Friday, June 08, 2007

"New Broom" To Head Chiefs Of Staff

By Cernig

Pace is out as Chief of Staff, in an unexpected move.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Friday he has decided against recommending Marine Gen. Peter Pace to President Bush for a new term as chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pace told reporters at the Pentagon that, instead, he is recommending Adm. Mike Mullen, currently chief of naval operations, to take Pace's job.

Gates said he decided not to recommend Pace's renomination for another term because confirmation hearings on that would focus more on the past than the future.

Mullen, he said, has the "vision, strategic insight and integrity to lead America's armed forces."

...Pace has been in his post for six years — a period that covers the Iraq war. Gates said that until recently, he had intended to renominate the Marine general for another two years.

But he said that after consulting with senators in both parties, he had concluded that "the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past and not on the future."
Mullen is obviously intended to repair bridges with America's European defense partners so damaged by Rummie's "Old Europe" policies. In his bio, his experience in working with NATO and European officers is the big stand-out point.

Most accounts suggest that he is also hugely respected by enlisted sailors and lower-ranking officers for his refusal to allow politically sheltered bad officers any haven in the Navy. The website has been vocal in his praises since he took up his new post.
It took the new Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Mullen, less than 24 hours to dump one of the most disliked officers among the Navy's top brass. Vice-Admiral Joe Sestak, an arrogant and obnoxious "bully-boy," who delighted in being rude and unreasonable and getting away with it, found he was expendable the minute his mentor went out the door.

Rumsfeld "yes-man" and weaselly politician Vern Clark will not be missed by many Navy personnel. In fact, hopeful messages are flooding the office of that "maybe, somehow," the Navy has finally gotten a CNO who will "put sailors first" and correct the many mistakes of his predecessor.

It was Clark, a leftover from the Clinton Administration, who promoted Sestak to his third-star and made him deputy chief of naval operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs. Those who dared to complain about Sestak's abusive "management style" were ignored or punished.

By sacking a previously untouchable top-ranking admiral, Mullen has fired a shot across the bow to others like Sestak that their days are numbered too.

All this can only improve morale. We "salute" CNO Mullen for having the courage to do the right thing. It would have been much easier to leave an out-of-control martinet like Sestak in place and not rattle any cages.
There is fear in some circles that Mullen will continue to "kick ass and take names." As he wields his broom and sweeps out the problem officers, we're sure other slugs from the upper enlisted ranks as well, will put in their papers and leave.

"Admiral Mullen has made it very clear there's a new day in the Navy. So far he has gone a long ways to lifting morale and correcting the terrible mess left behind by that toady Clark," the Navy commander told one of our reporters.
Although Pace famously derailled the neocon narrative on Iran after the Baghdad Briefing, he was soon pulled back on message - and over the years he has definitely been a consistent Rumsfield-appointed yes-man for most of the neocon misadventure. Further, his belief that gays are, by definition, immoral wasn't going to go unquestioned in any re-confirmation hearings. Like many in the Bush administration ranks, his loyalty to the message was always the important thing.

It seems plain to me that Mullen is being brought forward, in part, to clean house for Gates and consolidate his position at Defense by sweeping out all the old Rumsfield hangovers. That won't please Cheney, who was always the closest to Rummie in White house circles as the two of them headed the neocon cabal.

Perhaps significantly, Gates also recently appointed a Navy man as the new head of Centcom - and that Admiral went on to say that an attack on Iran would not happen on his watch.

Does anyone else get the impression that the real feud in the Bush administration in coming days won't be the much publicized Cheney-Rice spat but instead a Cheney-Gates one?

Update Nico at Think Progress has details of a couple of Mullen's previous statements which endorse the notion of a "Long War" against terrorism. He also notes that, in announcing the nomination of Mullen this afternoon, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said that Mullen “watches Iran closely.”

This isn't too surprising. Gates himself is from the same "generational war" school which also views Iran as a long-term threat. After all, they've been harboring a grudge against Iran for a generation already.

The foreign policy feud in the White House, at the end of it, is between those who have realized that attacking Iran right now is insane and would rather wait for a better time and opportunity as opposed to the neocons who want to start that fight as soon as possible no matter what the state of the American military and are going out of their way to manufacture excuses for such an attack.

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