The number of commanders fired under the president's watch reaches alarming levels.
Is the Obama administration in the midst of a military purge? This year alone, nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the administration, and retired generals and current commanders who have spoken to TheBlaze believe that political ideology is the primary impetus behind the effort. “I think they’re using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don’t agree with them or not toe the party line," a senior retired general told website. "Remember, as Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis.” The general spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still provides the government with services and believes this administration would retaliate against him.
The terminations have a distinctly political odor surrounding them in at least three cases. In all three of these cases, Benghazi is at root. U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham was heading the United States African Command when our consulate came under attack on September 11, 2012. Ham told Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) he was never given a "stand down" order preventing him from securing the consulate. Yet the Washington Times, citing sources in the military, said he was given the order and immediately relieved of command when he decided to defy it. The Times further noted that Ham "retired" less that two years after receiving the command when all other commanders of similar stature have stayed on far longer. Sources told TheBlaze Ham was highly critical of the Obama administration's decision not to send reinforcements to Benghazi.
Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, Commander of Carrier Strike Group Three for the Navy, was relieved of duty for allegedly using profanity and making "racially insensitive comments." Though he was cleared of criminal violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, administrative penalties have effectively ended his career. In testimony regarding Benghazi, Gaouette, who was in charge of Air Craft Carriers in the Mediterranean Sea on the night of the attack, told Congress there may not have been time to get flight crews to Libya. But under cross examination, he admitted he could have sent planes to that location.
Major General Baker, a two-star general who served as commander of the Joint Task Force-Horn at Camp Lamar in Djibouti, Africa, was fired for alcohol and sexual misconduct charges. The U.S. reportedly runs counter-terror operations out of Djibouti, and once again, military officials told TheBlaze Baker was involved in some aspect of Benghazi.
The other six were terminated for a variety of alleged offenses. Army Brigadier Gen. Bryan Roberts, commander of Fort Jackson beginning in 2011, was fired for adultery. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the U.S. Pacific Command and commander of the aviation wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, was terminated over a successful attack on that facility by the Taliban, resulting in two American deaths and the destruction of eight American planes. Sturdevant claims British forces were responsible for security at the base prior to the attack.
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles M.M. Gurganus was terminated for questioning the "winning hearts and minds" policies that led to "green on blue" murders of American officers by "trusted" Afghan recruits. Other Afghan recruits led a platoon into an enemy ambush. Army Lt. Gen. David Holmes Huntoon Jr was “censored” for “an investigation” into an “improper relationship,” according to the Department of Defense. A blog written by a 26-year-old cadet medically discharged from West Point claims the three-star general was under investigation because a West Point Superintendent "improperly used" his office, and because of an insufficient investigation of a lewd email chain perpetrated by the men's rugby team. Nothing was officially released by the DoD regarding any of the charges.
The last commanders, three-star Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, and Major General Michael Carey, were fired within 48 hours of each other. Giardina was the deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, an entity that oversees all nuclear-armed missiles, bombers and submarines. He was commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Groups 9 and 10, which comprise all 18 of our nuclear-armed submarines. He was fired for the alleged use of counterfeit gambling chips at an Iowa casino. Carey, commander of the 20th Air Force, a role that put him in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at three operational wings, was fired "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment,” said Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick. The decision to fire Carey was made by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the head of the Air Force Global Strike Command. Obama fired Giardina.
The firing of military leaders goes much further than top generals, however. On its Facebook page, Breitbart.com compiled a list of more than 197 military commanders, mostly at the rank of Colonel or above, who have been purged by the Obama administration since 2009.
According to military.com, allegations of sexual misconduct account for the firing of 30 percent of military commanders over the past eight years. That figure that increases to 40 percent when "ethical lapses" such as sexual assault and harassment, pornography, drugs and drinking are lumped together. But there are other dubious reasons why these commanders have been terminated, ranging from unspecified dereliction of duty, to improper saluting.
