When you roll through the dim-lit, acid-drenched corridors of the Pentagon, the barren walls scream of a void. Empty picture frames hang like ghastly reminders of an America caught in a chaotic haze, reminiscent of the hedonistic days of the ’70s but without the redeeming music. The Navy, the Army, and the Marine Corps – all stand leaderless. And amidst this chaos, as the future chairman of the Joint Chiefs dangles in uncertainty, there’s an unmistakable stench in the air: opportunity.

Not for us, of course. But for nations that lay in the shadows, waiting. Countries like China and Russia, who thrive in chaos and feast on vulnerability. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s voice, a beacon of rationality in this bedlam, calls out the absurdity. When he labels the hold on military promotions and appointments as “unprecedented,” “unnecessary,” and “unsafe,” he’s not just venting bureaucratic frustrations. He’s sounding the alarm on a self-imposed disaster, the consequences of which we’re yet to fully grasp.

A sheep in the oval office
Things are definitely getting weird. I’m pretty sure this is the Oval Office. Original weird AI-generated art by SOFREP.

Hunter S. Thompson used to say, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Well, things are beyond weird. Senator Tuberville’s protests over the Pentagon’s reproductive health care policy have snowballed into a staggering halt in military appointments. Sure, the immediate absence of leaders might seem symbolic, a mere shifting of portraits and tweaking of ceremonial language. But this game of musical chairs, where no one ever sits down, has left our defenses exposed.

Now, instead of moving forward in unison, the Senate’s dance with nominations turns sluggish, bogged down by roll call votes and bureaucracy. And as we squabble internally, we’re handing our adversaries the playbook. A nation’s strength isn’t just in its arsenal but in its leadership. Right now, that leadership is MIA.

We used to have a saying when I was in the military, as it became apparent to a lot of us serving when we started to notice our elected political leaders were quite incompetent. We’d say…

“Lions led by lambs.”

In the turbulent labyrinth of American politics, it’s the very behavior of making decisions based on fleeting interests and personal vendettas, rather than long-term strategy and genuine national interests, that ensnared us in the quagmire of Afghanistan for two decades. The haunting echo of that venture resonates today, reminding us of a time when political bravado overshadowed ground realities and nuance. A series of misguided policies, influenced more by political posturing and less by a cohesive understanding of the Afghan dynamics, resulted in 20 long years of blood and treasure expended, only to leave us with a bitter taste of inconclusiveness and a region still in turmoil. The lesson? When political ambitions drive warfare, the end game becomes murky, and it’s the American warfighter that pays a hefty price.