Defense Executive of the Year: James Cartwright
2007 GCN Awards | Gen. Cartwright spells out DOD transformation by starting with a focus on results
Marine Gen. James Cartwright
The new vice chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff has carved out 30 minutes
from his marathon schedule to answer
questions about his career, leadership
style and worldview. And at precisely
09:45, tall, trim, Marine Corps-neat in a
zippered jacket and shiny shoes, Marine
Gen. James Cartwright emerges from his
Pentagon office and extends a large hand
in a firm handshake.
For the complete list of the 2007 GCN Award winners, click here
Cartwright's position with the Joint
Chiefs is the latest step in a distinguished
military career. As commander of the
Strategic Command from 2004 until this
summer, he directed a ground-up business
transformation of the command, including
how it acquires information technology
and how it reorganized and focused the
command's numerous missions.
When Cartwright was sworn in Aug. 31
as vice chief, Marine Gen. Peter Pace,
who ended his term as chairman of the
Joint Chiefs last month and was
Cartwright's boss at Marine Forces Atlantic
in 2000, said that wherever
Cartwright happens to be, 'he's the
smartest guy in the room. He flat gets it.
And he gets it in a way that not only ties
things together, but [he] articulates it in
a way that guys like me can understand.'
That's true, said aide Marine Sgt. Adam
Stump. 'He uses a lot of metaphors that
really convey the idea of what he's saying
so grunts like me get it.'
Before joining Stratcom, Cartwright was
director of force structure, resources and
assessment for the Joint Staff, in an advisory
role. He supported the Joint Chiefs
chairman with force structure requirements;
studies, analyses and assessments;
and evaluation of military forces, plans,
programs and strategies.
His assignment in July 2004 as Stratcom
commander at Offutt Air Force Base,
Neb., was 'a hard left turn,' Cartwright
said. 'And there wasn't a lot of preparation
time.' Nominated for the job June 15
of that year, he whipped through confirmation
hearings and took command in
The Stratcom of 2004 was a sprawling
complex of commands and new missions.
The Strategic Air Command and Air
Space Command had been combined five
years earlier. In 2002, more new missions
came, including global strike, integrated
missile defense, information operations,
space, and integration of command, control
and communications. A year later,
the Defense Department directed Stratcom
to take the lead in combating
weapons of mass destruction.
His first challenge, Cartwright said, was
figuring out 'how do you get your hands
around all of this.' The second centered
on a workforce engrained in the strategic
environment of the Cold War. 'How do
you find the centers of excellence and
leverage their power?'
He assembled three groups: academics,
'a graybeard-type group' and people from
industry. Their task ' in 30 days ' was
to devise ways to make the command
more effective, efficient and global.
'Whatever they came up with had to be
joint, had to be able to move to all of government
and had to handle the integration
of allies ' coalition warfare,'
He took the most input from the business
sector, probably because, he said, 'they
were already global, and they had started
transitioning from a purely industrial construct
to an industrial-IT construct.'
'The way the command has been organized,
it will be able to handle situations we
haven't begun to comprehend, although
I'm sure he saw them and prepared us for
it,' said Army Maj. Gen. Howard
Bromberg, Stratcom's chief of staff.
By delegating authority while teaching
collaboration, Cartwright won his staff 's
loyalty and fused them into a team,
Bromberg said. 'It was through his brilliance
and caring that he taught us all.'
Cartwright's job today is advisory, but
one can lead without being in charge, the
new vice chief said. 'It's just a question of
convincing people that there's value in