BY PENTAGON STANDARDS, it was an impressive "E-ring" office: two full windows, a meeting area with overstuffed furniture, a conference table, multiple telephones, and a full colonel to "guard the door." The E-ring was the outer ring, where offices could have windows and actually have views of the outside. In April 1994, reporting in to my new position as the J-5, the Director for Strategic Plans and Policies on the Joint Staff, I realized that I had arrived at the highest levels of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The J-5, is the senior staff officer responsible to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for worldwide political military policies and strategy. I was "armed" with several briefing books each day. Over 200 staff professionals, mostly senior lieutenant colonels and colonels from all the branches of the Armed Forces, assisted me. Daily packages of messages and intelligence from around the world were delivered periodically. I often accompanied the Chairman to key White House meetings. My assistants and I routinely went across the Potomac to represent the military at lower level meetings in the State Department and White House.
The Joint Staff is one of those mysterious organizations that none