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Advising Foreign Forces with “Chipp” Naylon

Combat troops tend to get the majority of the attention in the coverage of our overseas wars. But there is an often-overlooked cadre of troops that perform a key role in our overseas campaigns and can affect both the duration and outcome of a conflict. The United States has a long history with military advisors. Soldiers in the Continental Army were on the receiving end when the Marquis de Lafayette and Baron von Steuben worked with them to increase their effectiveness on the battlefield....


Tactical Decision Games with Bruce Gudmundsson and Don Vandergriff

Military leaders are faced with a dilemma unique among the professions. While doctors get to practice medicine, architects get to design buildings, and educators get to teach students on a daily basis, military professionals spend the vast majority of their careers preparing to do a job they rarely, and in some fortunate cases, never have to actually perform. This makes the education and training of military leaders that much more important. They need to be ready to perform at their peak...


Classifying John Boyd with Chuck Spinney

Military scholars and practitioners continue to debate the significance and merit of John Boyd’s ideas more than 20 years after his death. Colonel Boyd is the legendary Air Force fighter pilot who, in addition to revolutionizing aerial combat tactics and aircraft design, also changed the way Americans think about conflict and warfare. He profoundly influenced the Marine Corps’ maneuver warfare doctrine and helped shape the ground campaign that led to the rapid defeat of the Iraqi Army during...


F-35 Far From Ready

The Navy’s version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, recently declared ready for combat, has netted unacceptably low “fully mission capable” rates—meaning it’s in fact almost never fully ready for combat—according to a document obtained by the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). The fact that the Navy is pushing ahead with the aircraft in spite of evidence that it is not ready for combat and could therefore put at risk missions, as well as the troops...


Mission Command with Bruce Gudmundsson and Don Vandergriff

Former Army Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey issued a challenge to the Army in 2012 to change its institutional culture. In his transformative “Mission Command White Paper,” he wrote that “education and training are keys to achieving the habit of mission command; our doctrine must describe it, our schools must teach it, and we must train individually and collectively to it.” But what is mission command? Its origins are found in the Prussian military reforms during the first decade of the...


Program Helps Marine Officers Develop Decision-Making Skills

Instructors at The Basic School, the Marine Corps’ six-month-long course for all newly commissioned officers, are using training methods used in institutions like Harvard Business School and Columbia University to make better decision-makers. The Case Method Project at Quantico, Virginia, uses decision-forcing exercises, or scenarios used to place students in the role of a person facing a difficult problem.


Who Killed LT Van Dorn

Navy LT Wes Van Dorn raised concerns for years about the safety of the MH-53E helicopters in his squadron. Aging equipment and shoddy maintenance plagued the entire fleet for years which he believed seriously jeopardized the lives of his crew. Tragically, he was proven correct when faulty wiring sparked a fire in his helicopter, causing it to crash off the coast of Virginia on January 8, 2014. LT Van Dorn, LT Sean Snyder, and Petty Officer Brian Collins all died from their injuries. This...


F-35 Program Cutting Corners to “Complete” Development

Officials in the F-35 Joint Program Office are doing paper reclassifications of potentially life-threatening design flaws to make them appear less serious, likely in an attempt to prevent the $1.5 trillion program from missing another schedule deadline and budget cap. The Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a document showing how F-35 officials are recategorizing—rather than fixing—major design flaws to be able to claim they have completed...


Jamie Schwandt, Grading the Army’s Staff College

After receiving his grades from the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Major Jamie Schwandt decided to assign his own grades for the instructors and the institution itself. He did not paint a flattering portrait of the school. He took issue with the school’s leadership, the course content, and even the method of taking attendance. When he published his assessment, the blog provoked a vigorous online debate. Many people agreed with his views, but at least as many came to the defense of...


Jeff Groom, Disillusioned Helicopter Pilot

Jeff Groom, a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, recently published a highly satirical, and occasionally irreverent, account of his experiences in uniform, American Cobra Pilot: A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show. He talks with POGO’s Jack Shanahan Military Fellow Dan Grazier about his transition from being a highly motivated and idealistic young officer to one who critically appraised the state of the current force. He also discusses life as a pilot who flies far fewer hours than he...


