Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Explaining Two Hats and an Open Mind

Lots of alarm today after Admiral Stavridis, the NATO military chief [SACEUR]  (and the head of US forces in Europe) stated in his annual appearances before Congress (in response to much prodding) that there might be boots on the ground.  What did SACEUR say? "the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”  What a ringing endorsment!  Um, not so much.  It would have been irresponsible to say anything else.  Of course, the politicians can change their minds and ask for some NATO capability on the ground.  Note, NATO. 

Part of the confusion is that Stavridis wears two hats--the senior military leader of NATO and the combatant commander of US forces in Europe.  He explained this quite well in his blog.  He was not telling Congress that the US would be putting troops into Libya, contradicting the US commander-in-chief (Obama).  He was telling Congress as the head of NATO's military that it is possible.  Not likely, not probably, but possible.  As someone who regularly loses poker hands that have a 87% chance or better to win, I appreciate the Admiral's grasp of the possible.  To say otherwise would be a lie or hopelessly naive.  I prefer my four star officers to be honest and not so naive.  Don't you?

Let me know if I need to extend this rant.

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