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On Our Dollar-oriented DOD: A Letter from Col Michael D. Wyly, USMC (Ret)

I fully agree with the concerns of the authors of the three recent articles on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our Defense Department as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Marine Corps, design their policies to obtain dollar amounts, not to research and design weaponry and other combat materiel needs. I first became frustrated with this tendency when I was a 29-year-old rifle company commander in Vietnam in 1969. Yet, the situation has only worsened since that time - now to the point that materiel needs in combat are neglected, not because of any oversight; but because real needs are not understood, nor is there a sincere effort to understand them.

The DOD's focus is money, not combat.

I propose that a board be established to investigate this problem. The board must include (among others) persons civilian and military who have made a serious and in-depth study of warfare and what it can and cannot bring about in terms of security and freedom. I would anticipate that some members of the board would be scholars and not service members (though, of course, military personnel must be appointed to the board as well). What we sorely need are a few longtime and lifetime professors and authors who have researched the history and functions of militaries and governments throughout history.

Appoint a board of recognized civilian and military experts to study warfare and government

Of equal importance, the board must include persons knowledgeable of recent practices of armed forces and recent practices of government, to include both legislative and executive input. The business side of military procurement must also be represented on the board.

There is much that I will add to this recommendation that I have already thought through. At the moment, however, I want to keep it brief, understandable, and open to other ideas.


Michael D. Wyly

Colonel, U.S.Marine Corps (retired)

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Thank you for your response, Sam! We'll make sure the colonel sees it.


Sam Ryder
Sam Ryder
Jan 12, 2022

Colonel Wyly,

It’s truly great to read something from you. I credit some of your writing with bringing me over to the dark side while I was digging into the post-Vietnam reform effort as background research prior to teaching at TBS. “Attack or Defend?” changed the way I approached much of my thinking about tactics, battlefield transitions, etc. as well. Thanks for that.

I appreciate the sentiment in this post and would love to hear more. However, I’m skeptical about this board you propose. I believe in order for this reform effort to prove meaningful, it needs authority. It also needs a connection to formal mechanisms for governing the allocation of resources. A bunch of smart people with the appropr…

Replying to


Here's what the colonel had to say in response to your post.

------ Sam, I completely understand and respect your comment. That said, we have to start somewhere. Part of our effort will be finding a person or persons of authority of whom you speak. Invite, persuade, and motivate him or her. We have to. We have a country to save!

Thanks for your interest, your comment, and your wisdom!

Kindest regards,

Mike Wyly

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