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.

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