July 05, 2017

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

By Katherine Kidder and Loren DeJonge Schulman

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.

  • Video
    • May 18, 2020
    Remote work at the Defense Department after the virus

    Susanna Blume, Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), discusses the future of telework at the Defense Department a...

    By Susanna V. Blume

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • May 13, 2020
    It’s Time to Rethink our Wargames

    National security practitioners held several high-profile pandemic wargames and exercises in the years prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. Often, these games eerily predicted e...

    By Chris Dougherty

  • Commentary
    • April 9, 2020
    Sharper: America's National Security Workforce

    The greatest source of strength in American national security is the people who lead and serve within its institutions. The ongoing U.S. response to the global coronavirus out...

    By Emma Moore, Chris Estep & Cole Stevens

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • April 2, 2020
    Let Them Work From Home

    Earlier this week Defense One reported that senior military service branch representatives requested a one-month delay in the submission of their annual budgets, arguing that ...

    By Susanna V. Blume

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia