A Loss of Strategic Clarity of Thought From Our Military Leaders

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with a report on the Navy’s new Constellation Class Frigate that was both impactful and yet had a distinct air of the obvious:  The Navy caused a three-year delay in this program “by starting construction on the first frigate before finishing its design, among other missteps.”  Starting construction before the design was complete?  How many homebuyers agree to the price and delivery schedule on a house before the options, upgrades, and other features are agreed to?  Maybe Jeff Bezos – most Americans negotiate the price and schedule first, then sign the contract.

Before the GAO report came out, but well after the problems with the Constellation Class were known, the Coast Guard Commandant, forewarned, decided to step on the same rake.  “Coast Guard to Start Polar Cutter Construction Before Finalizing Design, Despite Recommendation”.  Most mere mortals would define the product, then sign the contract.  Our military leaders decided to inverse the process, sign the contract, give the green light, and then define the product.  With the Constellation Frigate and the Polar Cutter programs, lessons learned and common sense were thrown out the window from the beginning.

Something is very wrong with our military – this is not just about shipbuilding; this is about strategic clarity of thought – and we need to know what caused this virus.

The halls of the Pentagon and the National Security Council used to be populated with giants of history – not anymore.  The Gaza Pier debacle is a visual exemplar of the collapse of American military clarity of thought.  What happened and why?

Secretary of the Navy is 0 for 9

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro recently came in for a Senate Hearing and it didn’t go well.  The nine major ship programs have a cumulative of 11 years of delays.  The U.S. Navy will break the 300 ship ceiling in 10 years, while the Chinese have over 200 times the capacity of the United States for ship building.  These numbers are so ridiculously divergent as to be comical.

Senate Republicans hammered Del Toro in the “unusually acrimonious” meeting about his focus on climate change, “I see a really big problem that’s not being addressed nearly as enthusiastically as climate change is with the Navy,” said North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer.

The military leaders are being distracted from their core missions by idols and abstract, feel good, unmeasurable, unobtainable ideals that are deadly for a constitutional republic.  Climate Change, Transgenderism, Open Borders – all are corrosive and toxic concepts that corrupt the thought process.  They all distract from the mission of the Department of Defense, which is stated as, “Our mission is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security”.  Nothing in this mission statement says anything about Climate Change, Transgenderism, Open Borders, or any other pet progressive project.  The cancer that causes the loss of strategic thought begins with a disregard for the purpose of the Department of Defense.  No wonder contracts are signed when the product isn’t defined.

The real metric that tells the story – historic recruiting and retention shortfalls

The military is facing a crisis in recruiting and retention.  From an Association of the United States Army thought piece, the peril was clear, “The Army’s recruiting crisis, the most substantial since the creation of the all-volunteer force 50 years ago, is a threat to U.S. national security”.  The paper goes on to say, “Among Americans ages 17 to 24, only 23% qualify to serve without a waiver due to obesity, drug use or inability to meet academic standards.”

Every one of those salient virtues, being in shape, not using drugs, and having high academic standards are symptoms of “privilege” – the psycho-babble for those who want to push the religion of wokeness.

If the education system is indoctrinating K-12 students with the Communist-inspired psychology of privilege, there’s going to be an increasing percentage of the candidate pool who cannot meet military standards.  And of that 23% who are qualified, how many feel welcome if they are Caucasian, Asian, male, non-transgender, traditional family-minded, Jewish, Christian, Conservative, in shape, do not use drugs, born in America, or any other descriptor determined to be “privileged”?  95% of the population fit into one or more of these categories of privilege, which leaves 1.6 out of 100 meeting the basic qualifications and feeling welcome.  Those who have been indoctrinated by this gibberish are now Generals, Admirals, and Senior Executives.  Woke culture is trained to reward those who show the right intent, results and merit are irrelevant.  One more causal factor explaining why contracts are signed before the deliverable is defined.

Nothing will change until the 800 pound “W” word in the room is addressed

At first, military leaders ignored the term “Woke,” then they made fun of it, and now they are angry about it.  Their operatives put out thought pieces that blame those who point out wokeness as the reason why recruiting and retention is so dismal.

In early 2023, the Army political leadership decided to use the talking point “safety” as the reason that recruiting and retention were so bad.  They were hammered by Republicans who wanted to see the unfiltered source data.  I’m not sure exactly what “safety” means – does that mean transgenders don’t feel safe?  Is that the nuanced and coded message?

The signing of contracts before the product is defined is a symptom of “Woke-ism.”  The United States Military needs to be “De-Woked,” and talking about it is the sunlight that starts the healing process.  The DOD is the largest sub-bureaucracy of the largest bureaucracy in the world, the U.S. Government.  Government is never efficient, but once the drag co-efficient of Wokeness is removed, strategic clarity of thought will return.

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COL (Ret) John Mills has significantly shaped U.S. national security policy over four decades, serving in roles from the Cold War through the era of Great Power Competition. His career includes multiple combat tours, senior civilian positions at the Department of Defense, and strategic duties with the National Security Council in two administrations. Additionally, he is associated with the Center for Security Policy, Committee on Present Danger China, and Spectrum Consulting Group, and is an adjunct professor and founder of the National Election Integrity Association.

You can email John Mills here, and read more of John Mills's articles here.