One of the largest purges occurred on the last day of November in 2011, when the administration terminated 157 Air Force Majors, a move the Chapman University of Military Law and its associated AMVETS Legal Clinic characterized as illegal. They noted that the Department of Defense specifies that absent extenuating circumstances, service members within six years of retirement would ordinarily be retained, and allowed to retire on time and collect benefits.
The Air force cited budget shortfalls as their primary reason for the terminations. Yet as institute director Maj. Kyndra Rotunda explained, based on the Defense Department’s Instruction 1320.08, "derogatory information" is the only reason officers can be terminated. “The defense department’s own regulation does not authorize what the defense department is doing,” Rotunda contended at the time. "The Airmen relied on the law when they entered service and now the Secretary wants to change that law, without authority.”
Earlier that same month, two-star Major Gen. Peter Fuller was relieved of his command in Afghanistan, after he told Politico that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other government officials in that country were "isolated from reality." Ironically, Fuller was fired by Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who was himself the subject of an FBI investigation a year later, for his role in the sex scandal that led to the resignation of CIA Director and retired general David Petraeus. Despite the FBI informing the Pentagon it had uncovered thousands of pages of emails between Allen and Florida socialite Jill Kelley, President Obama subsequently expressed "faith" in Allen's ability to continue doing his job. It is impossible to determine whether Allen's ideology played a role in maintaining that faith.
2012 also saw several terminations of officers based on questionable rationale. In May, Commander Derick Armstrong, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, was relieved of duty by Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe "as a result of an unprofessional command climate that was contrary to good order and discipline," according to a Navy news release. A week earlier, the Navy relieved Cmdr. Dennis Klein of command of the submarine USS Columbia, citing a loss of confidence in his ability to serve effectively.
Stars and Strips listed several other Navy commanders relieved of duty in 2012. While some on the list were terminated for seemingly legitimate reasons, a curious lack of specificity applied to others. They include Capt. James CoBell, commanding officer of Oceana Naval Air Station's Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic, who was let go for "leadership issues"; Cmdr. Franklin Fernandez, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24, for a "loss of confidence" in his ability to command due to allegedly "driving under the influence"; Capt. Marcia Lyons, commander of Naval Health Clinic New England, for problems with her "command climate"; and Capt. Sean McDonell, commander of Seabee reserve unit Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 in Jacksonville, FL, for mismanagement and unspecified “major program deficiencies.” Several others were fired for "inappropriate personal behavior" or "personal misconduct."
Theories for these purges run the gamut. One posits that anyone associated with Benghazi had to go. Another states that many of these firings are an effort to clean up "operational failures," most notably a 2007 incident in which six nuclear-tipped missiles went missing for 36 hours. Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, who has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, believes it is part of the president's strategy to reduce America's standing in the world. “[Obama is] intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged,” he contended.
Vallely's assessment was echoed by a source at the Pentagon who wished to remain anonymous because the source was not authorized to speak on the subject. He or she contended that "young officers, down through the ranks have been told not to talk about Obama or the politics of the White House. They are purging everyone and if you want to keep your job--just keep your mouth shut."
This theory finds validation when one considers the Obama administration's larger assault on the military. The military is the last organized bastion of conservative values, due in large part to the nature of the military itself. Yet in recent years, the push to embrace progressive values, such as openly gay servicemen, women in combat and diversity worship have been pursued with vigor. Even the aforementioned effort to "win the hearts and minds" of Islamists in Iraq and Afghanistan, as opposed to pursuing victory, marks a sea change from traditional military values.
Not only is the Obama administration apparently on a mission to undermine the integrity of the military in this way, but it has also revealed itself to be entirely intolerant of dissent of any kind. Whether it is reporters or domestic opposition groups such as the Tea Party, Obama has made clear he will aggressively pursue anyone who defies his agenda. Now it seems that chilling message his been sent to the military as well.
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