Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dime Store Cowboys

The Medals They Carried
It is a sad fact that while over a decade of war has hardened our military rank and file, our admirals and generals remain political wine stewards in ridiculously over-adorned uniforms, resembling more their third-world counterparts than a General Eisenhower or a William Tecumseh Sherman.

Ralph Peters, Lt Col, USA (Ret) points to a creeping sickness in our senior officer corps:
Misbehavior, double standards and outright criminal acts have become epidemic among our senior officers. There have been dozens of investigations or prosecutions. Our nation’s military leadership is sick.(General Failure)  
After delving into L’affaire Petraeus as well as the electronic indiscretions of General Allen and the whole Real Housewives of CENTCOM saga, he gets to the heart of the matter…
And these cases are peccadillos compared to the charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne: the forcible sodomy of female subordinates and a host of other nasty sex violations.
On Tuesday, we learned that four-star Gen. William “Kip” Ward, former head of Africa Command, will lose a star and pay a fine of $82,000 for cheating on government travel. Had Sgt. Peters done that, I would have gotten a dishonorable discharge and, probably, jail time. (General Failure)
He also lashes out at the hypocrisy and double standards of Petraeus and his fellow military strongmen…
The general held himself up as a paragon of self-discipline and model family man. In Iraq and then Afghanistan, he rigorously enforced “General Order No. 1,” which prohibits our troops from fraternization, all sex, alcohol consumption, the possession of pornography and, generally, from any activity that might make the boredom and terror of this kind of war more bearable. When our troops screwed up, they got hammered.
Generals can take a weekend in Paris and get drunk (as Gen. Stanley McChrystal did), but the grunt who goofs in a firefight faces a court-martial. (General Failure)
He nails is, and this is why I think it all ultimately weakens us:

The military is already an insular and unique group with its own culture and mores. Active duty personnel do enjoy civilian friendships, but for the most part, military hangs with military. We’re a family. I hope that scandals like this involving social climbing civilians will not serve to increase suspicions of civilian entanglements and close the ranks even more.

One of the prominent features of every State Department social function I attended in Latin America was ‘The Circle of Generals.’ The host nation’s generals would show up, but they kept to themselves, literally forming a tight circle, and avoiding all but the socially-mandatory interactions. They had learned to not mix their business with anything else at all, further isolating them and their forces from the people they were supposed to be serving.

Also, I agree with Peggy Noonan.  The awe-demanding Cult of Military, if continued at a blaring volume, sopping up retail freebies and basking in the glory paid in blood by an exclusively small subset of brothers and sisters, risks poisoning public good-will towards all of us who have ever served.  This would redound to the detriment of the minority that really has fought and sacrificed, and who need our help because they didn't retire with a six-figure pension, lucrative book deals, a college degree, and a military analyst position on cable TV.

33 comments:

Always On Watch said...

The double standard is everywhere -- not only in the military.

If you are one of "the elite," you can do as you please. You've "earned" the right not to be accountable.

conservativesonfire said...

Very well said, Kurt. The author of "General Failure" said that something happens when that Colonel puts on that first star and becomes a generalist instead of the specialist he has always been. I suspect many of these Colonals start their policticing amd but kissing as Colonels because than want that star somuch. Once a General the patern continues. I am wondering if instead of Generals making recomendations as to whom the President shoud appoint to be a General, if it would better if a committee of retired Colonals, who were still the real deal and still believed in their oath, were to make recomendations to the President which active Colonels shoud get promoted?

Bunkerville said...

Symptomatic of every great nation that falls. I think I read this book before, and the ending is not so swell.

KP said...

Powerful article!

There is so much at stake when it comes to the behavior of the men and women in positions of power like Pertaeus and Allen. My brother was a flag officer in the NAVY and attended Annapolis. Nothing was more important to him than walking the walk and having the respect of his superiors and that of the men and women he commanded.

When he retired after 33 years I recall him commenting that the military was becoming top heavy. He didn't say it but I read between the lines that too many Big Dogs is not only inefficient and expensive but may lead to a relaxation of leadership.

