More Counterinsurgents Join the Obama Pentagon

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 5:06 pm

A couple of months ago, as part of my counterinsurgency series, I pointed out that an impressive number of women were in positions of leadership in the emergent defense field. What continues to be impressive is that a lot of them have gone into the Obama administration. Michele Flournoy, of course, is undersecretary of defense for policy. Sarah Sewall helped run the national security transition and is likely to enter the administration at some point. As far as I’m aware, Montgomery McFate is still in charge of the Pentagon’s Human Terrain System, a project that uses anthropology tools to better understand tribal cultures. And now, Laura Rozen reports, Janine Davidson is becoming deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and planning.

If true — Davidson wouldn’t respond to an IM that I thought was jocular but still appropriate — it’s a great choice, particularly from the perspective of putting more of the national security burden onto civilian agencies. Davidson was a key figure in setting up the Consortium for Complex Operations, an inter-agency portal for counterinsurgents around the government to work together ahead of deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. She’s all about a whole-of-government approach.

Also, according to Rozen, men got jobs at the Pentagon as well, which I understand is the norm for the Obama administration more broadly. Notable male counterinsurgents entering the Defense Department include Phil Carter, the much-published author, Iraq veteran and attorney, who’ll become deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee issues — which, given Phil’s expertise on civil liberties, is great news for the forthcoming detention-policy review — and Craig Mullaney, an Afghanistan veteran and newly-published author, who’ll become deputy assistant secretary of defense for Central Asia. These guys are young, and both were active in the Obama campaign’s veterans-outreach effort.

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