#Monday Musings: Phil Walter

"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.

1 — Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?

A teammate and I once had a conversation with General Stanley A. McChrystal. It was just the three of us. The topic is immaterial, but I walked away with a new outlook on how the departments and agencies within the Executive Branch of the United States Government interact with each other. The biggest eye opener for me was when General McChrystal described how some processes that govern how departments and agencies interact are purposely designed to be inefficient. Though this may at times be frustrating, often there was a greater good that could come from it. To this day I always try to find opportunities for good within the bureaucracy whenever possible.

2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?

My most recent favorite is “The Hawk and the Dove” by Nicholas Thompson. It was fascinating to read about the interactions between Paul Nitze and George Kennan. They both had strong opinions regarding how the United States should address the threat posed by the United Soviet Socialist Republics. Paul Nitze advocated for the arms race. George Kennan advocated for containment. Despite their differing beliefs it is likely that this tension between opposites helped the United States win the Cold War.

3 — What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be that I advocated for the right mix of capabilities based upon objective threat assessments and that these capabilities were overseen using the minimum effective dose of policies.

Phil Walter has served in the military, the intelligence community, and the inter-agency. The views expressed here are those of the author alone and do not contain information of an official nature. He tweets @philwalter1058 and blogs atwww.philwalter1058.com.

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