In Patraeus' case, his affair might be particularly damaging. Not only did he set a horrible precedent, but there a risk that he took his eye off the ball in Benghazi. And once exposed many months ago, that he may have acted like water and taken the path of least resistence when decisions were made after the attack in an attempt to save a career, his marriage and reputation.

What was the path off least resistence? Perhaps it was the way he let the narrative run on and on for six weeks about a video being the cause of the attacks on our consulate. Or it colored his first testimony in front of Congress, and the last one in front of the commission.

Lets face it, by the time he was talking last week this was a man who had been under intense scrutiny for months. How much should be trust a man who was banging his biographer; a physical specimen twenty years his junior. How credible is the man who carried on the affair while most most accounts everyone around them knew it was playing out in real time. How believable is a man who has been married for 37 years and whose wife if furious at him and who is probably sleeping on the couch, at the office or in a motel room?

The answer is that he may not be beleivable; and that he is follwing the path of least resistence. At this time, I don't find his testimony particularly helpful. he hardly nows which way is up.

OD357 said...

It starts way before they are Generals. I work on a pilot training base. By the time the government(in this case the USAF) has invested a month in training, they are pretty much bulletproof. DUI? Fuggedaboutit. Short of murder, they will send an officer packing to another part of the country and stonewall the civilian legal system.

Officer elitist class starts from early on. Their entitlement attitude is groomed from the beginning. By the time they make Colonel or General their collective narcissism is deeply established.

KP said...

Let's be careful not to color all of military leadership with a broad brush. In many cases they are the best and they do live up to all the hype. Like any field, medicine, law, engineers, teachers, etc, there will be bad apples. But I would stack the quality of men and women who graduate from the miliatry academies and go on to decades long careers up against any other as their equal or superior in character and intellect. These are very good people who are typically highly educated, bright, good leaders and straight shooters.

When they leave the miliatry they are highly sought after in the civilian work place and often start well placed in the hierarchy of responsibility as they get stuff done. Very very disciplined workers and can execute like no others.

Alligator said...

We have been there and done this before. Political generals - a widespread phenomenon in the Union at the outset of the Civil War appears to be in the process of re-establishing itself. If the generals weren't eying political office after they got out, they were toadying up to the politicians to keep their position or gain favors. From my perceptive, the senior officer staff are more like MANAGERS rather than LEADERS. Unfortunately it took massive bloodshed and defeats that either forced the Civil War political generals out, or forced them to man up and learn to lead properly.

beamish said...

The only thing missing from this left-wing crybaby post is MoveOn.org's old "General Betray-Us" advertisement.

FreeThinke said...

"A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO LOSE."

Turning to our DEFENSE into a GAME -- one long competitive campaign in pursuit of nothing greater than self-aggrandizement and an elevated seat at the table of a corrupt Establishment is IGNOBLE -- to say the very least.

"We the People" are being used as mere pawns by these toadying ignoramuses whose sole purpose in life is to get in line for the inestimable honor and privilege privilege of performing anal osculation on The Oligarchs in whom these puffed up, overdressed Chocolate Soldiers live and move and have their being.

O how I wish Gllbert and Sullivan were still around to employ their uniquely elegant brand of scathing satire to skewer these strutting mountebanks while giving audiences hope that Wisdom and Truth and Good Humor may still be alive and well after all!

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

On the other hand, AOW -- and others --, if there are no special privileges to be gained by earnest efforts to reach the to, why would anyone ever bother to make the treacherous climb?

Mass conformity to uniform ideals and enforced codes of conduct is the ultimate aim of ------ MARXISM!!!!!!

Be careful what you long for.

In the REAL world some people really are -- and always have been -- "more equal than others."

The popular conception of "equality" is silly, simplistic, dreadfully misleading and frankly childish in my never humble estimation.

The vast vast vast majority are pathetically eager to be LED -- they are terrified of freedom and, because they largely remain children emotionally and intellectually all their lives, they are utterly incapable of self-governance.

In truth we, as a species, bear a disquieting resemblance to ants, bees, termites and other creatures governed by the HIVE instinct.

If left to our own devices, we almost invariably choose a "Lady Ga Ga" to lead us instead of a Ron Paul.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

@AOW __ The double standard is everywhere -- not only in the military.
----
Can I get an AMEN from the congregation?

