Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Obama & McPeak

Today we learn that one of the big advisers to Obama....is former Air Force General McPeak. For those who don't remember him.....he was selected days before the first Iraq war.....to replace a brand-new 4 star general.....who had mouthed off about tactics and targets....and the secretary of defense fired him. So they brought McPeak onboard.

So a moment to introduce Gen McPeak. He is one of the lesser regarded generals in the past twenty-five years of the Air Force. His thing was to jump-start change....like tossing a bolt of lightning onto a lake of gas. He was the guy who brought TQM (total quality management) into the Air Force. Everyone ran around tossing out regulations and written manuals.....then eighteen months later....they all woke up and realized that they didn't have written regulations to cover half of the operations in the Air Force.

McPeak brought dozens upon dozens of changes to the Air Force uniform.....then over half of the changes were undone within twelve months....and others were retooled or redone again within another two years. His junior officers often made the joke that he was more of a "fashion designer" than a "role model". Bring up the famous "ice cream" suit that he made field grade officers buy ($1000 for the whole outfit and fitting).......and the thing was retired within three years because of a huge dislike by the senior leadership.

McPeak is the original genus who dreamed up the "reorg-upon-reorg-upon-reorg-upon-reorg" concept. This is where you have over 2,000 individuals on a daily basis in the Air Force.....dreaming of the next reorganization and spending their entire duty day accomplishing this.

McPeak's entire management style is that you simply need to keep busy....anyway possible.....even if you are doing totally unproductive work. The objective is to have projects on your plate and look busy. From a morale prospective....he was a "10" on the joke scale....with almost his entire time as the chief of the Air Force.....spent on "fixing" everything and instead screwed virtually everything up.

In today's world? Well....Gen McPeak is the guy who supports Indonesia in East Timor (kind of a poor demonstrator of human rights, but maybe he doesn't have much grasp of that). In terms of the Iraq war....his statements have often indicated to quickly pack and leave as soon as possible. Most folks regard his lack of strategic vision, as his biggest weakness....which is demonstrated over and over with the "change-the -change-of-the-change-of-the-change" mentality. If something doesn't work.....we go to plan B...then plan C....then plan D. Rather than think ahead....he limits his vision, and settles for anything.

The feeling amongst those in the Air Force who remember him? Most start to laugh when its suggested he might be coming into the White House. Some officers would likely call it a career and just leave....if he were to be a major player in the Pentagon in the Obama administration.

My personal guess is that he will be coming into the Obama staff.....as some type of foreign adviser, and probably terminated within eighteen months for opinions that differ greatly from the CIA, State Department and the Pentagon. Busy work won't work in their state of mind...and they won't allow some retired general to suggest 1,000 changes. Obama will have to take the guy into the first year, but thats as far as he ever gets.