Soldiers don’t trust Generals, Army dealing with immoral leaders

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by Will Rodriguez 33 Comments

Two dueling and paradoxically supporting reports surfaced today.

The Daily Beast published a story by Rep Duncan Hunter reference the falling lack of trust soldiers have in their Generals.  The belief that senior military leaders have the best interests of their soldiers at heart dropped from 53% in 2009 to 27% last year.  He cited CPT Swenson’s ‘lost” Medal of Honor citation.  CPT Swenson was quite vocal about the lack of support he received, embarrassing senior leaders.  I‘ve addressed it earlier.    Hunter also mentioned a case where soldiers awards were lost likely due to a suspected conflict with a superior leader, a Special Forces Army Major that was investigated for over a year over alleged war crime allegations and the case of LT Lorance sentenced to 19 years in Leavenworth for ordering his troops to engage suspected Taliban.

Hunter has a great point but it’s not just the Army that has these issues.  The previous Marine Commandant exercised extreme command influence to skew the justice system and punish Marines.  Later actions were taken against the Marine defense lawyer and even the Marine Corps Times to punish them for resisting the party line.  Gruntsandco has extensively covered the issue.

Recently, an Air Force General attempted to intimidate officers by telling them they were committing treason if they spoke against the A10 to Congress.

Various flag rank officers have not spoken honestly on the eve or after military operations including Adm Mullen did not before Libya.

The Army does have a problem with Generals acting like politicians but they are far from the only ones.

The paradoxical story was published in Military Times and listed a litany of officers that have been court martialed, suffered non judicial punishment (Article 15), relieved and/or reprimanded.  The numbers include over 40 court martials of officers in the grade of lieutenant colonel or higher, almost 130 relieved battalion and brigade commanders and over 1400 instances of non-judicial punishment.

On the one hand, the record of punishment implies deep issues within the officer corps though the Army states cases are slightly down.  On the other hand, the action by the Army to address misbehavior in officer’s ranks contradicts the long held belief that officers are on the positive side of a double standard when addressing officer misbehavior.

I have commented vociferously on the growing political nature of our Generals.  I’ve voiced concern about the health of the officer corps.  I’ve also rejected unfounded or biased attacks against officers.  The Army and the military need to clean house but be careful of those holding brooms.  Some do not have the military’s or the nation’s best interests at heart.

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • Michael_mike

    Not sure if I should post it here or under an AF article, but I just learned that a missileer Captain at Minot AFB was also the head of a street gang. IMHO when it come to confidence a Russian mole might not do as much damage.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/crime/2015/02/02/minot-air-force-base-missileer-leon-brown-sentenced-25-years/22753751/

  • Michael_mike 
    Incredible.  Wonder where he came from?

  • clluelo

    Agreed Major, however how can we tell the “sweepers” don’t have the “weaken the military” mindset?

  • Luddite4Change

    I think the more important question is how many of the 129 relieved LTC/COL were for personnal vice professional reasons, and how do those numbers stack up against the other services?  My gut tells me that its close to 95% or more for personnal reasons with very little for professional failings.
    Given that I don’t see us hanging Iraq or Afghanistan in the W column, does this ratio tell us anything?

  • clluelo 
    Listen to them a little while.  They can’t help but tell you who they are.

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …As a Marine, I feel free to say that General Amos was the worst Commandant since at least the days before the Spanish American War.  Tossing an officer… a defense attorney… into a mental ward (instead of filing charges or calling a fitness hearing) would have made the old KGB proud.  
    .
    …Bad news is that this problem exists… good news is that so much of it coming out.  Bad news is that it seems once an officer hits flag rank his “punishments” are substantially less for essentially the same offense as committed by a Captain or 1st Sgt.  An officer is held to a higher standard… a flag officer to the highest… in theory.  Someone goes to prison for stealing a couple of night vision devices… while a general who embezzles many thousands of dollars for his mistress is given a slap on the wrist.  
    .
    …Are *all* cases handled in such a disgraceful manner?  No… but the ones that are leave a particularly foul odor.  
    .
    …Peacetime makes it easier for mediocre or bad officers to rise.  As to politics…  General Amos took a hard stand against permitting gays in the Marine Corps to be open about it… But when interviewed re becoming the next Commandant he threw his beliefs under the bus.  
    .
    …Officer bashing is a sign of ignorance.  It should always be remembered that often those who suffer most under bad officers are good ones… who leave the service or are not promoted… leaving the troops sometimes to serve under “yes men” or worse.  Peacetime can be hard for good officers… and politics… one more Left leaning administration next time around and the rot will really set in.  
    .
    -YP-

  • LawyerHandle

    To help provide some context for those numbers, how many officers are currently commissioned in the Army and how many officers are in the grade of Lt Col or higher?

  • Luddite4Change

    LawyerHandle There are about 75K officer, 9 thousand LTC and 4K colonels.

  • LawyerHandle

    Thank you. That helps a l aot.

  • Luddite4Change

    I think a more appropriate question is how many BN and BDE commanders there were during the time period.

