen said they don't know us, and we don't know them. He pointed out that it's dangerous for us not to know them.

The recent turmoil in Egypt and the involvement of its military has made me ponder the role of the military in a democratic country. From the limited accounts I have heard, it appears Egypt's military refused violence on its people and acted as a voice of reason for Egyptian citizens. I wonder if that hellish experience were ever to visit our shores (and I pray to God that it never does), what would our military do? While I can't shake the images of Kent State, I think our military would do the right thing for our country. While we have disagreements and various political stripes and ideologies, we do have good people in our service.

Still I would advocate a much greater study of the U.S. Constitution in our professional military education. If I had my way, junior officer PME would include some of the best Constitutional scholarship our country has to offer. I envision visiting professors from the top universities, debate and discussion. I would include in the curriculum speakers from organizations such as Oath Keepers, and the Cato Institute, and others from across the spectrum of debate. I believe the importance of our Constitution rates serious study and consideration by those who have sworn before God to bear true faith and allegiance to it.

The rights of our people, military and civilian, and our basic freedom of speech and debate, grievances, worship, and liberty from the physical oppressions of government are laid out before us in our wonderful Constitution, and mostly in our Bill of Rights. I believe if we in the military take real efforts to honor our oaths to support and defend this great document, we will perhaps go a long way in understanding our citizens who employ and rely on us. To do that, we must dedicate study to our document and our rich American history, and to the jurisprudence and case law our courts have produced. It is a scholastic enterprise and there is plenty of room for debate and disagreement. While there many never be unanimity in our Constitutional views, when we better understand the document we can better defend it. When we better support and defend it, we support and defend Americans.

While I have not always lived up to this standard, it is my view now that service members should take every opportunity to exercise their American rights, so that we may prevent their apathetic loss over time. This perhaps will help us connect better with our citizenry. So many needs and desires of Americans have been addressed over years of pain and a history of struggle and, at great cost, have been etched into our sacred parchment. While this struggle and history is not complete, an understanding of it is an essential start for those of us in uniform to connect with our civilian brothers and sisters.