Ducky's here said...

If left to our own devices, we almost invariably choose a "Lady Ga Ga" to lead us instead of a Ron Paul.

----
I have no reason to believe Ga-ga is less qualified than Ron Paul.

He's a better self promoter though.

Look, America gave up the desire for competent political leadership some time ago.
Now it's just old bitter assholes like John McCain screaming "Get of my lawn you damn kids".

Ducky's here said...

@KP --- These are very good people who are typically highly educated, bright, good leaders and straight shooters.

------
I would largely accept that, KP.

However, what do we do about the fact that much of the military is being privatized, turned over to mercenaries?
The missions are directed by careerists of far less integrity in the CIA and other practitioners of the great game.

Yes, there are admirable people in the military but let's face it, the military is largely a freaking profit center. Just an arm of Kapital.

A Worker Reads History

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Greek triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.

Bertolt Brecht

Ducky's here said...

It's not from Mother Courage but I think we need more Brecht than Gilbert and Sullivan.

KP said...

@Ducky << I have no reason to believe Ga-ga is less qualified than Ron Paul. >>

Very funny :-)

I needed a giggle this morning.

Hugh Farnham said...

I've seen this transition over the past 25 years I've been affiliated with the military. From the procurement revolving door to the institutionalized insanity in Space Command, I've seen a constant downward slide and slouch.

The last active duty wing commander I briefed was a complete horse's banana. He treated NCOs like children in public. His treatment of these NCOs prompted me to motion them aside afterwords and apologize for the Colonel's behavior.

I couldn't agree more about the ribbons. If you are on base, take a look at the portraits of the base commander, his vice, and command chief. They should get Warfit points for just putting on that service jacket, heavy with "medals".

Service before self? Integrity? Excellence? Please.

One of the reasons I chose to finish my time with the reserve component is the concept of humility. The airmen there, by and large, are successful in the civilian world and have little ass-pirations on climbing the ladder.

They come in every month to simply serve. That's what it is all about and many at the top levels of active duty have lost sight of that.

KP said...

@Ducky << what do we do about the fact that much of the military is being privatized, turned over to mercenaries? The missions are directed by careerists of far less integrity in the CIA and other practitioners of the great game. >>

To the extent this is happening you make a valid point. These guys and gals are human and make the same mistakes civilians do.

But I would counter that the percentage of fuck-ups is lower in the upper eschelon of the military. I have been around them for over 30 years.

The good ones recognize the problem(s) and they do a relatively good job of policing themselves.

Remember the tailhook scandals in 1991? That resulted in 14 admirals b eing cashiered and 300 naval aviators driven out of the Navy or their careers terminated. How many corporations would do that? Wall Street? No.

In addition, The War College in Newport RI started a Command Leadership School as a direct result of the tailhook association problems. I know because my brother was assigned to the initial stand-up of the program. The military professionals rival any other group dependant on leadership skills. As we see, it is not perfect.

KP said...

Interesting review of Space Command, Hugh. I sent SF a link to refresh your memory in case of any possible crossing of paths.

Z said...

Steve, the country's getting hurt by the lies; if we had a media not in bed with Obama, he wouldn't be president.

To the others, yes, please let's not paint all military brass with two broad a brush; plenty are decent men.

Ducky, I'm thinking anybody with the name Lady Gaga does a lot better promotion of herself than Rand Paul.
and yes, I'm FAR more worried that the CIA's bigwigs are not stellar than I am that the military's can go bad. But, 25 years ago, I was dismayed to hear a retired CIA careerist say "we get plenty of applciations but NONE from the Ivy Leagues anymore...NOBODY passes the whole lie detector test, they've all done drugs and stolen...we get "NOBODY" of great character"

I guess we're reaping that mess now. I'd hoped he was wrong.

The left has destroyed trust in our patriots through destroying trust in our country (no Ivy League school applicants when he said they were almost ALL ivy League graduates for most of the years before?)...who'd go in NOW, fight for a country one doesn't respect?

Chicken or the egg?

Silverfiddle said...

To my friends left and right, I apologize.

Please step over the troll turds, and I will clean them up when I can get to them.