  • Luddite4Change 
    Tedious but not too hard to figure out.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formations_of_the_United_States_Army_%28current%29

    1st Armored, Cav Div & 4th ID has five BDEs & 30 BN’s ea. (25 BDEs, 90 BN’s)

    1st & 2nd ID:  4 bde 20 BN’s (8 BDE’s, 40 BN’s)

    3rd, 10th ID, 82nd & 101st: 5 BDE’s, 26 BN’s (20 BDE’s, 104 BN’s)

    25th ID:  6 BDE, 33 BN’s

    15 independent BDE’s w/about 47 BN’s

    11 independent Regt’s w/about 55 BN’s

    For a total 85 BDE’s, 369 BN’s multiplied by 4 changes of command (typically every two years) for a grand total of 340 BDE CO’s & 1476 BN CO’s or a total of 1816 commanders.
     That’s 7% of commanders.

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod Luddite4Change
    Thanks.
    Looks like the Navy had 58 O5/06 RFC during the period 2003 to 2010, with 27 for professional reasons (running a ship aground sort of thing) and 31 for personnal reasons.

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod I’ll assume that the Army’s RFC tend to be 90% for personnal vice professional reasons.  So, does this mean that Army 05/06’s are 4 to 5 times for personnaly deficient than Navy officers (or 4 x 5 times more likely to be deficient)?

  • Luddite4Change majrod 
    I don’t know but you’d have to make some dangerous assumptions to say so. Both branches are catching all those personally defiicient and have the same standards for relief. Each report is equally reporting RFC’s and both branches have similar command structures.  (I don’t think so.  How many Navy BN’s are there?) 

    I think your “03 – ’10 Navy numbers are way off.   
    According to this report 21 commanders were fired in 2011 alone (not counting the last quarter). https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/d79951a2-72b6-4181-b735-5f98fc2ceecb/The-Navy-s-Moral-Compass–Commanding-Officers-and-
    Another 25 in 2012 http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20130203/News/302030345

    That’s 46 in two years.  Has the Navy quadrupled reliefs over the last two years?

  • Luddite4Change 
    FWIW: “In the past five years, 90 Navy skippers have been relieved of duty for
    indiscretions ranging from driving under the influence to having
    inappropriate relationships.”
    “But for Navy officers, losing your job doesn’t always end your career.”

     http://www.stripes.com/news/fired-navy-skippers-often-stay-in-service-1.317935
    Seems the Navy has a higher relief rate and are a third smaller.  Assuming everything’s equal, one could say there are more problems in that branch but I think there are a lot of factors that aren’t reflected to make any comparisons/conclusions.  In any case, the differences are very interesting.

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod Luddite4Change I used the same data set from 03 to 10.  From 03 through 09 the Navy relieved 46 05/06 total (an average of a little less than seven a year).  2010 to 2012 the average was over 21 a year.  Perhaps there is just renewed interest, or it could also be that in the age of instant comms and smart phone its just easier to get caught.

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod Luddite4Change My interest runs more along “the why”, as I’ve almost never seen an Army officer relieved for professional reasons other than perhaps the death of a soldier in training, and that was usually at the 03 level.

  • YankeePapa
  • Riceball

    YankeePapa Yeah, flag officers seem to get away with the most or at least the lightest punishment it seems. I just saw something about some Admirals that were caught in some sort of scandal and as punishment were allowed to retire, presumably with full benefits. If any officer without stars on their collar or shoulders got caught in a similar scandal would have been cashiered without the option of being able to quietly retire.

  • YankeePapa

    Riceball YankeePapa ,
    .
    …As I said, it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it reeks. The higher levels of all of the U.S. military branches have some individuals that are into corruption… Not the standard third world type… but selling out their values to politicos… and a disconnect from their obligations to their commands…
    .
    …The bad actors in the Air Force can’t seem to maintain control of that service’s nuclear weapons… or even get a grip on their own service academy…  Too much time on the golf course?  In a service with countless fine officers and men… somehow some clowns have been awarded stars.  
    .
    …The previous Marine Commandant used a KGB tactic to deal with an annoying defense attorney…  I could go on.  Bad flag officers into protecting each other and some of the politicos to whom they report not doing enough.  Superb officers… well… bad money drives out good… Honest and strong top generals needed to sort this all out.   George C. Marshall, if here today and made Chief of Staff would do a “Christ cleaning the moneylenders out of the temple” number.  

    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa Riceball 
    Yes but Marshall would never have been selected for CJCS today.  Not politically pliable enough…

  • YankeePapa

    majrod YankeePapa ,
    .
    …Hell is the impossibility of reason or justice.
    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    majrod YankeePapa Riceball  Many of the senior WWII leaders would have been cast aside by todays personnel system.  Bradley likely would have retired as a Major. Ike could have been sidelined for not having commanded troops in combat (something he personnally feared when the was ended several days before his departure to Europe).  Marshall never commanded a battalion.

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change majrod YankeePapa Riceball ,
    …And Abraham Lincoln could never get nominated these days… almost no formal education… homely, nasal voice… 
    .
    …However, re Marshall…  he commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment for three years in China (1924-27) though it was understrength… its first battalion having been disbanded.
    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    YankeePapaLuddite4ChangemajrodRiceball
     True, but in today’s organization you can’t get to C (Bde/Rgmt CMD) without first going through A (BN S3/XO)and B (Battalion Command)).  Also, Douglas MacArthur’s sidelining him to National Guard Support in Illinios would more likely had a more serious effect today than it did in his time.

