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War on the Rocks

Great discussions with security, defense, and foreign policy experts recorded over drinks.
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Now displaying: Category: Interviews
Sep 11, 2014
Yesterday, Ryan Evans sat down with Sean Kay over a couple beers at the Jefferson Hotel's wonderful Quill Bar to discuss America's foreign policy trajectory and Sean's new book, America's Search for Security: The Triumph of Idealism and the Return of Realism.  This wide-ranging conversation covered every topic a foreign policy wonk could dream of: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, the Cold War, NATO, Russia, President Obama, Ukraine, the Asia Pivot, the Middle East, and more. Sean has insightful points to offer on all of these topics and more based on his perspective as a scholar of foreign relations and still recovering government adviser.   Image: White House
Feb 25, 2014
We sat down with General Martin E. Dempsey in his office to talk strategy, the profession of arms, military compensation reform, and professional military education. Interview Transcript (courtesy Federal News Service, Washington, DC): RYAN EVANS:  Hi, this is Ryan Evans with a very special War on the Rocks podcast.  I’m here with General Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have Jason Fritz, one of our editors at War on the Rocks, also joining us.  And we’re going to talk about profession of arms, which is, General, a big passion of yours, or one of your central efforts, actually, ever since you were TRADOC commander.  How much has your – did your experience joining the post-Vietnam Army in the mid ’70s, which sort of went through some similar challenges that we’re about to see now, shape your approach to profession of arms? GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY:  Well, you know, I think you’re shaped by the accumulation of your experiences over time.  So I entered West Point in 1970, and you know what kind of climate there was in the country in 1970 – not just related to the Vietnam War but related to just a whole bunch of social issues inside the country. So, you know, in that environment, the military had kind of lost its standing with the American people, you know, simply stated.  And so even as a very young officer, it occurred to me that if we are to live up to our – and especially as we transition to an all-volunteer force, by the way – it occurred to me that this issue of professionalism would have to become more prominent.  And, in fact, in 1998, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, I studied for a master’s degree and took as my thesis that issue. And in that particular treatise, if you will, I came to the conclusion that the single most important value in our long list of professional values was the – was the duty – was the value of duty.  By the way, I wasn’t the first one to turn that up.  You may remember that Robert E. Lee said that duty is the sublimest virtue. So that started me down a path of studying what it means to be a professional.  How is it different from simply a job?  What is it that we owe ourselves internally?  How do we hold ourselves to a higher standard?  How do we identify that standard?  What are the key leader attributes that define us?  And how do we deliver them?  And how do we make sure we know we’re delivering them? And so that’s the context in which I entered TRADOC, did some things there, did a few things as chief of staff of the Army, knowing that after 10 or 12 years of conflict we had gotten sloppy.  It’s not – I’ve said this before.  It’s not that the war caused this misstep, if you will, but rather that the tools that we had at our disposal, whether they were education, oversight, surveys, command climate assessments, fitness reports, mentoring and – you know, mentors and protégés, we had kind of broken – you know that – we had kind of broken some of those relationships because of the pace, and in some cases because of modularity, this notion in the Army, anyway, that you can kind of plug and play with units.  Well, you can, actually.  They’re very fungible.  But when you do that, you break the mentor-protégé relationship as you plug and play.  So we’re looking back now and looking forward as well.  That’s a long answer, but that’s how I came to this conclusion that it was time to take a very close look at this. RYAN EVANS:  That’s a good answer, actually.  And I know Jason, a fellow armor officer, experienced – I don’t know if, Jason, you want to comment or question based on what you saw. JASON FRITZ:  Yeah, I would agree, particularly on the issues of mentor and protégé issues.  I was in the first modularized brigade, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and, you know, we – going through the pains of transitioning to that model and some of the repercussion over the years with them.  I was a brigade planner during the surge,
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