And we’re back! Thoughts on new Cyber Command deputy

Closed out the semester at school this week, so I should have more time to post things here now.  First thing I wanted to talk about was a recent general officer announcement that caught my eye yesterday:

Defense.gov News Release: Flag Officer Announcements.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert E. Schmidle Jr. for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command.  Maj. Gen. Schmidle is currently serving as assistant deputy commandant for programs and resources (programs) in Washington, D.C.

First, this is a good thing for the Marine Corps.  It’s useful for us as an institution to have our senior officers serving at high levels amongst the various combatant and sub-unified commands.  For instance, right now we’ve got one Marine general serving as Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, and I know of at least one other Marine three-star (besides the new one announce above) who is serving as a combatant command deputy commander (at Central Command).  Of course, we also have Gen Cartwright, former U.S. Strategic Command commander, who is the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Secondly, the selection of General Schmidle for Deputy, U.S. Cyber Command it a bit odd…I mean, the man is a career pilot!  What specific knowledge about cyber operations does he have?  Well, as it turns out, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot.  Seems that even at the senior officer ranks, it’s often the requirement that a person bring “general-purpose smarts” and adaptability to a position, not that the absolute perfect expert in a particular field or discipline be magically assigned to the job in question.  It’s clear to me that this has long been the case at the junior officer ranks; I am beginning to see that it does not change as one moves up the ladder.

Also, if for some reason you think that I was calling General Schmidle a dummy or disparaging pilots in general, that is most certainly not the case.  A brief glance at Schmidle’s bio shows you that he has a proven record of success in challenging assignments  apart from flying and command jobs that require a fair amount of grey matter activity.  For example, he’s a distinguished graduate of both intermediate and top-level professional military education schools, and he is currently pursuing a PhD from Georgetown during his “off time.”  He’s been involved with some of the Marine Corps’ most prominent warfighting experiments, served as military secretary to a pair of Marine commandants, and most recently, was the Marine Corps’ lead representative for the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

There’s nothing in there about computer network operations, or any cyber this, that, or the other.  But it won’t matter.  General Schmidle is a well-educated, smart, adaptable leader who will do a great job as the Cyber Command deputy and learn a lot in the process.

Congratulations, Lieutenant General!

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2 Responses to “And we’re back! Thoughts on new Cyber Command deputy”

  1. On Cyberwar with China, and other recent publications « Facing China Says:

    […] to take concrete steps now to really protect these vital information channels. Sure, the U.S. has established a formal joint command to deal with cyber issues, but in many cases the lines of responsibility have not been clearly drawn and require further […]

  2. Conant to return to USPACOM « Facing China Says:

    […] I just caught this news while trolling DoD news releases, even though it has been out on the street for almost a month. Major General Thomas L. Conant, USMC, currently Commanding General, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in California, has been nominated to be the deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, the U.S. combatant command for this neck of the woods. This is fantastic news, for General Conant has been at PACOM before (as the Director of Strategic Policy Planning [J5]) and is well-versed in the significant issues of the region. Plus, from a service point of view, it gives us (Marines) one more highly-placed general officer in the various regional and functional commands. (Last time I posted on this topic, we were taking the deputy spot at U.S. Cyber Command.) […]

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