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December 09, 2013

Again With the Idiotic Conspiracy Theories

This kind of ignorance and sloppiness is embarrassing:

This week, we published a story on a U.S. Army General calling for the resignation of Barack Obama and other administration officials. Now, we have a very disturbing list of military high-ranking officers that have been purged from the Obama administration.

The linked article begins by grouping the supposedly "purged" officers into categories like "Commanding Generals Fired". Briefly scanning the list turns up several examples that only make sense if one completely redefines the word "fired" to mean "got out voluntarily at the end of his career":

General Allen wasn't fired. He retired after 36 years of service. General Petraeus wasn't fired. He retired after 37 years of service.

Another supposed "purgee" - Jim Mattis - also retired... after 41 years of service.

But the real traveshamockery is here:

157 [ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN] Air Force majors forced into early terminations, no retirement or benefits.

All 157 had been twice passed over for promotion and were within six years of retirement.

Does this person seriously not understand the military's up-and-out promotion system? During his 30 year career, the spousal unit and I saw countless officers "forced out" after the they twice failed selection for promotion. He fully expected to be fired forced out if he failed promotion.

The armed forces are neither a lifetime sinecure nor an entitlement program. No one is owed 20 years in the military, and anyone with "conservative" in their site name should not be stirring up hate and discontent over perfectly normal attrition.

Officers like this one (who was not on the "complete list of officers fired") deserve to be fired:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Panetta stripped Gen. William "Kip" Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000.

...A report by the Defense Department inspector general found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The report detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for Ward, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he traveled to Washington.

If you want to destroy everything the military stands for, it's hard to think of a better way than to encourage or endorse this sort of oxygen thievery. Do some research, and stop beclowning yourselves (and by extension, other conservatives who have legitimate grievances against this administration).

Lord knows there's plenty of ammunition out there as it is. We don't need to make stuff up.

Posted by Cassandra at December 9, 2013 08:06 AM

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Comments

I'm not sure I understand the whole "stripped of a star" thing. The highest permanent rank is 2-star general (or admiral), with 3, 4, or 5 stars being had only by virtue of the billet held at the time. I remember when CINCLant (4 stars) was chosen to be the next CNO (also 4 stars), and for the two month in between period, he was paid only at the 2-star rate.

But I don't know how the retirement thing works, and whether it is automatic or the result of Senate approval. In the pre-1960 (or thereabouts) period, it was common for officers to be bumped one rank for retirement, so I assume that the statutory authority existed. As I say, I don't know what the statutory rules are now.

Posted by: Rex at December 9, 2013 05:44 PM

OK, this is a blog with folks that are familiar with our military. Having said that, I don't care much about generals/admirals getting fired/shitcanned for whatever reason or no reason at all. That's part of civilian control of our military.
I'm deeply disturbed by the apparent (over) politicization of our general officer staff. Not so long ago at least some of those guys were willing to make a credible threat to resign over serious policy errors. Current crop looks weak and worthless to me; I'd ascribe an unkind epiphet if this was not a blog run by and frequented by very nice women.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at December 10, 2013 02:49 AM

Having said that, I don't care much about generals/admirals getting fired/shitcanned for whatever reason or no reason at all. That's part of civilian control of our military.

But is that really what's happening? I've seen exactly no evidence of that so far (scads of hyperbolic accusations and sly innuendos notwithstanding).

If generals or admirals are getting fired for no reason at all, that's not a good thing. It's not apparent to me (at all) that there's any politicization of the general officer staff, either. Generals and admirals are and always have been political animals - that's how they get to be generals and admirals. But I've not noticed them being political in the sense of open partisanship. The Hatch Act is observed pretty strictly, and that's a good thing IMO.

All I've seen so far are a bunch of splashy accusations sourced in nothing more than unsupported suggestions. When you start to check into the supposed "facts", the first thing you find out is that the author has misrepresented them and clearly doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

Not convincing at all. It's nothing more than blatant pandering to emotion.

I know a lot of folks really want to believe the worst of this White House, but our beliefs should be based on evidence, not wild speculation (or worse, "facts" that are just plain wrong). There's plenty to be angry about, but so far there's no "there", here.

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 06:50 AM

"scads of hyperbolic accusations and sly innuendos notwithstanding"

Hey! My innuendos are always with standing.
harumph
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 10, 2013 01:26 PM

I prefer my innuendoes to be laying down. Preferably scantily dressed.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 10, 2013 02:31 PM

General Petraeus wasn't fired. He retired after 37 years of service.

This does bring up something I've been wondering about. There is a difference between a "Well done, thou good and faithful servent" retirement and a "Ms. Lerner, I expect your notice in the morning" retirement.

I doubt Patraeus would have retired when he did had his infidelity not come to light. I just don't find it much of a stretch to think someone from the Administration (though I would hope the Bush Admin would have done this too) walking into Patraeus' office and remarking how it might be a good idea to go spend more time repairing his marriage and that retirement would likely be in everyone's best interest. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

Perhaps it says something more about me, but *if* I were one to want to remake the military leadership I wouldn't do it by going around firing leaders in job-lots. I would do it by trying to make attrition work for me. Retirement is so much more pleasant for everyone.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 10, 2013 03:02 PM

Ppppptttthhhhhttttthhhh :)

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 03:02 PM

OK, that "pppphhhhtttthhh" was supposed to go on another thread. Comment in haste...

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 03:22 PM

I doubt Patraeus would have retired when he did had his infidelity not come to light.

