Political Officers of the People’s Defense Commissariat


Over on the Front Porch, the ever-thoughtful Commander Salamander has some very good thoughts on an initiative by which commanders and General/Flag Officers would be subject to evaluation above and beyond what should be the considered judgment of their reporting seniors and reviewing officers.   Salamander calls it “Outsourcing Leadership”, and so it is.  He makes good arguments as to why such a thing should be anathema to anyone who considers him/herself worthy of high command.

While I agree with everything Sal says, I do believe very strongly that the implications are far more destructive than he points out.   What this new “review” is setting the conditions for is nothing less than an evaluation of Officers in the US Armed Forces for their political and social reliability.   We have had a long tradition of political non-alignment among especially our senior commanders, but also among Officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, which has largely protected us from the scourge of a military that is a social force that has its say in national politics.  No Kurt Schleicher or Francisco Franco here.  Our military leaders who have held office have been retired from the Armed Forces before doing so.   Any test of political and social reliability was in the obverse, in that propriety was maintained by refraining from expressing personal opinions or political views in uniform, especially as a part of official duties of office.

The landscape changed dramatically in 2009, when CJCS Admiral Mike Mullen indulged in telling Congress and the American people, unsolicited, his personally-held views on repeal of DADT and open service for homosexuals in America’s military.  At the time I warned of the damage of that unprofessional, arrogant, and selfish act.   Soon, Mullen informed our service men and women that, unless they held the same personal beliefs he did, they were not fit to serve, and should “vote with their feet”.   We were on our way down the well-greased slope.

This Administration, many of whose principles have openly and loudly expressed their disdain for our military (Hillary Clinton conspicuously among them), has spared no effort to co-opt military leadership into conforming to a political stance.  Even when Stanley McChrystal was justifiably relieved, he blithely informed the American public that he had indeed personally voted for Obama, and such a revelation garnered scant attention.  One has to imagine that, had he mentioned he had voted for John McCain, the howls of the Administration and its complicit “free press” would have been deafening.  Rightly.  But because McChrystal voted “correctly”, not a peep of of objection was heard.

The push to allow Commanding Generals to order confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from service members in private residences has far less to do with any kind of prevention, and much more to do with General Officers falling in behind a gun control agenda that anyone in DoD is willing to admit.  Violation of due process and Constitutional liberties of those who defend our freedom is scant cost for active advocating of a Leftist crusade.

In the midst of escalation of rhetoric and sabre-rattling of a nuclear North Korea and a China bullying our allies over two sets of disputed islands, the Commander of the Seventh Fleet informs us that he believes the biggest security threat in his assigned Area of Operations is….  global warming.   Someone in Locklear’s position who says something so patently absurd and politically pandering should be relieved forthwith as someone who lacks the judgment and/or integrity to lead.  If he doesn’t believe his own words, he is disingenuous and untrustworthy.  If he does, he is an imbecile.  In either event, he does not belong where he is.  But, of course, he remains.  He toes the line of political agenda.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a political appointee, volunteers the US Navy to be a beta-tester of biofuels, at enormous expense, not least of which is the up-front cost of the fuel itself, but as yet undetermined is the cost of the damage that the corrosion and water will do to extremely expensive systems in ships and aircraft in the medium-long term.  While Mabus doesn’t wear a uniform, I would speculate that nobody who does raised a single objection to SECNAV in any way, or told him how inappropriate such measures were, that it amounted to incestuous political pandering at the expense of readiness and warfighting.  Not one.

When outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta fired his parting political broadside and removed the exclusion of putting women in combat arms units (the issue is NOT women in combat, and anyone honestly evaluating the situation knows that), there were loud promises from every corner that standards would not be lowered.  Until CJCS General Dempsey quickly said that the would be, to accommodate making women successfully pass the training requirements.

To anyone who watches what is said and not said, all these occurrences are signposts that point in the direction of travel.  This “review process” is another waypoint on that journey of the destruction of the fiber of our Armed Forces and its leadership.  That same CJCS, General Marty Dempsey, is now mandating that the review program will include inspections.

