Friday, June 15, 2012

A is for Army, not for Accountability

My twitter-stream is chock full of ire this morning.  Why?  Because the American Army seems to think that accountability is, what, Canadian?  When a Canadian general has improper relations with a subordinate in Afghanistan, he is immediately re-called, court-martialed and reduced in rank.  When an American colonel engages in a variety of crimes and breaks a bunch of regulations--including fraud, bigamy, conduct unbecoming an officer, he gets fined.  His wife's take:
"Justice was certainly not served," Mrs. Johnson wrote. "This is a reinforcement of the notion that if your father is a general, and or, you are a colonel or senior leader, and or, you graduate from West Point, you can be found guilty of illegal activity, and conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman in the United States Army, and yet you can retire with full pay and benefits. Its my opinion that this is not a good message and does not reflect the Army values.

Perhaps Colonel James Johnson III was protected by the West Point background.  Perhaps because his father was a three-star general.  Whatever.  It sends a clear message that Colonels are essentially above the law even though they often have the job of enforcing behavior.  Sure, he lost his job as commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, but he should have been sent to jail and reduced in rank. 

This is just awful, awful, awful.  So, the Army seems to have similar ethical problems as the USAF.  Lovely.

1 comment:

Jon Acuff said...

When I was in the USA in the early '90s, one of my friends was the CO of a training company at the Signal School. One of the Captains in his company was a cocaine dealer (apparently O-3 pay wasn't cutting it). It took the Army 18 months to move her through the UCMJ system, with the process only resulting in a less than honorable discharge. I heard several similar stories during my limited AD experience.

I don't think it is just general officers and the upper field grades, although they certainly enjoy much more protection. Army "justice" is really, really inefficient with regard to officers. After all, despite overwhelming evidence of command responsibility for the handful of war crimes cases that have been brought to light in Iraq (when we were there) and Afghanistan, how many officers of any rank were prosecuted, let alone convicted? Apart from the female MP BG at Abu Ghraib who dropped to COL, how many were reduced in rank?

I could not agree with you more. It is awful. Does it connect with any larger issues related to command/leadership responsibility?