picturescolourlibrary/Pictures Colour Library/Newscom

As most commentators are focusing on the impending massive defense cuts that will devastate the military readiness of America, is it possible that this is only a part of the problem? The Department of Defense (DOD) is facing other symptoms of leadership failure.

The recent firing of one of America’s most competent and professional military leaders, U.S. Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, is a travesty. Mattis, the commander of U.S. Central Command, had no personal scandals and had not failed at any of his duties, but he was directed to depart his critical post prematurely.

The reason? One can only speculate, but Mattis certainly does not nod “yes” every time the President makes a military decision.

Mattis did not run to the papers or create a media circus when he disagreed with the President; he merely gave his best advice and stuck to his guns on matters including the drawdown rate for Afghanistan, how the U.S. should address Iran, and the U.S. response to the Arab Spring. Now this warrior’s warrior, America’s true Sam Damon, is being pushed aside with no explanation.

The next bomb about to hit has been much more publicized: the pending appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. This manifestly unqualified man will potentially be the worst Secretary of Defense since Les Aspin gutted the military in the early 1990s. Hagel comes to the job with no discernible qualifications and with an apparent brief from the President to gut the DOD and oversee America’s unilateral nuclear disarmament.

These two harbingers of change are not good omens for the readiness of America’s defenders. They will intellectually emasculate the DOD and thus allow America to be emasculated as the world’s superpower.