In Defense of the Mentors

Former flags are a valuable commodity in the private sector where they help firms secure contracts and gain access to reluctant commands. Just like those that make their Faustian Pact with K Street, these stars flock to defense firms that can afford to pay them. Some take their star power elsewhere, like military associations.

In a series of reports, USA Today has brought a different type of star jockey to the forefront—the military mentor. The topic has been covered with an air of suspicion, portraying these men and women as overpaid shills.

USA Today may have gotten it wrong. Our sources give military mentors all thumbs up. The term “bargain” was used repeatedly.

The most telling testimonial came from a senior government intelligence official, a glass-half-empty kind of guy. Saying he gushed is mild.
“These guys are the voice of reason,” he said of the mentors work with simulated exercises and those in the field. “They are not restricted by politics. Since they’re not looking at getting promoted like the active duty and reserve generals, they are unencumbered and free to, well, mentor, commanders and their staffs.”

There are advantages to the mentor. “He owns his own life. He’s fresh. He gets sleep. He is not dragging like most of the GO’s,” he said “The mentors are smart. They are great thinkers, and they get it. They don’t have to worry about Congress. They tell it like it is, and their views and knowledge are relevant.” he explained.

Mentors go to combat zones. One former provincial reconstruction team commander knew several in 2004 Afghanistan. “These guys came into help CJTF-76 in Kabul and other general officer leadership,” he said. “Mentors like Marine Lt. Gen. Buck Bedard, Army Gen. Gary Luck and others did not hesitate to place themselves in harm’s way,” he recalled. “They brought a clean perspective.” When asked about time out of uniform being a concern, he responded, “War is war, and basic fundamentals still apply. These guys were out in the field looking at what was going on. They didn’t t have to do that, but they did. They’re a bargain, and certainly better than another RAND report.”

And those shilling concerns? “Not once have I observed a mentor pushing a product or a company. The mentors, regardless of service, that I’ve seen have been fantastic,” said our intel official.

Are these the only people in favor of mentors?

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