Grappling with the Gray

Grappling with the Gray #78: In the Secretary's defense?

January 31, 2024 Yonason Goldson
Grappling with the Gray
Grappling with the Gray #78: In the Secretary's defense?
Show Notes

Does the appearance of chaos promote chaos?

That's the question the ethics panel takes up this episode of Grappling with the Gray.
Here is our topic:

The recent disappearance of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin from the White House chain of command sent tremors through Washington and the country.

On January 2, shortly after returning home from an apparently successful procedure, the secretary experienced unexpected pain and returned to the hospital.

Pentagon officials were informed the secretary has been hospitalized, and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, on vacation in Puerto Rico, was informed she would be assuming additional duties but was not informed of the secretary’s hospitalization.

Throughout this period, the National Security Council, Defense Department and State Department were formulating a response to a military threat from Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, which culminated in a retaliatory strike on Baghdad on January 4, the same day President Biden was informed that Secretary Austin was back in the hospital.

According to some experts, there was never a significant breakdown in the chain of command. Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta agrees, but adds that there is a need for a more formally defined policy to ensure clear communication. According to Mr. Panetta, the administration “dodged a bullet.”

Even if we assume no harm, no foul, does the appearance of disorganization create a sense of insecurity among the American people, embolden our enemies, and create the potential for self-fulfilling prophecy? Even when there are no immediate consequences, don’t avoidable blunders project a lack of competence that can accelerate the erosion of standards? Or are occasional errors inevitable and excusable, as long as they serve to shore up lapses in procedural policy?

Meet this week’s panelists:

JC Glick is a retired Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel. He is a leadership, strategy, and culture advisor, as well as an author and TEDx speaker.

Mark O’Brien is founder and principal of O’Brien Communications Group, a B2B brand-management and marketing-communications firm — and host of The Anxious Voyage, a syndicated radio show about life’s trials and triumphs.

Peter Winick works with individuals and organizations to build and grow revenue streams through their thought leadership platforms and is host of the Leveraging Thought Leadership podcast.