From the CIA? My understanding of the timing is that the affair happened after his retirement in August of 2011. It didn't come to light until 2012.

So I don't see how the affair and his military retirement can possibly be related unless there's something we don't know. Here's a timeline:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/12/politics/petraeus-timeline/

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 03:28 PM

OK, I see what happened now. The "pppttthhhh" referred to your innuendos comment, and while I was posting it, you posted the Petraeus comment.

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 03:30 PM

Perhaps it says something more about me, but *if* I were one to want to remake the military leadership I wouldn't do it by going around firing leaders in job-lots. I would do it by trying to make attrition work for me. Retirement is so much more pleasant for everyone.

That's exactly what the military is doing. I wrote before about how the ratio of senior officers to the rest of the service is MUCH higher now than it has been traditionally. And the military is downsizing - everyone (except perhaps for the conspiracy theory crowd) knows this already.

So - based on nothing more than this knowledge - we should already expect stepped up attrition of senior officers. It's a natural outcome of decisions made years ago and the winding down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What I don't think most folks consider is: what in the holy heck do they think guys at this level are going to go for their next job? How do you top Supreme Commander, Afghanistan? These aren't guys who are just marking time - they got to the top because they want a challenge.

At the pointy end of the rank pyramid, there are very few jobs for these guys even during wartime. With the downsizing, DoD is consolidating commands and that means even fewer top jobs. And finally, 30 years is the "normal" max career span - these guys are ALL well past that.

Very weak sauce for conspiracies.

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 03:34 PM

Well, my wondering is more that given the top heavy nature of military command at the moment, high amounts of attrition are expected.

I could then use that as cover for keeping just a handful of yes-men and while gently nugding all dissenting voices gently out the door. I could still "purge the ranks", just without all the nastiness.

Now I'm not saying Obama *is* doing this. Frankly, even if he wanted to, I highly doubt he's *capable* of doing it. It would take more effort, planning, diligence, and involvement than he's demonstrated so far.

I'm just saying that if I had nefarious intentions, that's how I'd do it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 10, 2013 04:01 PM

Now I'm not saying Obama *is* doing this. Frankly, even if he wanted to, I highly doubt he's *capable* of doing it. It would take more effort, planning, diligence, and involvement than he's demonstrated so far.

It would also require that he actually care about/pay attention to the military. That alone is enough to merit extreme skepticism.

It would also require the cooperation of all the services. I often wonder if these nitwits understand just what they're implying about the military?

Posted by: Cass at December 10, 2013 04:13 PM

additional observations:
- we really do have *waay* too many flag officers, and the only way to properly hack down the bloat will be to change staff structure. Possibilities:
. . . wipe out a few area commands. Give Africa back to Eucom (it hasn't worked anyway), fold Southcom into Atlantic/European Command, divide Centcom between Eucom & Pacom; *then* consolidate all the service commanders under them (i.e. fold fifth fleet back into seventh, etc)
. . . big opportunity IMO would be to wipe out the USAF; they have wasted a gazillion $$$ on strategic bombers, most of which were nearly useless for designed purpose before they entered service. (very old Navy joke: Q; what is the largest single air force in the world by airframes? A; US Army, because USAF has never given a d*mn about close air support.
. . . downgrade *all* admin type jobs to O-6; there's no good reason the should be a brigadier or commodore.
. . . brutally slash NATO rank structure; we've drained more than half the real soldiers, and it was always overranked anyway; worst sort of military/diplomatic politics.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at December 11, 2013 10:10 PM

Regarding "157 [ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN] Air Force majors forced into early terminations, no retirement or benefits."

There may have been some inequity here that had not been a problem in previous years. The inequity is that a person who had been passed over for Major the first time he was eligible but promoted "above the zone" or in a subsequent year would have over 18 years of service by the time he would be passed over for the next grade (LTC) twice. Why is 18 years significant? 18 years is the effective tenure point in a military career. Once you hit that point nothing short of court martial will keep you from attaining retirement at 20 years.

So there was an identified inequity that a person who was promoted "on time" or "below the zone" - (ahead of normal time) would be penalized. If that person was then passed over twice for LTC, the next promotion, he would not have reached 18 years and therefore the "up or out" system would have force you out of the service.

So the "fix" previously applied was a policy that in order to avoid that inequity you would be "continued" until you got your 20. So, in effect, attaining Major assured one of reaching retirement eligibility.

I guess they are willing to accept such an inequity today if it saves them some retirement money.

(PS: I know the previous policy well because I was one of those who was passed over for Major the first time and made it the next year and would have hit 18 years service by the time I would have been passed over twice for LTC - but I avoided the problem by making LTC when I first became eligible for it.)

Posted by: SShiell at December 16, 2013 02:00 AM

For some reason I didn't see this comment earlier. Thanks for your comment!

Over the years I've seen various promotion and retention policies come and go. Many weren't "fair" on an individual level, but that really wasn't the main focus of the policy (the oft-cited 'good of the service' was).

When the Spousal Unit first got in, almost all officers were USMC Reserve and you had to be augmented if you wanted to stay in. The Marine Corps lost a LOT of good people due to that policy, but I suspect they were OK with that as the policy met their end strength requirements.

I remember the Unit worrying about being augmented, and then worrying a whole lot again about promotions as he approached the 20 year mark. At that time, I believe you could stay in until 20 so long as the Marine Corps could use you, but most folks didn't do that. It really was mostly an up-or-out system. I don't recall anyone thinking that policy was some sort of inalienable right, though.

Posted by: Cass at December 20, 2013 09:43 AM

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