From The American Conservative:
The Pentagon building just over the river from Washington D.C. is really an architectural marvel, and if there was any federal office space that reflected the true nature of its purpose, this 6.6 million square foot labyrinth, made up of concentric rings spanning over 7 miles, housing 3.6 million square feet of offices with nearly 30,000 employees coming in and out everyday like bees to the hive, this is it. Like the institution it represents, it is a planet onto itself – with six zip codes, Metro station, a shopping mall, food courts and gyms. It is connected underground to adjacent Pentagon City, which offers access to off-site housing and not surprisingly, satellite HQs of the world’s top defense contractors. Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon all have digs here, along with a host of other mid-range beltway bandits.
Looking across the Potomac you can make out the U.S. Capitol and from a certain vantage, the White House, rounding out the primary points of Military Industrial Complex in the Imperial City. On the western side of the Pentagon is the sprawling Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of so many who served this national security state: at least 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their family members are buried here today.
But back to the Pentagon. For the literal nucleus of the most powerful military in the world, it is, according to its own denizens, like walking into a time warp. Think Kirk Douglas in black-n-white Seven Days in May, as he crisply enters the wing for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So says retired Marine John Kroger, who was chief learning officer of the Navy and Marine Corps in the building from 2019 to 2020, in a recent Wired article:
There are no laptops at meetings in the Pentagon. There are no whiteboards, either. No connectivity, and almost no diversity. I love the Navy and Marine Corps, but as a civilian executive, this 1950s environment is what exasperated me most about working there. These problems damage the speed and quality of our military planning and decisionmaking. If we don’t correct them soon, we will jeopardize our national security.
One of the biggest complaints is there is very little cell phone service in the building, which, aside from the super long underground stretch to Pentagon City, is pretty isolated. There is a strict ban on mobile devices in classified areas, but apparently most can’t get a signal where the phones are allowed. He goes on:
During the pandemic, I’ve had much greater connectivity working at home on my civilian network than I did when in the building that controls the most powerful and technologically advanced armed force in the world.
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