Did he just say that?

General Martin E. Dempsey

General Martin E. Dempsey

In the United States the military is sancrosant, and, so, when I, in the past, have written about the apparently serious issues with perquisites, fraud, and abuse among the very highest ranks of the United States military, arguing that the the corporate governance function of the military has broken down (here, here, and here,) I have, as they say, received flak.

Well, it appears that I am not alone in this view. On June 2nd, 2013, Seth Robson of Stars and Stripes (here) reported that Army General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has announced plans to cut back on the cost of the top brass, citing excessive numbers and excessive support:

“We got in the habit of surrounding general officers with a level of support that was probably excessive in some ways,” he said…. “What’s it going to look like if somebody sees you staying in the Ritz-Carlton … for four days and doing one hour’s worth of work?”

Well, that is, of course, a good question, and the answer is that it looks bad, and frankly, should be cause for immediate termination with loss of pension and benefits (it is, after, all tantamount to theft from the United States taxpayers.)

General Dempsey, who is of Irish American descent, is an interesting figure, having earned a Masters degree in literature on the basis of a thesis about the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (also known simply as W. B. Yeats.)

I have written about this corporate governance issue in particular with relation to General John R. Allen, General David Howell Petraeus, General Jeffrey A. Sinclair, and General William E. Ward, three of which managed to, on top of what appear to be egregious behavior by a senior employee of the Federal Government, retire with full pension. Compare that to a lowly rural letter carrier from Pasadena, Maryland, who in 2001 was convicted for stealing bank convenience checks and was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of probation. Needless to say the carrier was terminated and lost his pension.

Evidently, I am not alone in being outraged by the behavior of these four generals. Mr. Robson writes:

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned the military to keep the brass in line after expense account abuse came to light by the general formerly in charge of U.S. Africa Command, adultery by retired Gen. David Petraeus, and accusations of rape and sexual abuse by Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander for support of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Dempsey said the behavior needs to be reined in as part of the personnel reduction and that generals and admirals will be subject to character review boards.

The personnel reduction is a reference to a long overdue reduction of the number of generals and admirals in the United States armed forces. Amazingly, there are approximately 1,000 generals and admirals, overseeing fewer than 2 million service-members. This number should be compared to the 2,000 generals and admirals that during the height of World War II oversaw 12 million service-members. Now, finally, this number is evidently going to be reduced by some 144 generals and admirals.

Good for General Dempsey. Evidently, sometimes it takes a poet to control the warriors.

Update
General James E. Cartwright

General James E. Cartwright

On June 27th, 2013, Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department is targeting General James E. Cartwright[/caption], a retired United States Marine Corps general who served who served as the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had previously been the head of the United States Strategic Command, in an investigation into a leak of information about Stuxnet, the covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program.

You may wonder how a United States Marine Corps General would come to know about Stuxnet, and, for the matter, why a Marine General would end up heading up the United States Strategic Command, a branch of the United States military probably best known for its primary mission: Deterring nuclear attack with a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent force.

If so, you probably are not be alone, since, after all, the United States Marine Corps has no nuclear capabilities and is not exactly known for subtle, covert missions.

As it happens, General Cartwright was moved into the position during the reign of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, probably in a vintage-Rumsfeld move to stir things up at the Pentagon.

Oddly enough, at the time, the United States military’s main cyberwarfare unit was organized under the United States Strategic Command, consistent with the branch’s fourth mission: Building cyberspace capability and capacity. And, so, it would come that a General of the United States Marine Corps, an expeditionary force-in-readiness, would end up having direct knowledge of a top-secret covert operation aimed at delaying or destroying Iran’s nuclear capability.

If General Cartwright is indicted and found guilty, this will be yet another case of a failure of corporate governance in the military. If so, one can only hope that the Pentagon will at least have the common sense to take away General Cartwright’s pension and retirements benefits, so as to not cause more embarrassment for the military and have the United States tax payer pay for what is effectively another in a seemingly endless string of dishonored generals.

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