F-35: No Finish Line in Sight

The F-35 has now entered an unprecedented seventeenth year of continuing redesign, test deficiencies, fixes, schedule slippages, and cost overruns. And it’s still not at the finish line. Numerous missteps along the way—from the fact that the two competing contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, submitted “flyoff” planes that were crude and undeveloped “technology demonstrators” rather than following the better practice of submitting fully functional prototypes, to concurrent acquisition...


Pierre Sprey and the Birth of the A-10, Part II

The A-10 has proven itself to be one of the most venerable and capable aircraft in the U.S. arsenal. It is also an aircraft most people in the Air Force never wanted, and they have spent years actively working to send it to the scrap yard. It is the first aircraft ever designed from the very beginning to be solely dedicated to supporting ground troops. Generations of American soldiers and Marines have come to love the jet for its unique abilities to free them from jams and help accomplish...


Pierre Sprey and the Birth of the A-10

The A-10 has proven itself to be one of the most venerable and capable aircraft in the US arsenal. It is also an aircraft most people in the Air Force never wanted and have spent years actively working to send it to the scrap yard. It is the first aircraft every designed from the very beginning to be solely dedicated to supporting ground troops. Generations of American soldiers and Marines have come to love the jet for its unique abilities to free them from jams and to help accomplish the...


$21 Billion Worth of Concurrency Orphans?

Congress has authorized—and the Pentagon has spent—nearly $40 billion purchasing approximately 189 F-35s that, in their current configuration, will never be able to perform the way they were expected to when taxpayer dollars were used to buy them. This is hardly the right way to do business. POGO’s Jack Shanahan Military Fellow Dan Grazier explores and explains this problem further.


Don Vandergriff on Mission Command

The doctrine of both the Army and Marine Corps are based on a foundation of mission command, a leadership philosophy where commanders tell subordinates what they want done but allow the subordinate leaders to figure out how to do it. For such a leadership philosophy to work, the entire organizational culture must be optimized for that, to include the personnel system. Don Vandergriff, a retired soldier and author, has dedicated his career to pushing these ideas. Here he talks about what...


Bruce Gudmundsson on the Importance of History

Secretary of Defense James Mattis once wrote, “Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.” He wrote this to impart the importance for military professionals to study history. In this episode, Dr. Bruce Gudmundsson, a historian at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA talks...


Mark Thompson and the Military Industrial Circus

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Thompson has a 4 decade-long perspective covering the Pentagon. He brings this experience to the Center for Defense Information and POGO with his new column, the Military Industrial Circus.


F - 35 Still Stumbling Podcast

DOT&E Releases Analysis and It Isn’t Pretty President Trump called the F-35 “fantastic.” It appears he didn’t read the latest brutally honest report from the Pentagon’s testing office. POGO wades through the complicated language of the report to show there are still many unresolved problems with the program. The F-35 still has a long way to go before it will be ready for combat. That was the parting message of Dr. Michael Gilmore, the now-retired Director of Operational Test and Evaluation,...


Dr. Tim Kane’s Total Volunteer Force

Dr. Tim Kane speaks to CDI’s Dan Grazier about his recommendations to modernize the Pentagon’s antiquated personnel system. No other issue has the potential to fundamentally reform the military than optimizing the way the Pentagon manages the men and women in uniform. Yet little has been done to update a system which has roots deeply set in early industrial age concepts of management science from more than a century ago. Military personnel today are treated by the Pentagon’s bureaucracy as...


The Creation of Warfighting, with John Schmitt

When the Marine Corps needed a new capstone document to capture its emerging warfighting philosophy in the 1980s, the person chosen to draft it was not a general, but a junior officer, then-captain John Schmitt. He explains how he came to write one of the most widely read military documents in the world today on the latest episode of Pentagon Labyrinth. Pentagon Labyrinth is hosted by Dan Grazier. Music: "Without Limits" by Ross Bugden