While the rumor mill had Defense Secretary Robert Gates staying on and insisting that his main team stay with him, the mill is now grinding out reports that none of Gates' team will stay on, not even his deputy, Gordon England.
Along with England, it now appears likely we'll see John Young, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, who is well liked and respected by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, depart. Some analysts had argued that Gates and Young made a good team, bringing accountability to both commanders and to companies. They noted his experience as a Capitol Hill staffer and his willingness to work long hours and make decisions that upset defense contractors as more proof he might stay on. But the mill now appears to have crushed that line of reasoning.
On the subject of new administration hires, let's look at retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones, whom Obama officially announced today as his national security advisor. Jones brings one really interesting background to his new job: energy. Jones knows and cares about the impact of energy on the military, whether it's the cost of fuels or the weight and power generating capability of batteries because of his experience commanding troops in Europe and as commandant of the Marine Corps.
But he also has served as president and chief executive of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jones' organization produced a transition energy plan that basically argued for more energy sources of all types. Of course, anything that expands the number of energy sources would end up reducing the country's lopsided reliance on petrochemical fuels. And that would have long-lasting impact on our foreign policy and military relations. Of course, the question is how quickly would anything happen on this front.
Nevertheless, it seems certain that Jones would bring a unique perspective on energy to this job, one in which energy has usually been something the Secretary of State and the Energy Secretary deal with. Now there's a good chance the enormous weight of the national security community may be more closely involved. How it may all play out is difficult to judge.