Category: War on the Rocks

Defense Problems as People Problems: Mattis’s Human Capital Challenge

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s arrival in the Pentagon in late January was to launch an era of intra-Pentagon harmony — familiar face, familiar knife hands, well-known to both the E-ring and the most distant forward operating bases.

But the Department of Defense is an unwieldy, complex beast, and, as former Secretary Ash Carter indicated to Congress, can’t be governed on autopilot even with the best intentions. From a polished, secured office overlooking the Potomac, it’s easy for secretaries of defense to be disconnected from their vast human enterprise, spanning continents but starting with the men and women just outside their door. To succeed in his role, Mattis must give serious attention to how he utilizes his immediate staff. But to excel and leave a worthy legacy for his successors, he should use his position to invest in all civilian human capital under his purview.

Read the full piece on War on the Rocks.

The Hard Questions about the Selective Service Have Nothing to do with Women in Combat

Representative Duncan Hunter’s proposed legislation requiring women to register for the draft is intentionally provocative. It comes in the wake of both the chief of staff of the Army and Marine Corps commandant’s testimonies on women in combat before the Senate Armed Services Committee. A brilliant political move on Hunter’s part, the legislation, which he plans to push for a floor vote — and is likely to vote against himself — would force a needed conversation about women in combat. Specifically, it drives questions regarding issues of both standards and equity associated with opening all combat positions to women — a decision Hunter, a former Marine with multiple combat tours, strongly opposes. His motivation to introduce the legislation is clear from his recent comments: “Let’s see if the American people want their daughters and sisters drafted, if it ever came to that.”

Read the full op-ed on War on the Rocks.

Of Course Women Should Register for the Draft

Women have been serving honorably in the armed forces for as long as the armed forces have existed — they’ve either hidden their gender, seen combat “unofficially,” or served in “support” roles — an increasingly blurry distinction. The renewed debate on the draft is an important step forward in ensuring that the United States maintains its immense military advantage even in the face of a global conflict requiring a draft.

The opening of all combat specialties in the military to women has been a contentious issue, leading Rep. Duncan Hunter to introduce legislation to modify the Selective Service Act, saying “If you’re going to have women in infantry units, if a draft ever occurred, America needs to realize that its daughters and sisters would be included.” Though introduced as an objection to combat integration, thethoughtful consideration of the costs of war is an important obligation of citizenship. With all due respect to the congressman, the daughters and sisters and wives and mothers of many are already choosing to serve, along with the sons and brothers and husbands and fathers.

Read the full article on War on the Rocks.

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Women in National Security

Women in National Security | Center for a New American Security