The erosion of standards and discipline, 5 flag officers facing court-martial or are in hot water
When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pointedly warned young troops last spring to mind their ways, he may have been lecturing the wrong audience.
The culture of military misconduct starts at the top.
At least five current and former U.S. generals at the rank of one-star or higher have been reprimanded or investigated for possible misconduct in the past two weeks — a startling run of embarrassment for a military whose stock among Americans rose so high during a decade of war that its leaders seemed almost untouchable.
From adultery and malfeasance to potentially inappropriate emails, the four-star foibles have rocked the military establishment and shocked the Obama administration even as it wrestles with a host of international challenges and a postelection redo of its national security team.
The generals on the hot seat in recent weeks include several top U.S. military commanders.
• CIA Director David Petraeus, the former four-star general and top commander in Afghanistan, resigned as spy chief after the FBI uncovered evidence that he was having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus has acknowledged the affair.
• Ward, former head of U.S. Africa Command, was demoted and ordered to repay more than $82,000 for inappropriate and lavish spending on travel. A Ward spokesman said the general was not motivated by personal gain.
• Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is facing multiple sexual misconduct charges, including forcible sodomy, involving five women, including female officers who served with him. The initial hearing is over, but there has not yet been a decision on whether to proceed to a court-martial.
• Gen. John Allen, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is under investigation for potentially inappropriate communications with Florida socialite Jill Kelley, whose name surfaced during the Petraeus investigation. Allen says he has done nothing wrong.
• Adm. James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, was cautioned by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to exercise better oversight of his staff after an investigation into travel and expense questions, including a trip to a wine dinner in France. Stavridis was cleared of any misconduct.
One hopes that scandals such as these will shed light on the fact that after 11 years of war the military needs to reset and reform, much like after Vietnam. The culture and nature of this country’s military once more needs to reflect the traditions and values we were all taught in basic or boot camp. The service does not need to purchase weapon systems it has no need or use for. It needs leaders that will challenge it to return to a system of accountablity and discipline. The American people deserve a military that is not broken and listless.