Rumsfeld Set To Shake Up Leadership

Inside The Pentagon – Rumsfeld Set To Shake Up Leadership At Two Key Combat Commands [$]

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is preparing to buck tradition and hand the top leadership posts at U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command to services that have never commanded them before, defense officials tell Inside the Pentagon.

At the Pacific command — which has been headed by a long line of Navy admirals since its inception as the U.S. Pacific Fleet in January 1947 — Rumsfeld reportedly is preparing to name Air Force Gen. Gregory Martin as his pick. And the defense secretary is expected to nominate Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Cartwright for a fourth star and the top job at Strategic Command, a position that traditionally has rotated between Navy and Air Force officials since its creation in 1992.

For years, defense secretaries have considered installing a leader from outside the Navy to head Pacific Command, but in the end the sea service has always prevailed. Navy leaders have argued they alone are prepared to demonstrate U.S. military presence with their warship fleets in the vast Asian region, experts say. But the Army and Air Force, which have had considerable numbers of forces based throughout the region for more than 50 years, have pushed for greater control.

Finally, it appears, the Air Force got it.

This is a brilliant move and goes to why I continue to believe Rumsfeld is a superb SECDEF. There has been a strong push for over sixty years to create a truly “joint” military force but the continuation of these niche fiefdoms has helped maintain the segregation of the services. The symbolism of this move will be very powerful and go a long way to furthering the real progress in jointness that has taken place in recent years.

The remainder of the article:

“PACOM is like a fiefdom,†one regional expert said last week. Operating from headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, HI, the Pacific commander’s area of responsibility comprises more than 50 percent of the Earth’s surface, 43 countries, 16 time zones and nearly 60 percent of the world’s population.

“The Navy will cash a lot of chips to keep this from happening,†a retired general officer said this week. “Get ready for the fight of the century.â€

Nicknamed “Speedy†for his fast ascension up the ranks, Martin is a fighter pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours who has spent a cumulative nine years in the Pentagon over his 34-year military career. He earned his fourth star in 2000 and commanded U.S. Air Forces in Europe during last year’s war in Iraq. Today, Martin heads Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH.

Spokesmen for Martin and for the Pentagon could not confirm the move and said they had no information about it at press time (May 12).

The anticipated general officer selection for Strategic Command is no less unusual, according to Pentagon watchers. With the vast array of space assets and nuclear weapons owned and operated largely by the Air Force and Navy, sending a Marine to Offutt Air Force Base, NE, may offer a strong signal that Strategic Command̢۪s mission is further adapting to a rapidly changing global picture.

Strategic Command grew out of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, established in 1946 to oversee strategic bomber operations. Having merged with U.S. Space Command in 2002, Strategic Command says its mission now is to “establish and provide full-spectrum global strike, coordinated space and information operations capabilities to meet both deterrent and decisive national security objectives.â€

Since taking office in 2001, Rumsfeld and his senior defense leaders have pushed to make space and other strategic assets more usable for theater warfighters.

Like Martin, Cartwright is a fighter pilot who is no stranger to the ways of Washington. He has spent a cumulative six years at the Pentagon but also has significant experience commanding troops in the field. Since May 2002, the Marine general has served as the Joint Staff’s “J-8†director for force structure, resources and assessment.

If Martin and Cartwright are nominated for the respective posts, the Navy stands to lose two top combatant commander slots. Strategic Command chief Adm. James Ellis and Pacific Command’s Adm. Thomas Fargo are both expected to retire. Pentagon pundits say a Navy admiral thus may be a good bet to replace Air Force Gen. Ed Eberhart when he retires from the helm of U.S. Northern Command — the military’s homeland defense headquarters — where he has been since the command was created in October 2002.

The Navy may also stand to benefit if Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers retires early — potentially as a result of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark or U.S. Joint Forces Command chief Adm. Edmund Giambastiani may be potential candidates for the top military position, defense officials say.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    The only downside to introducing “instability” into which service provides the commander for these various Joint commands is general and flag officer billeting (sorry if that’s a Navy term). At least in the Navy, and I assume it’s true for the other services as well, advancement to any flag rank requires the availability of a billet. I’ve known Captains who were selected and approved for Rear Admiral who then had to wait for years for someone to retire before they could actually put on the star.

    Of course, in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue and the services will somehow manage to overcome the difficulties.

  2. Jim says:

    This isn’t the first time that Rumsfeld has done this. In 2001, the commander of USJFCOM which has always been a Navy Command (especially since he was also the the NATO Fleet Commander as a dual hat) was replaced by an Army General….probably the first one to get a fleet.