The United States, an Empire in the Shadows: Part II

This is my thirty-ninth weekly Blog regarding the state of leadership in America. Part I laid out the scope and cost of this new age empire, the reasons it exists, and the need to reevaluate its existence given our mounting fiscal problems. Currently, our leaders are tied to a military strategy or concept of operation that emphasizes the need for troops on the ground and stationed on a network of foreign bases. The short-comings of this strategy are significant:
• We can become entangled in the politics and turmoil of the host nations which places our bases in jeopardy.
• Our expensive ($65 billion annually) and extensive land-based infrastructure limits our ability to maneuver or reposition ourselves to meet new or potential threats.
• Large segments of the host nations’ populations do not want us in their homelands. To them, America is viewed as an invader, not their protector.
• Once we have troops on the ground, our military leaders are very reluctant to pull them out, leaving us with no exit strategy.
• The host nations can put unwanted constraints on our operations or direct us to leave one or more bases.
With the enormous technological advances made in weapons systems, stealth ships and planes, communications, unmanned drone aircraft, satellites, long range guided missiles, and smart bombs, we have the means to completely rethink how to project American power without being tied to a costly, post-Cold War network of military bases and sites scattered around the world. With these and other advances, we don’t need to occupy bases and put troops on the ground in foreign countries to protect our interests and deter potential aggressors. We possess the technology to allow us to reduce our “foreign boot print.” As we debate this issue, we must be cognizant of a lesson of history: the costs in manpower and money to maintain an empire cannot be sustained indefinitely. The third and final part of this Blog will be published on 8/16/13.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in numerous leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written ”Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book allowing readers to broaden their understanding about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This guide book shows you the various aspects of leadership, including examining good leaders’ behavior patterns as well as learning how to achieve your objectives and deal with poor managers that can potentially cripple you and your organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit

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