So Navy Times scribe Phil Ewing sat down with me the other day to discuss blogging, the ex-USS Iowa, naval history and blogging. The result was a Scoop Deck interview, entitled “Hanging’ with Dr. Hooper“. If you want to know why I do this–and why I’m retiring the old “Defense Springboard” alias, go pay Scoop Deck a visit.

In the interview, we discussed how blogging has become a means to for new defense policy/national security talent to emerge. Having the trillion-dollar defense industry tied to three or four oft-quoted defense commentators is not healthy. The community needs a more voices–whose views are not compromised by where they’re getting their paycheck.

In the interview, I threw down a marker for those big-league defense commentators:

“…what I’d like to sort of try and be is the anti-Loren Thompson. Loren is a great source, a smart person, but he’s become so ensnared in his competing interests, it’s difficult to take him credibly [a good example is here].”

Uh…can you hear us bloggers now, Loren? Or are you at the beach?

(To be honest, I’ve been Loren bashing a long time–back before it was cool to do so. Here’s some coverage of Loren contradicting himself on the LCS back in September 16, 2009 and Loren doing a ex-SECNAV Winter apologia from early 2008. In my mind, good, solid debate makes for better strategies and better weapons…but when paid flacks enter the public sphere they, more often than not, protect errors and work to sustain mistakes.)

In the interview I pushed back on the choke-hold Washington, DC holds on defense policy debates. That’s normal–DC is the center of gravity, where the decision-makers live. But over-centralization leads to group-think and limits input. So, in my mind, it’s good to build and maintain separate, independent centers of defense policy expertise.

Let’s put it this way. San Francisco isn’t exactly synonymous with defense expertise–but it’s growing–from scratch–a community of defense policy people:

“…doing it out here in San Francisco has been great. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this. We’re starting to build a policy community where there wasn’t one. We’ve got Kyle Mizokami, he’s blogging about the Japanese navy and the Japanese self defense force; we have Christopher Albon [note: when he’s not off doing thesis research in Africa]. It’s neat to build a competing center to provide a little bit of a a reality check on the Beltway bloggers, so to speak.”

San Francisco doesn’t have a critical mass of defense policy expertise available–yet. But in a few years, who knows? Wait and see…

Finally, well, we discussed civil-military communication. Though the military has made enormous progress in engaging, it still has a way to go:

“…When the military loses its ability to communicate itself and its ideas in a patient way, that’s disturbing. That weakens the very fabric of our nation. It’s tremendously important for the military to learn how to engage and explain itself to its citizens. In this era of complex weapons, of projects, of complex strategies, it really needs to go the extra mile and tell its message. Anything I can do in that regard, I feel like, is time well spent…”

And time well spent it is….Go read the interview. And if you want more perspective on this interview–my politics and the like, go check out and read about it over there.

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  • “Uh…can you hear us bloggers now, Loren?”


    What arrogance.

    First the assault on Michael Yon now this? I think that some bloggers are beginning to overstate their own importance. Blogging is suppose to be a place of ideas, not a place to further careers.

    I think you gentlemen are forgetting the times in which you live. This type of self congratulatory nonsense might have been fashionable in the 90’s…maybe even two years ago. But not today.

    As for your political views in relation to defense issues? No thank you.

  • Ah, well, Sol–My definition of blogging is very different from yours, I guess. But that’s the fun of Web 2.0. It’s totally undefined…

    But with Admirals, Generals–even Loren Thompson (who, by the way, is a blogger who started his blogging career…by attacking milbloggers!), blogging and the blogosphere is where careers and ideas (and a lot of other stuff) mix.

    And, just FYI, I didn’t participate in the Yon blogstorm. Have some opinions on Yon, but…I sure didn’t express ’em online.

  • Arrogance? Soloman – I don’t think you are qualified enough to make such a comment. 😉

    BTW – DS is right about Loren. When a spectrum from DS, to David Axe and ‘ole Sal all agree – you may want to consider the validity of the complaint.

    You also get the Michael Yon thing wrong. It was not an assault – it was an intervention. Big difference.

    There; I now have my yearly “Defend Hoop” quota complete for the year. Whew, glad that is over! 😉

  • Better you than me, Phib.

  • Awww, Chap, don’t be a hater…

  • And hey, CDR! Thanks man! Your check is in the mail!

    (and yeah, when the two ends of the political spectrum (me and Sal agree? Egad…) emphatically agree, it’s one strong indicator that the course has been correctly plotted…)