The inspections will not be punitive, but will provide a “periodic opportunity for general officers and flag officers to understand whether, from an institutional perspective, we think they are inside or outside the white lines,” he said. In addition, new programs will be instituted to ensure that a commander’s staff, and a spouse, are fully aware of military regulations.

This is the Marty Dempsey who violated his oath to our Constitution on two occasions, actively criticizing the legal free expression of private citizens in direct violation of that Constitution he is sworn to support and defend against all enemies.  In the Benghazi incident, Dempsey’s admonitions amounted to a deliberate falsehood, a lie, to perpetuate the lies told us by our State Department (and Hillary Clinton) that the attack on the embassy was a spontaneous one stemming from a demonstration regarding an online anti-Muslim video, when both he and SecState knew good and well their words were false.   He readily and easily forfeited his integrity for his bosses.  Are we now expected to believe that those “white lines” reflect the traditional role of the non-political military officer?   The traditional tenets of leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, integrity, judgment, courage, decisiveness, and the others, will be pre-empted and eventually superceded by assurance of political reliability and the “correct” beliefs regarding social and political issues, and a willingness to set aside one’s honor at the behest of military and political seniors.

Why ever would we expect any different?  Men (and women) in uniform who behave as political sycophants should not be trusted to lead.   Certainly, Martin Dempsey has proven on several occasions not to be worthy of my trust, nor yours.  Except to use these new standards of performance as a tool to remake the senior officers of our military in his image, that of a pliant servant of political masters, whose oath to the Constitution is a mere gesture.   Those who conform to that mold will not be worthy of our trust, either.    When the choice is between obedience to our Constitution or obedience to political bosses, why, it won’t be a choice at all.

Alles klar, Herr Kommisar?

7 thoughts on “Political Officers of the People’s Defense Commissariat”

  1. I’m going to take the program at face value. I see an attempt in this to get general officers some objective (i.e. anonymous) feedback on their performance from subordinates and peers, combined with a program to rein in GO’s staffs in size and scope, plus educate them, including spouses, about what constitutes appropriate behavior (no comment…). I see nothing in the write-up to cause alarm. Indeed, more than once, I have wished that I could provide input of this nature. The program will probably aspire to much more than it actually achieves, anyway. The current MSAF 360 for grades up to O5 is poorly designed, using 5 screens of intangible (frankly dumb questions like “how effective is this officer at extending their influence outside the chain of command?) but gives two questions of note: what does this officer do well; and, what does this officer do poorly? Nobody sees the results but the rated officer, who has the opportunity, but not the requirement for coaching. At the O6 level,the survey offers much more personal feedback, and I believe assigns a mandatory coach. Incoming brigade commanders take it at the Pre-Command Course, and all take it every three years. Supposedly the feedback is quite good. (I am about to provide feedback to someone for the first time on this program.) The GO version will probably be more in-depth, more personalized, and even more close-hold. I don’t believe for a minute that it will screen for political opinions and provide feedback to political leadership about their subordinates. I may find out I am wrong some year, but I don’t think so. I say this all without denying that there is some excessive politicization of some in the officer corps.

    1. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but there were many who wouldn’t have believed for a minute that a General Officer would reveal who he voted for while an active duty Officer, or believed for a minute that the CJCS would call a private citizen to tell him to refrain from lawful free expression. That has been a long minute in both cases.

  2. You know my views on this, URR. I TOTALLY ‘agree with every syllable and consonant–let alone with every word–of everything you said. But I’m afraid I must seriously castigate you for one notable sin of omission: How could you possibly forget to include Army Chief of Staff George Casey when, after the Ft. Hood shootings openly stated that “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty I think it’s worse.” Had I been El Cid/Maximum leader at the time I would have fired him on the spot for that remark–but of course the fact that it is axiomatic that I (or you) would have automatically done so is EL PRIMO prima facia evidence of our obvious unfitness for for political office (or Flag Rank, for that matter) , n’cest-ce pas? 🙂

  3. That’s OK, URR, don’t be too hard on yourself–you know I grovel at your feet. (besides which you outrank me 🙂 )

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