PEN­TAGON’S YODA TO RE­TIRE

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

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.

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