Urgent! Read This!

19.11.10

Categorie: Accountability, David Axe |
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by DAVID AXE

Franz Gayl, a Marine Corps scientist, has fought hard over the years to get lifesaving gear to frontline troops. He even advanced a bold plan to end the Gulf oil spill earlier. For his heroic work, a resentful Marine bureaucracy has punished him, ultimately resulting in his firing, as described in this story. Please read it. It’s indicative of a lot that’s wrong in the U.S. military today. And if we can draw enough attention to Gayl’s plight, maybe we can do something about it.

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3 Responses to “Urgent! Read This!”

  1. Unfortunately, he committed a big “no-no”: putting a USB card in a classified computer was bad judgment in 2008 and looks like horrible judgment in 2010 after the Manning & StuxNet cases where USBs were the attack vector. Everyone who works with classified data knows that if you take it off a classified system it is supposed to be marked, secured, and tracked. What he did *was* at least careless and possibly worse. However, the remedy of completely stripping his clearance is probably too harsh.

  2. BrianMan says:

    He really likes to make everything public when things don’t go his way. Hero or not, he needs to stop whining and move on. Sorry dude but you f’d up.

  3. Joe Dixon says:

    I have sympathy for the situation, but not really for the man.

    My problem with Gayl is that, in advocating the use of MRAPs over Humvees, he was unnecessarily distancing American soldiers from the Afghan population (clearly not personally, but his advocating of the more heavily armoured vehicles did so), and this is a huge problem in counterinsurgency operations.

    My sympathy for Gayl is similar to my sympathy for General McChrystal. Both were fired for allegedly disrespecting an institution which prides itself on respect and the rigour of its hierarchy. Revoking Gayl’s security clearance, which, if I understand correctly, is largely a reified necessity, seems petulant, and could possibly be detrimental to military growth in the future (channeling “Learning to Eat Soup”), as was the firing of McChrystal.

    Furthermore, this from the Washington Post article makes me think that the US military is only in Afghanistan to test out new weapons.

    “The reality is that decisionmakers in the Pentagon’s requirements system were not enthusiastic about any additional armor, much less heavy, expensive MRAPs,” even though the vehicles would immediately save lives, three defense experts wrote in a study of the episode for the National Defense University in October 2009.

    This is a bad thing. The emphasis on saving lives and protecting individual soldiers is anathema to what real counterinsurgency and nation-building are about. Both are risky, both benefit from, and require, the deaths of counterinsurgent forces.

    It is unfortunate that Gayl lost his job, as the military has apparently lost a great flexible, original thinker. And while my concerns are not necessarily in line with those outlining potential for cyber attacks as the rationale, Gayl’s concerns–as a former Marine this would have been indoctrinated into him, so he is not necessarily entirely responsible for them–with protection of soldiers above all else has hindered the progress of the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

    Because of that, I have little sympathy for him.

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