Pentagon employee, 92, is back after shutdown, but job is on shaky ground
Andrew Marshall is is the Pentagon’s director of the Office of Net Assessment.
October 21st, 2013
08:36 AM ET

Pentagon employee, 92, is back after shutdown, but job is on shaky ground

By Barbara Starr

When the government shutdown ended and thousands of civilians came back to work at the Pentagon, one employee’s return wasn’t surprising at all - he’s been coming to work for 40 years.

Andrew Marshall is 92 – yes, 92 years old, born in 1921. He is the Pentagon’s director of a group called the Office of Net Assessment, and the Pentagon is pretty sure he is the oldest civilian or military official at the Defense Department. Marshall’s influence is legendary, perhaps because he almost never speaks publicly, a rarity in Washington, let alone in Pentagon circles.

During the 16-day furlough, his entire office was shut down. But coming back may be bittersweet, because the Pentagon is thinking about shutting the office down in the coming months as part of a cost-saving measure, several Pentagon officials said. The office may be disbanded or folded into another part of the Pentagon bureaucracy.

When CNN asked for an official answer about the status of Marshall’s office, the answer was this: “The Department of Defense is currently assessing our missions, structure and programs in light of an evolving set of strategic challenges, as well as a constrained fiscal environment. At this time, it would be premature to comment on pre-decisional issues."

Marshall founded the office 40 years ago this month after coming over from the White House, where he was working for Henry Kissinger on the staff of the National Security Council. So what is “net assessment”? The Pentagon defines it as “the comparative analysis of military, technological, political, economic, and other factors governing the relative military capability of nations. Its purpose is to identify problems and opportunities that deserve the attention of senior defense officials.”

Through the Cold War with Russia, detente, the Balkans, Gulf War one, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of Chinese military technology, the threats posed by Iran, 9/11 and al Qaeda, Marshall’s been doing it, day in and day out, for 40 years.

CNN asked for an interview with Marshall about his extraordinary career. The request was declined, at least for now.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Phelix Unger

    Great 92 years old, now go home and let someone younger earn that paycheque you greedy sob.

    October 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  2. Mark

    The guy looks 60! Remarkable.

    That said, he's put in 40 years (which means he started this career at 52), and it's not like they're discriminating. They shut it down... they shut it down. It would be nice if there was a similar position he could be retasked to. It would be a shame to waste his experience.

    October 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  3. USAPeasant

    Glad to see they let this man back and put the shutdown off until January. Be kind of foolish to abolish Marshall's office and terminate his employment given his longevity, endurance, and knowledge, especially on the subject of wars and the chaos of the world for 40 years running.

    If the Pentagon does decide to drop him CNN shouldn't just seek an interview; they should try to hire him as a columnist. Be very interesting to see his opinion on foreign affairs/history. Doesn't have to be just the modern affairs either. I bet it be rather intriguing to see his views on the later communist era to the 90s flashpoints in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

    October 22, 2013 at 3:05 am | Reply
  4. Portland tony

    Mr. Andrew Marshall, much to my amazement, has a extraordinary background in his field and is held in high esteem by our nation's top long term strategic planning leaders as well as most of our distinguished foreign adversaries!

    October 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • NNN

      Not really:

      "December 13, 2002: Report for Pentagon Suggests All Iraq Costs Can Be Paid for by Iraq Oil,Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz receives a draft report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment which, according to a source interviewed by Newsday, recommends that “the cost of the occupation, the cost for the military administration and providing for a provisional administration, all of that would come out of Iraqi oil.” The report was commissioned by Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s influential director of Net Assessment. [NEWSDAY, 1/10/2003] "

      and

      "Early January 2002: Neoconservatives Purge Defense Department of Opponents to Iraq WarEdit event
      Harold Rhode.
      Harold Rhode. [Source: Publicity photo]
      Harold Rhode, a specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi, moves into the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, “an in-house Pentagon think tank” run by Andrew Marshall. Rhode, along with Douglas Feith, whose appointment to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is not approved until July, imposes a new anti-Iraq and anti-Arab orientation on the department. The two men purge the department of career Defense Department officials whose worldviews are not considered sufficiently compatible with the neoconservative perspective. An intelligence analyst will tell reporter Robert Dreyfuss that Rhode appeared to be “pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us with.” The source adds: “They wanted nothing to do with the professional staff. And they wanted us the f_ck out of there.” [MOTHER JONES, 1/2004]"

      October 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
      • StanCalif

        Sure! "Could have . . . should have" doesn't mean it did!
        Dick Cheney was telling us this same lie! Iraqi oil would pay for everything, the cost is "revenue neutral" (his words).
        Ha. ha, ha! Just as bad as "Mission Accomplished!"
        We effectively "liberated" Iraq for the Chinese!

        October 23, 2013 at 10:09 am |
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    October 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      No bong hits before posting, dude.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  6. NNN

    He's not a "Pentagon employee," he's a Presidential appointee, and has been one since 1973 under Nixon. If you don't know the difference between an appointee and an employee, you have no business being published.

    October 21, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
    • prn1234

      Please state your sources confirming that this man is indeed a presidential appointee. How do you know that for sure? And even if it were true, your harshness towards the author of this article is a little overboard. Actually rather pompus if you ask me.

      October 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Reply
      • asfa

        NNN is just jealous he's too deficient in the head to get a job with a news agency.

        October 23, 2013 at 2:28 am |
  7. Connika Gilyard Walker

    He look absolutely great to be 92!!1

    October 21, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • NNN

      Take a look at the map behind him, it is showing the USSR, so there is a chance the picture is somewhat dated.

      October 21, 2013 at 11:05 am | Reply
      • oldtimersRock!

        or Perhaps that's why they're phasing him out.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
      • right

        NNN you think youre smart but youre not. Whos to say that the map is up there coz it looks good and not for work purposes.

        October 23, 2013 at 2:30 am |

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