ZenPundit
Thursday, March 23, 2006
 
"THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARGENT-MAJOR IS HERE TO SEE YOU GENERAL ABIZAID"

Josh over at the Adventures of Chester is promoting an idea to break the natural tendency toward self-referential group-think that emerges at the highest levels of military command - give the President of the United States his own Sergeant-Major.

Technically, of course, to paraphrase LBJ, they're all the president's seargent-majors but it could hardly hurt President Bush to receive the unvarnished perspective of a senior career NCO, fresh from combat in Iraq. This was the very reason that the position of Sergeant-Major of the Army was created, to give the brass the perspective of the NCO and enlisted ranks and this proposal would merely extend the feedback up to the Commander-in-Chief.

As Josh wrote:

"Now tie it all together. You can see it, yes? What the President needs is his own Sergeant Major - a directed telescope on the battlefield reporting directly to him. Not his staff, not the White House Spokesman or the Press Pool. The chain goes straight to The Man himself.

This is not hard to envision. Grab any of a number of Sergeants Major out there who are now retired. They have made careers of making gut calls in all manner of odd situations. Grab a guy who used to be in Delta Force, or the 1st Marine Division SgtMaj. You could grab an officer if you preferred (ahem: my email address is in the sidebar), but if it was me, I'd have a senior enlisted man, the type who's harder than woodpecker lips. Whoever he is, he must be able to communicate very very very well. Then give him an armored four door humvee, a translator, and a couple of shooters to be a mini-brute squad. That's all he'll want if he's the kind I have in mind. He can always hop on a bird if needs to. Get him some nice equipment too -- a camera, a sat phone, etc.

Then set him loose. Tell him to go to whatever is interesting and report whatever he thinks necessary. Give him no format whatsoever. No timeframes whatsoever. Or, if you know of a particular operation that needs checking up on, send him there.

One more thing he needs: a little letter signed by POTUS that says, "This man may go wherever he wishes. Do not impede him." He can laminate that and put it in his vest and that's all he'll need for access. "

A bit romantic. Commanders will always, in time-honored fashion, pull out the stops to impress any fact-finding VIP but one reporting directly to the President of the United States is going to have to be careful he does not get lost in the maze of Potemkin villages that will be built for him.

But overall, a good idea. One that may give senior officers and Pentagon civilian apppointees a few heart attacks
 
Comments:
Sounds like an interesting preliminary attempt at undermining the hierarchy that makes us so ineffective at facing 4gw/5gwarriors.

Generals at all levels have been doing it for years.
 
If the pres want's the unvarnished truth just allow and read soldier's blogs to know what the soldier's are thinking.
 
I hope the Army/Marines have better E-9's in this role than the Navy does. Our last three have been roundly pathetic, especially our last, MCPON (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy) Terry Scott, whose signature achievement relates to uniforms, not people. We should not forget that these high-profile positions of senior enlisted leadership often are political hacks and opportunists, just like a number of the senior officer corps.

Still a fascinating idea that bears merit.
 
Here's a good piece on the directed telescope throughout history:

http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Griffin/GRIFFIN.asp

There is a long history of this kind of function, and it would be very good to adapt it to the current needs of the American Commander in Chief.

The Presidential Sergeant Major should have a supporting staff. The PSM's staff would do things like (1) read soldier's blogs, as a prior commenter mentioned, (2) review emails and other communications which raised issues for possible review by the PSM, (3) carry out research and support functions for the PSM. The PSM should be able to initiate some investigations of a fact-gathering sort on his own initiative, in addition to going where the President sends him.

This is a genuinely good idea which should be more widely circulated. There is no practical reason it could not be done. I imagine it could be set up by means of an executive order.
 
hi everyone,

Lex wrote:

"I imagine it could be set up by means of an executive order"

I believe that you are correct. Senate confirmation is only required for the rank of general/flag officers and as a practical matter the US has made creative use of warrant officers in the past. Also, as the case of John Paul Vann demonstrated, a president effectively turned the powers of military command at at least the two-star level over to a nominal civilian. In comparison, creating a " presidential sergeant-major" is not a big deal.
 
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