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The Marines' new commandant has set the bar for real military reform

David Ignatius on

For Marines, war is personal -- intense physical combat. But Berger proposed a culture shift to "reduce exposure of Marines wherever possible," along with vulnerable platforms. He specified: "This means a significant increase in unmanned systems." Berger evidently had support from his predecessor, Gen. Robert Neller.

Describing future forces, Berger wrote something that every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should discuss in their next meeting in the "tank" at the Pentagon: "We must continue to seek the affordable and plentiful at the expense of the exquisite and few. ... The Marine Corps can no longer accept the inefficiencies inherent in antiquated legacy systems."

This rethink is the heart of the matter when it comes to reforming the military. The military systems we have now are wildly expensive, but increasingly unsuited to the adversaries of the future. America won't get the military it needs without radical change.

Some Marines are already grumbling about Berger's disruptive guidance, and their complaints will be amplified by the contractors that build the existing armada of exquisite amphibious-assault ships, and the members of Congress in districts where jobs might be lost.

Berger courageously has set the mark for real reform. Now we need similar creative thinking from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

 

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Follow David Ignatius on Twitter: @IgnatiusPost.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group


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