The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, and the former uniformed leader of the Air Force were viewed as "great leaders but weak on strategic thinking," according to a Pentagon official detailed to the National Security Council.
Stolen emails released by WikiLeaks on Sunday revealed a March 30, 2015, email from Christopher Kirchhoff to top Clinton campaign aide John Podesta that offered stark opinions about the nation's top military leaders. At the time President Barack Obama was considering which officer to nominate as Joint Chiefs chairman.
And then this.
"Winnefeld is a lucid thinker in crisis whose grasp of the substance of military options would best serve you and the president in a true emergency," Kirchhoff wrote Defense Secretary Ash Carter. "He is more ready than anyone else for the 3am phone call."Wow.
Kirchhoff also writes from his government account that national security adviser Susan Rice was "not opposed to but also not particularly excited by" Kirchhoff's preferred candidate, Winnefeld.
He tells Podesta he's attaching a "final memo" advocating for Winnefeld "in case you want to back channel it to Denis." That's apparently a reference to Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough.
Ultimately, Obama himself cited the influence of his relationship with Dunford as one reason he picked him.
Did Wikileaks just kick the final piece of dirt on Dunford's legacy? This is damning. Of course it can be explained away as only one person's opinion but the way that this is being discussed should raise eyebrows in the General Officer Corps...or maybe not. They've been so politicized that they're probably aware that the best isn't chosen, just the most popular...or most yielding to the thinking of decision makers.