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The now-fired Secretary of the Navy apparently sought to provide cover to senior NCIS, legal weasels, and an admiral over the SEAL teams, as they sought to slap the Commander in Chief in the face and cover up their own alleged criminal wrongdoing (now subject of another IG investigation). No military officer, of any rank, would tolerate such gross insubordination from a subordinate: “Sir, you didn’t put in a written order, so I didn’t have to do it.” Oh, but it was just a tweet, and we don’t like his tweets, and besides… Nonsense! In the words of Justice Scalia: “pure applesauce!”
The first two-star general for whom I directly worked gave me a great lesson in followership. He called attention to the way a staff training team reacted to him. The staff training team existed to exercise and develop staff in support of their commanders. The moment the commanding general opened his mouth, team members all had their notebooks out, pens poised and proceeded to write down every single word he said.
The general explained that that showed the doctrinally correct view of general officers’ words. All the words were to be treated as important guidance to their staff. The trainers now had the general’s words and were checking everything the staff did to see if it conformed, to see if the general’s staff was operating competently and correctly in support of the general.
In other contexts, the general coached me to read into phases and topics raised or not, to see if higher headquarters were reinforcing existing guidance (repetition) or changing direction or emphasis. I was expected to report back promptly every time he sent me out as his deputy, his empowered representative. I was expected to inform him and the senior staff, already anticipating possible shifts in our planning and operations, so that we would be a leading command rather than being dictated to in very small words and short sentences in large bold print.
Conservatives, even TruCons, used to have a basic notion of the inviolable subordination of our military to civilian authority, in the person of the Commander in Chief, the president of the United States. Military officers, way back at the end of the Cold War, when we were wondering what would become of all that fancy equipment, all those formations, all those senior positions, even wrote to themselves about the dangerous lure of military and civilian faith in the military over all other institutions. I strongly suggest you read the then influential, award-winning 1992 article “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.”*
Never mind that the author, an Air Force officer, naturally made the Army the center of the villainy; the alternate history, the cautionary tale, still bears consideration today. Duke Law School thought it important enough to republish in 2010, the second year of President Obama’s presidency. Then we were treated to January 2017 musings by one of Obama’s defense officials that the senior officers who had risen to the top under Obama would conduct a coup against the brand new president, whose election had shocked the Washington elite.
BY ROSA BROOKS | JANUARY 30, 2017, 9:26 AM
…The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders.
But Trump isn’t subtle or sophisticated: He sets policy through rants and late-night tweets, not through quiet hints to aides and lawyers. He’s thin-skinned, erratic, and unconstrained — and his unexpected, self-indulgent pronouncements are reportedly sending shivers through even his closest aides.
What would top U.S. military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantánamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”
It’s impossible to say, of course. The prospect of American military leaders responding to a presidential order with open defiance is frightening — but so, too, is the prospect of military obedience to an insane order. After all, military officers swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the president. For the first time in my life, I can imagine plausible scenarios in which senior military officials might simply tell the president: “No, sir. We’re not doing that,” to thunderous applause from the New York Times editorial board.
We all know perfectly well that “insane” is a standard leftist slur, now embraced by the left’s TruCon lapdogs. We all understand that the whole point was to treat the pesky Electoral College results as illegitimate, to use the full power of the Deep State, including the top state-side military headquarters to incapacitate and remove the Deplorables’ president, treating the man as the symbol of all these weasels hate about us.
Rosa Brooks’ biography is especially relevant and telling now. She wrote those words in January of 2017 to encourage the people left in place in the Pentagon, where she had been the top lawyer for the bureaucrat in charge of policy:
Rosa Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, a columnist for Foreign Policy, and a law professor at Georgetown University. She previously worked at the Pentagon as Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; in 2011, she was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Brooks has also served as a senior advisor at the US Department of State, a consultant for Human Rights Watch, and a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Read the Wikipedia entry for Rosa Brooks, intended to be positive, for the rest of the story, the more extreme activities, and associations. Understand that she is outside but still helping influence the government. Note that Georgetown is renowned for producing federal “civil servants” with career and political ambitions. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a West Point graduate, infantry officer, and combat veteran who served 10 years on active duty and then completed his military career in National Guard and Reserve service, retiring as a lieutenant colonel, has now fired the first shot back from the top of the Department of Defense, in firing the Secretary of the Navy.
Esper said he had previously advocated for allowing the Navy review to go forward. But when [President] Trump gave him a “verbal instruction” to stop the process, he did so.
Esper did not say explicitly that he disagreed with Trump’s order.
Once Trump gave the order, Esper said he responded, “Roger. I got it.”
He has made clear that further insubordination and coup-like behavior will be punished, will be career-ending. All rational Americans should applaud this action and this message.
* Regrettably, and without explanation, the U.S. Army War College has shoved most of the back issues of Parameters down the memory hole. For many years, you could easily access the back issues in PDF format. Now you can only reach back through 2012. These were important articles, documenting what our Army officer corps was thinking at the time. They were all online, all searchable, no new work needed. Gone, apparently.Published in