I have been in a meeting for the past hour and a half and returned to read my comments and discover that John McHugh, a Republican congressman from upstate New York, will be the next Secretary of the Army pending confirmation. My initial thoughts on this are, first off, relief that a defense industry executive such as Arnold Punaro was not named. (No disrespect to Mr. Punaro, by the way -- for all I know he is a great American. I am just very wary of putting executives with responsibility for weapons systems like the Future Combat Systems in charge of the services trying to decide whether or not those weapons systems are good investments.) Second, I am really excited about this particular choice. McHugh is the latest of many pragmatic, centrist Republicans and Democrats to be installed or retained in President Obama's Department of Defense, and I have first-hand experience of Rep. McHugh's knowledge of defense matters and concern for our nation's fighting men and women. (I was once stationed at Fort Drum, near Rep. McHugh's hometown, and closely followed the degree to which he served as an advocate for soldiers in the Congress.) Third, this seems like really smart politics. The odds favor McHugh being replaced in his district by a centrist Democrat, wouldn't you say? Or at least a Republican set to get rolled by redistricting? (These are crafty folks, these Chicagoans occupying the White House.)
In the end, I think this is a good choice for both the U.S. Army and the country.