One Quote Shows The Enlisted Ranks’ Problem With Hagel’s Departure

news
DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is on his way out, at the request of President Barack Obama, after just 18 months in charge of the Pentagon.


Various media reports have offered insight on Hagel’s forced resignation: Hagel had a hard time recovering from an unexpectedly contentious Senate confirmation process; the Obama administration wanted to build consensus around its strategy to defeat the Islamic State; the White House national security team has an issue with micromanagement.

But Hagel’s departure promises to have an effect on the military that extends beyond the halls of the White House or the Pentagon. As a former enlisted soldier and a Vietnam War veteran, Hagel was beloved by the rank and file.

Today, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, tweeted an interaction with two young troops that details this sentiment. I’ve removed the shorthand that she used in the tweet.

“Do you think Secretary Hagel got fired because he cared more about the troops than he cared about the White House?” The troops reportedly asked her. “That's what we think.”

This sentiment suggests that in removing Hagel in the interests of creating a cohesive national security team, Obama may have created the perception among enlisted service members that he values loyalty and consensus ahead of the culture of the military outside of D.C. and the way troops view their leadership in Washington.

Hagel, the sole Republican in the president’s cabinet, was seen as a man of the people who cared most about the enlisted men and women, even ahead of what the president or the generals thought. It may not have been true, but it’s an important perception. It’ll be a trait quite difficult to replicate in whoever replaces Hagel.

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less