It's a beautiful day here in Southern Colorado, and I'm heading out to enjoy it!

I wish you all a blessed day as well!

viburnum said...

My apologies folks. I was AFK attending to one of the baser calls of nature and unfortunately I can only expel one load of shit at a time.

Thersites said...

The American Cincinnatus military service model exemplified by George Washington is dead.

Thersites said...

Coriolanus...

Titan Andronicus...

We barely knew ye.

Silverfiddle said...

@ KP: "Let's be careful not to color all of military leadership with a broad brush..."

Most definitely. I did not mean to impugn the character of everyone, but rather to point out a creeping sickness.

For a myriad of reasons too involved to get into here, the military lost all credibility after Vietnam.

Watch "Tank" or "Heartbreak Ridge" to see how the military was viewed back in the 80's.

We didn't gain in the eyes of the civilians until Desert Storm, and only after 9/11 did Vietnam veterans get the respect they earned.

It can happen again.

Thersites said...

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus McClellan is the new "ideal".

Thanks Ike.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Z: "...the country's getting hurt by the lies; if we had a media not in bed with Obama, he wouldn't be president.

To the others, yes, please let's not paint all military brass with two broad a brush; plenty are decent men."

Let's please not paint all miltary brass with too broad a brush, but it's okay in Z's world to make a sweeping claim, backed up with nothing about "the media" being "in bed" with Obama, therefore, that is the only reason he was re-elected.

Bang. Bang. Dop. Dop.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"Let's please not paint all miltary brass with too broad a brush, but it's okay in Z's world to make a sweeping claim, backed up with nothing about "the media" being "in bed" with Obama, therefore, that is the only reason he was re-elected."

Think of it as Paint Farm.....some brushes are more equal than others. Truths be damned.

The military in many ways, mirrors the rest of society. Entitlement is expected when one reaches a certain rank. Though the Officer Corps has always enjoyed a higher standard of living, this was usually accompanied by a certain measure of enduring a level of risk and hardships as the common soldier.

This gap has widened in recent years to a point where a Flag Officer may often have no understanding whatsoever to what the Enlisted and NCO Corps endure on a daily basis. This has been exacerbated in the current theaters, where senior Commanders enjoy a virtual fiefdom in theater, with the ability to travel outside of theater for various reasons and enjoy leisure and family.

Ducky's here said...

@Silverfiddle -- For a myriad of reasons too involved to get into here, the military lost all credibility after Vietnam.

----------
If you mean by "the military" the likes of Westmoreland then, yes.
The command may have lost as much credibility as bullet heads like McNamara.

Willie and Joe were held in regard.

The missions have continued to be corrupt.

Silverfiddle said...

Well Ducky, in their defense, the military goes where the government sends them and does what the civilian masters tell them to do.

Speaking of McNamera, Rummy went off the rails when he started channeling his Vietnam-era counterpart.

I am not making a left turn here, but rather exercising an Orwell-like facing of facts.

Political hero worship and team politics has us halfway flushed down the toilet.

I am guilty, or as the old hymn goes, "I was blind, but now I see."

FreeThinke said...

Political correctness and all it implies are what has ruined the military in my opinion.

To borrow a phrase once again from GBS:

Forcibly imposed foreign standards of attitude and unnatural behavior have had a weakening effect on military leadership.

The requirement that top brass knuckle under to the generally absurd demands of bullying bureaucrats, lisping, limp-wristed Professors, Communist-oriented "Psychologists," and bull dyke Feminazis has turned fundamentally good men into a bunch of feminized, impotent, toadying ignoramuses.

It seems perfectly natural to me that these men would seek to reclaim their manhood in venues traditionally deemed "inappropriate," since they are no longer permitted to function as MEN in their chosen careers.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

No Freethinker, the Petraeus affair is just more proof of what happens when you allow straights in the service.

KP said...

Comments by the Joint Staff at DoDLive:

http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2012/11/general-dempsey-on-recent-allegations/

And then comments by readers.

Finntann said...

Come on... the headlines are great:

NY POST: Cloak and Shag Her

NY Daily News: In the line of booty.

NY Daily News: War and Piece

NY Post: The Central Infidelity Agency

Come on... these are priceless.