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.
More from CNAS
PodcastA Front Row Seat to China's Rise
How have China's global ambitions sharpened under President Xi Jinping, and how should the United States respond? Dr. Kurt M. Campbell served in the Obama administration as th...
By Ilan Goldenberg & Kurt Campbell
CommentaryThe Iranian Missile Strike Did Far More Damage Than Trump Admits
Over 100 American soldiers have been treated for traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s missile strike on Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq. The strike came in retaliation f...
By Loren DeJonge Schulman & Paul Scharre
CommentaryNavigating the Billions
Introduction If you have never interacted with the defense budget it can be daunting. The process is made up of dozens of acronyms and the data is spread over thousands of pag...
By Molly Parrish
CommentaryWhy We Need A New Cold War Strategic Approach
The United States needs to create a set of long-term concerted strategies of a type not seen since the Cold War if it is to successfully compete against Russia and China. Thos...
By Will Mackenzie