Thursday, March 23, 2006

A "Presidential Sargeant Major."

John Manchester at "Chester" suggests a new military position:

" Hugh Hewitt: . . . Michael Yon, when you do go back, which part of the country are you headed to? Are you going to embed with another unit like the Infantry division you were with a year ago?

Michael Yon: Well, I've already contacted Sergeant Major Mellinger, who's the top enlisted man in the theater, meaning he is the top enlisted man in Iraq. And he goes everywhere. I've been out with him twice before, and I call him the University of Iraq, because he seems to know everything that's going on. So I'd like to spend a couple of weeks with him, getting in-briefed again about the new state of the country, because he speaks very bluntly. And then after that, I'll go to probably where the action is. I tend to go to where our troops are seeing the most combat, but then I pop out sometimes, and go to the peaceful areas. But I want to know how our troops are doing."

Now tie it all together. You can see it, yes? What the President needs is his own Sergeant Major - a directed telescope on the battlefield reporting directly to him. Not his staff, not the White House Spokesman or the Press Pool. The chain goes straight to The Man himself.

This is not hard to envision. Grab any of a number of Sergeants Major out there who are now retired. They have made careers of making gut calls in all manner of odd situations. Grab a guy who used to be in Delta Force, or the 1st Marine Division SgtMaj. You could grab an officer if you preferred (ahem: my email address is in the sidebar), but if it was me, I'd have a senior enlisted man, the type who's harder than woodpecker lips. Whoever he is, he must be able to communicate very very very well. Then give him an armored four door humvee, a translator, and a couple of shooters to be a mini-brute squad. That's all he'll want if he's the kind I have in mind. He can always hop on a bird if needs to. Get him some nice equipment too -- a camera, a sat phone, etc.

Then set him loose. Tell him to go to whatever is interesting and report whatever he thinks necessary. Give him no format whatsoever. No timeframes whatsoever. Or, if you know of a particular operation that needs checking up on, send him there.

One more thing he needs: a little letter signed by POTUS that says, "This man may go wherever he wishes. Do not impede him." He can laminate that and put it in his vest and that's all he'll need for access.

The cost of all this is miniscule compared to the added channel of insight that the President would have to the events on the ground. He can then make better decisions, question his subordinates a little more pointedly, but most importantly, be very prepared to refute, clarify, and offer counternarratives to the press."


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