Danger Room features an on-the-ground look at one of the foundations of the AfPak war–cargo operations:
The mobility guys pretty have at least eight different jobs. They’ve got a FedEx-like operation that moves cargo from point A to point B, by a certain guaranteed date. There’s the wartime equivalent of an airline reservations office, delivering gear and passengers when they can – usually within 72 hours. (An “itinerary” is developed for, say, 200 Army troops from Fort Benning to Talil; passengers are booked in a system most similar to budget airlines like Ryanair or Southwest and no, you don’t get to pick your seat.) They run an executive charter service, transporting generals and other “distinguished visitors,” or “DVs.” They evacuate injured troops. They manage a fleet of contracted airhaulers, spending up to $6 million a day on outsized or inconvenient loads, often carried by massive Russian cargo jets. And they drop giant crates of gear out of the sky, to stock isolated bases.
That last task has grown exponentially, with the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Lousy roads and unforgiving landscapes make traditional convoys and cargo runs difficult, at best. Since 2005, there’s been an 800% increase in air drops – from two to three per week to seven to eight per day. In July, they had 1,700 air drops over Afghanistan. That’s the most since the start of the Afghan conflict, in 2001.
That doesn’t sound terribly sexy, but it’s a convincing argument for the continuing dominance of logistics as a strategic factor in warfare. One wonders what practices have filtered into private industry, and vice versa.
Politico fronts this story today:
This constellation of talent, however, has something of a black hole. There is virtually no one on Obama’s team with outsized achievements or a high-profile reputation earned in the world of business.
There are no former CEOs in the Obama Cabinet. And among the people who make up his daily inner circle, there is only a dollop or two of top-level private sector experience.
Whether it is a signifcant absence, however, is far more debatable. As it happens, only a small number of the business leaders in recent administrations were stand-outs. And several were ostentatious flops. It would be hard to argue that there is a close correlation between success in business and success in Washington.
Still, some long-time White House observers find it noteworthy that when Obama convenes his best minds, there will be few people who have answered to shareholders as well as voters — people who know by intuition how the business community is likely to react to any given day’s news.
I have wondered about this myself. Putting aside the certainty of breathtaking cuts in pay–one would think that extraordinarily wealthy CEOs would be honored to add service to country to their legacies–it seems… Obama-like… to include some big-name corporate talent to the administration, especially in light of the financial crisis and what I predict will be an inevitable reorganization of significant parts of government. Certainly it would send a message if the usual suspects such as Gates, Jobs, Welch, etc. rushed to the aid of their country.
There are a few personal favorites I would nominate, among them
These are purely personal picks. None of them is perfect, but they are all achievers in their own right. It isn’t necessarily a must to bring CEO talent into the White House–John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, thinks the administration has done a good job in reaching out to business–but any of these would be certain to leave an imprint.
[Note: I recognize that my list is lily-white and male. I would expect this to shift in the next few years.]
Posted in Current Events, Decision-making
Tagged Alcoa, Andy Grove, business, CEO, Eric Schmidt, FedEx, financial crisis, Fred Smith, Google, intel, Kelleher, Larry Bossidy, Obama, Paul O'Neill, Southwest Airlines