‘Highly Toxic Lethal Command Culture’ at Kadena Air Base Could Weaken U.S. Power in the Pacific

[[{“value”:”Image: Wikimedia Commons (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Located 400 miles off the coast of China, Kadena Air Base is largely considered the hub of U.S. airpower in the Asia-Pacific region. However, as claims about military leadership rise, its combat mission could be compromised.

The Gateway Pundit spoke to Jamie Walker, an Air Force member who has devoted many years to the defense of America. The service member used a pseudonym because of concern about reprisals and emphasized the views shared do not reflect those of the Department of Defense or Department of the Air Force.

While inside sources have shared the same experiences, Walker has also been a witness to the “highly toxic and lethal command culture” at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. Having worked for several commands in a variety of environments throughout a lengthy career, the service member has “never seen a level of dysfunction, mismanagement, and lack of oversight, as is chronically resident at the air base.”

Walker places the blame at the feet of the base’s special operations wing leadership. In the service member’s opinion, “Leadership is stagnant, risk-averse, and nearly always absent on official business trips, essentially doing nothing more than attempting to survive wing command because it’s the last steppingstone to general officer.”

“They’re never here, they’re leading by proxy,” Walker revealed. “They leave it to their deputies, to their staff.” As a result, “people who have no business being empowered are being given great empowerment in nearly every aspect of military affairs, often far beyond their capabilities, expertise, or experience.”

For Walker “This allows corrosion to fester and the subsequent decay allows vast overreach.” General Service (GS) civilian employees, and even civilian contractors, are being “given excessive power because command will not shoulder the responsibility,” the Air Force officer explained.

“Many of these unqualified people are making decisions that have an impact on unit climate and culture, and they’ve never even served in the military,” Walker lamented. “Some are even leading in areas that would require a clinical or educational background they do not possess.”

“Because they’re leading the people who are actually educated and credentialed in the field and who are the experts, their authority over them is questionable at best,” Walker said. “Their actions and demeanor are also toxic, and this combination requires them to rule with an iron fist to maintain control through fear.”

“This leadership by proxy has led to the mismanagement and misallocation of resources and personnel,” Walker said, adding that “the problem is magnified because there is a lack of oversight [from senior military leadership].” The circumstances have also enabled “fraud waste and abuse, and a culture of fear and frequent reprisal,” according to the member of the Air Force.

“There are daily examples of risk aversion by commanders ceding their power to lower ranking leaders, and even civilians, in an effort to avoid the decisions they should be making,” Walker said. “They’re doing the bare minimum to survive and move up, and they’re avoiding any responsibility for their subordinates’ actions.”

“We’re giving up our capabilities and training tools, destroying our special operations advantage,” Walker disclosed. “An understanding of special operations missions, vision, goals, and priorities no longer exists [at the 353rd Special Operations Wing],” according to the officer, warning that “this kind of mismanagement increases risk to the security of the Indo-Pacific theater.”

If senior military leadership fails to keep these things in order, and refuses to get operationally focused, Walker questions what impact their lack of ownership and cohesive strategy could have on America’s ability to deter strategic adversaries like China and North Korea.

Mission Jeopardized

Air Force Col. (Ret.) Rob Maness, a former bomber squadron commander with more than 30 years of service, expressed to The Gateway Pundit, “There is a very fine line between leaders delegating authority effectively and leadership by proxy.” Having served as a wing commander, he asserted that “personal leadership effectiveness required constant effort and flexibility.”

Maness understands that wing commanders are required to travel a lot, and for this reason, he said “it’s up to us to be the person on the base that gets the least amount of sleep.” Responsibility to his or her command must be prioritized. “If a commander is not out with the troops, even on the night shifts, on a consistent basis, his or her leadership feels remote or even non-existent,” he explained.

“Wing command also requires the mentorship and development of strong leaders in squadron command, group command, and vice wing positions by the person in the wing commander position,” he pointed out. “Those individuals are the face of command leadership, and if they are weak in these areas, can and do as much damage to mission accomplishment as the most senior commander.”

For Maness, command is about two things: being successfully prepared to complete the combat mission or completing the combat mission. “When tasked to do so,” he said, “a commander who is failing to lead as appears to be the case here [with Walker’s example], the mission is in jeopardy.”

Solution Forestalled

Emphasizing that his views don’t reflect those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army for fear of reprisals, Army Major Grant Smith said, “The scientific-technocratic methodologies of the managerial elite running our institutions have always had serious drawbacks.”

“In the private sector, these drawbacks are mitigated by the coordinating information provided by profit and loss,” he said. “Absent this information, government bureaucracy, including Department of Defense (DOD) is incapable of performing optimally towards achieving real-world objectives and always has been.”

According to Maj. Smith, “Walker’s comments demonstrate something has changed.” In the past, he said, “structural limitations were somewhat mitigated by having people in the positions of the most influence in the military being those who had served and commanded at all prior echelons.”

But now, Maj. Smith said, “Many of these commanders are de-facto subservient to bureaucrats with zero actual military experience, let alone command experience at echelon.” In his opinion, “A functional military can’t emerge from such a perverse constellation of incentives.”

In conclusion, he said, “The recent decision by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to discard the Schedule F concept indicates the federal bureaucracy is already making moves to forestall any political solution to this dire situation.” He explained, “[The Schedule F] concept would have streamlined the removal of incompetent—or even malicious—members of the civilian workforce in position to functionally dictate policy to commanders at echelon.”

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