Monday, November 11, 2013

Burning Flags...

Top of the day everyone.

Under no circumstances do I support the idea of burning flags.  While from a legal point of view, I believe that we must allow for it, no one should keep company with those who would do such a deed.  That is not the subject of this entry though.

'Burning' is in the title functioning as an adjective.  'Flags' is a reference not to national ensigns, but rather to flag officers, officers who have achieved the rank of rear admiral or its equivalent.

I do not know how many of you have been following the recent scandal in the US Navy.  Apparently, a US Navy commander (one rank senior to me) has been selling information on ships' movements to a contractor in the Far East.  The contractor was then in a privileged position to offer his contracting services to those ships when they pulled in at various ports.  Payment to the officer in question was cash, prostitutes, and drugs.

This scandal has now risen beyond the commander.  Two admirals have just had their security clearances revoked.  They are now on leaves of absence.

Over the last several years, several officers at this level have lost their jobs for various reasons.

The commanding general at Fort Jackson, SC was relieved of duty and is facing court-martial for sexual assault.

General Petraeus (four stars) resigned as Director-CIA due to an extra-marital affair.

General McChrystal (four stars) was relieved of duty after publicly embarrassing the White House and allowing his staff to do the same.

The deputy in charge of our nuclear forces (three stars) was relieved of duty last month amid a gambling probe.

The commander of a carrier strike group was relieved in March for an appalling public demeanor and for disparaging minority officers.

A Canadian general was relieved three years ago for having dalliances with troops while in a combat zone. 

Leadership is more than a rank.  It is more than the ability to give an order.  It is an attitude and a discipline.  While I fully expect and understand that no one is error-free, the behaviour amongst many of the top brass is unacceptable.  These officers do not just earn a paycheque on the 15th and 30th of the month.  They are the people who are supposed to set standards of behaviour for all of us, up and down the line.  They are the face of the military as well.  People will notice admirals and generals long before they will notice the junior personnel.

In the United States, there is at least one award for which I will never be eligible.  That award is the Good Conduct Medal.  Ineligibility is not because my behaviour has been suspect.  It is because that award does not go to officers.  Our commissions are supposed to guarantee our conduct, not any expectation of an award.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider that policy.  In any event, shame on all of these flag officers who have brought disgrace on themselves and on the services they represent.


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