Mullen’s Mulligan

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CNO MIke Mullen faking it as chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

It usually takes months for retired chairmen of the Joint Chiefs to have their formal portraits hung in the Pentagon’s E-ring hallway, alongside all those who have come before. But not so in the case of Admiral Mike Mullen, who left his post as the nation’s top military officer September 30.

Strolling along that wood-lined corridor recently, it was surprising to see Mullen’s portrait already hanging, next to that of Marine General Pete Pace, his immediate predecessor. But then I recalled his pledge last year to let his already-done portrait as chief of naval operations —  his gig before becoming chairman – serve as his official chairman’s portrait.

Get this: Mullen simply had a copy made of his CNO portrait, and had the original placed in the chairmen’s corridor the day he left the Pentagon. Some fancy photographic copy was made of the original, which now hangs with those of former CNOs.

This could be the start of something big: after all, the new chairman, Army General Martin Dempsey, served as Army chief of staff for five months before becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs. That’s probably too short a tenure to have an official portrait painted, but who knows – given the fiscal pressure facing the Pentagon it may have been done as a paint-by-number picture in 15 minutes.