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change YankeePapa majrod Riceball ,
    .
    …Definitely a different time.  When Nimitz was a very young officer he ran a small Navy vessel aground in the Philippines.  They held a big time hearing and what-not… but it did not hold him back.  
    .
    …Part of it was that vessels in those days had no fancy navigation/depth gear… charts for those islands either didn’t exist or were very poor quality old ones.  
    .
    …I may have told Majrod once how even in his last moments Nimitz was concerned about future conflicts involving the Navy… Rumor has it that his last words were, “Beat Army…”
    .
    -YP-

  • Riceball

    YankeePapa Riceball  Then there’s the nonsense going on with them trying to (once again) axe the A-10, this time they’re skewing the numbers to justify it. They’re claiming that the A-10 has the highest incidents of friendly fire and civilian casualties but they cooked the numbers and when you look at the actual numbers the A-10 has the second lowest rate of friendly fire incidents and civilian casualties, the only plane with better numbers is the AC-130. There are even rumors that the AF brass had been threatening officers with accusations of treason if they dare to speak out about the AF’s games and try to tell the truth about the A-10.

  • YankeePapa

    Riceball YankeePapa ,
    .
    …Not a rumor.  On January 29th Majrod posted item on Air Force General who told subordinates that opposing the death of A-10 amounted to treason… while saying that he would deny having said that.  
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …I hope that Livefyre can stop this spam.  It constitutes theft of service… advertising without payment.  It clutters up a very professional looking site.  The government of course can’t be bothered to put these people where they belong… simply dismiss it as too many to deal with. 

    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    Waterborne ,
    .
    …All the way back in the late 1970s I wrote about how the system sometimes fails the junior officer and can have repercussions years later.  Went something like this…

    .
    …You are a newly minted platoon leader and have have had it drilled into your head that your word… your honesty… everything.  At al times, at every rank and level of responsibility, all that you deal with… especially your superiors must know that you are 100% honest and that your word is as good as gold.  
    .
    …So your company is at the firing range.  For some reason part of the ammo at the range is deemed “not suitable” and new cases opened.  Your men finish shooting and you need to get yourself and your men to the busses.  
    .
    …But there is a problem and you have to sign a form detailing exactly how much ammunition is left over before your platoon leaves the range… which requires a count… which might take thirty minutes.  The Bn. C.O. has been on the Company C.O.s ass for some reason lately and the company commander is hot to have the unit back on post in time for battalion formation.  
    .
    …Odds are overwhelming that a rough estimate would be within a few rounds… but if you sign off on an exact number without a count you are “falsifying a document.”  You know that in “the real world” that the ammo will be back in storage… your paperwork will gather dust… and nobody will ever know or care.  
    .
    …On the other hand, if you piss off the Captain, come time for fitness reports you might take a hit.  He doesn’t need to trash you… an “average” rating in an army choked with “superior” ratings may mean that you’ll be lucky to make Major.  
    .
    …In theory you simply explain the problem and the Captain gives you the time and calls the Bn. Co. to explain the delay… or gets permission to have your platoon bussed out while you remain…  In the “real world” with this Captain… the sun will catch fire.   So you sign… and the problem is solved… and you are “rewarded” for your action.  
    .
    -YP-

  • .
    …From a review of a book on West Point.
    .
    “…According to Watson, West Point alumni were “an administrative cadre
    more akin to a national . . . managerial class than any other American
    social or occupational group prior to the Civil War” (p. 155). This was
    due largely to Jefferson’s appointment of the first superintendent of
    the academy, Colonel Jonathan Williams.
    .
    …Williams, the chief engineer and
    inspector of fortifications of the army, established the Corps of
    Engineers as an elite group within West Point and, therein, inaugurated a
    culture of technical skill and meritorious advancement in opposition to
    a European military culture that emphasized individual glory and
    flamboyant posturing (p. 158).
    .
    …Sylvanus Thayer, who studied at West Point under Williams’ tutelage
    and was the longest-serving superintendent of the academy (1817-1833),
    is considered the founder of the West Point of popular memory. Thayer,
    for example, coined the academy’s motto “Duty, Honor, Country.” During
    his tenure, these traditional military ideals took on a meaning in line
    with Jefferson and Williams’s republican vision for West Point.
    .
    …According to Watson, duty meant serving civilian authority under the
    dictates of the Constitution; even when civilian direction ran counter
    to military good sense. Honor, rather than representing the essential
    and easily affronted identity of officer-gentlemen, stood for performing
    one’s duties selflessly. One’s honor was established through integrity
    and dedication to the civic whole. Country, then, provided the “focal
    point” that “concentrated and legitimated graduates’ efforts to perform
    their duties…”
    .
    https://networks.h-net.org/node/21708/reviews/21881/stacy-mcdonald-thomas-jeffersons-military-academy-founding-west-point
    .
    -YP-