PENTAGON’S YODA TO RETIRE
Andrew Marshall, longtime director of the Pentagon’s future warfare strategy center known as the Office of Net Assessment, will step down in January.
“For over four decades, Andy Marshall has been one of the United States’ leading national security thinkers, anticipating future threats and realizing opportunities that others often missed,” Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces, said in a statement on the retirement. “Through the strategists he mentored and advanced, Dr. Marshall’s legacy of analytical rigor and strategic foresight will continue for decades to come.”
Mr. Forbes urged the Net Assessment shop to maintain its role as a leader of strategic innovation and thinking without Mr. Marshall, who turned 93 last month.
The planned retirement was first reported by Defense News. A Pentagon spokeswoman said she had no announcement to make on Mr. Marshall’s status.
Considered a gifted strategic thinker, Mr. Marshall was dubbed the Pentagon’s “Yoda,” after the “Star Wars” Jedi master. He created the office in 1973 under the Office of the Secretary of Defense and achieved the remarkable bureaucratic feat of remaining its only director through a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations.
In 2011, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was asked by Inside the Ring about rumors that Mr. Marshall would be replaced. “Andy Marshall? No, he’s an institution,” Mr. Panetta said.
Mr. Marshall had admirers and detractors, and was influential in changing Pentagon and U.S. military bureaucratic thinking on several strategic issues, notably China.
During the 1990s, Mr. Marshall used annual U.S. war games to coax the Navy into adopting a more realistic posture on the growing threat from China’s military, which had been downplayed by proChina advocates in government and in academia.
One defense source said, however, that Mr. Marshall reversed course on China as a result of pressure from liberal Obama administration policymakers.
Beginning in the 2000s, he spent an estimated $4 million on contractor studies that sought to portray China as a nonthreatening power or one so beset by problems that it poses little long-term threat, according to the source familiar with the studies.
Additionally, many of the Office of Net Assessment’s war games involving China scenarios were canceled.
“He was trying to show he mended his ways,” said a defense official. “And it didn’t work. His office became split over China between those who view China as a threat and those who regard China as a benign power.”
Another criticism of Net Assessment under Mr. Marshall is that the office did not devote enough resources to dealing with strategies supporting the war on terrorism.
Mr. Marshall, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed.