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But up front: Does hero worship of the military get in the way of good policy?
A thought provoking column in The Washington Post over the weekend by Benjamin Summers a captain in the U.S. Army, who noted that the expressed are his own.
I have worn an Army uniform for the past eight years and deployed twice to Afghanistan. This doesn’t make me a hero… Applying the label “hero” to those of us who haven’t earned it diminishes the service and sacrifice of those who did. It also gets in the way of constructive debate and policymaking…
Too often, policymakers frame discussion of whether to cut the military budget as being for or against the troops; the political battle over the military portion of the sequester is an example of this black-or-white mind-set. But any bureaucracy — particularly one that doesn’t function with a profit-and-loss mentality — can innovate and gain efficiencies when it’s forced to do more with less. If we’re not searching for opportunities to fix, clean and trim our organizations, we’re not being good stewards of them. When we can’t have political discussions that dig beneath the blanket of “for or against the troops,” palatability wins over stewardship. And one of our nation’s most precious resources suffers the long-term consequences.”
The issue seems particularly acute to me around military pay, which Pentagon officials have repeatedly said needs to be re-examined to no avail.
Most people in government would love to face the challenge of hero worship, I’m sure.
The SEVEN stories that impact your life
USA Today: Economy shrank 2.9% in 1Q, worst drop since '09- “The U.S. economy turned in its worst quarter in five years during the first three months of 2014, shrinking more sharply than previously estimated. The nation's gross domestic product in the first quarter fell at a 2.9% annual rate vs. the 1% contraction previously believed, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a 1.8% drop in output.”
Military Times: Campbell tapped to be next Afghanistan commander- “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday announced nominations for three senior officers for top jobs. Army Gen. John Campbell, vice chief of staff of the Army, has been nominated to lead the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel has been nominated to receive a fourth star and to take over U.S. Special Operations Command. He is the head of Joint Special Operations Command. Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, head of Fleet Forces Command, has been nominated to lead U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Federal Times: Senate panel boosts IRS funding for 2015- “The House and Senate have a fundamental disagreement on funding for the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS would receive a $236 million funding boost under legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on financial services June 24.”
Government Executive: What DHS is Doing About the Flood of Kids Crossing the Southwest Border- “The Homeland Security Department on Tuesday spelled out a 14-prong plan for confronting the sudden influx of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America into Southwestern states, a refugee challenge that a House committee chairman blamed on Obama administration short-sightedness in its immigration policies.”
Nextgov: CIA CIO Opens Up About Amazon Cloud- “Before Central Intelligence Agency Chief Information Officer Douglas Wolfe on Tuesday delivered his keynote address at the Amazon Web Services government symposium in Washington, D.C., he prefaced his remarks. “This is not something we have traditionally done or naturally would do, but I think it’s very important,” he said”
Federal Times: Agency heads hash out critical infrastructure protection roles- “Top cybersecurity leaders in government are now hashing out how various cybersecurity-related agencies will handle the mission to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.”
Federal News Radio: Senate lawmakers to extend greater power to CIOs- “Senate lawmakers will propose major changes to how federal chief information officers oversee IT investments, including giving them full budget authority and approval over all IT contracts. In their version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, will offer an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the House's version of FITARA at a committee markup Wednesday.”
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CIA expands spy work through Amazon cloud [The Financial Times] The Central Intelligence Agency is boosting its reliance on Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud infrastructure as U.S. spymasters rely on cloud-based commercial software in their analytical work. The CIA’s work with Amazon has been seen as an endorsement of the security and reliability of Amazon Web Services.
Goldman Sachs updates World Cup predictions, with new finalist and promotion for Team USA [The Wall Street Journal] Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are getting hammered. Some of the bank’s economists had analyzed reams of data to predict the outcome of every World Cup game. But they did not factor in unpredictability. Of the 36 games played so far, Goldman has had a 36.11% success rate in predicting the outcome, the Journal’s Neelabh Chaturvedi reports. Economists at ING Group are worse off. They predicted Spain to go all the way. Data’s loss is our gain. So far, it’s been a great World Cup.