Tuesday, May 14, 2024

20 years ago I was pulled into the Secretary of Defense's staff to become the Staff Director of the Detainee Task Force - my final assignment in a Navy career that spanned from July 1975 - June 2006.  In fact, today (14 May) is the 20th Anniversary of my first day in that office.  I was in the Secretary of Defense's office at 0530 a.m. to meet Donald Henry Rumsfeld with MGEN Mike Maples, Special Assistant Preston M. Geren and my (soon to be) assistant (a Presidential Management Fellow) Sarah Nagelmann.  For the next two years, we would make a trip through hell and back.  It was an unpleasant and painful journey for all of us - Secretary Rumsfeld endured the worst of it.  He was accountable for the sadistic behavior of soldiers he led six or seven levels down the chain of command.  Everything that happened in the Department of Defense (good or bad) was his responsibility.  The hell of the Abu Ghraib scandal was the worst possible thing to occur on "his watch" and he suffered immensely for policies he inherited from others.  Every bad policy in the military services during his tenure as Secretary of Defense was attributed to this singular human being.  He offered his resignation to the President twice during this period and the President did not accept it.  It was a privilege to be in the same room with this man.  In my 30 years of service in the United States Navy, this letter was the highest honor I received. 

1 comment:

Ben F said...

I was thankful you were in that assignment for your final tour, as you took time out of your busy day in 2005 to interview a young Chief Petty Officer (CTA), for the LDO/CWO program, who was in DC for pre-deployment training, prior to heading to Iraq. We never met prior to that day, but your interview was thorough and thought-provoking for me. Fast-forward six months later when the results posted and I was selected for Chief Warrant Officer (based partially on your Appraisal Sheet for me). Thank you again for your support and words of wisdom that day. V/r. CWO5 USN, Ret