Congratulations to Major Margaret Witt on her victory over the Department of Defense’s inane “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Seven years of legal struggle must have felt far longer than that when lived under a homophobia-motivated, bureaucratic Sword of Damocles. The United States is a slightly more honorable place now that Major Witt’s former employer has begrudgingly acknowledged her value as a career officer, caring nurse and torchbearer for LGBT equality.
Now that I’m done congratulating Maj. Witt, it’s time to examine the DoD’s priorities. Clearly, as demonstrated by the weight of the legal arsenal thrown against such a decorated, well-liked officer, the DoD prefers Quixotic stands against it’s own employees to tackling real issues. The organization apparently has so much free time and cash on its hands that it can commit hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold man-hours trying to figure out if one of their flight nurses prefers oysters or snails, but can’t keep track of mountains of small arms shipped to terrorist states. If the World War 2-era War Department had been this bad at its job, I’d be writing this entry in German.
Shame on an organization as sprawling, omnipresent and money-hungry as the DoD. Prioritizing Puritanical witch-hunts that pull professional life-savers like Maj. Witt from the field over, say, using those resources to take a long, hard look at something as damaging to the force as sexual assault and rape in the ranks is simply unacceptable, cowardly and weak. I for one would like to see a list of names of the officers involved in the DADT proceedings against Maj. Witt so that she or some helpful agency can sue them for negligence and actions contrary to the good order and discipline of the military. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Perhaps we should look into finding our obviously underemployed, high-ranking DoD employees and career officers some sort of project, endeavor or mission with which to occupy themselves in a more productive manner. They certainly shouldn’t have the luxurious amounts of time on hand necessary to waste taxpayer dollars in fruitless attacks on loyal, hardworking servicewomen. What good is a general sitting at a desk in the Pentagon? All that training, all that expertise, rotting away in the basement of our largest, most visible terrorist target. Permanent overseas deployments to combat zones for all DoD staff O-6 and above would keep them safe from harm and safe from descending into bureaucratic, Paul Fussel-style “chickenshit” out of boredom.
Perhaps the bureaucracy is so entrenched and the staff at the top so inherently hidebound and wholly-owned by their future employers in the defense industry that they should just be fired and replaced. If they can’t prove their worth by, say, procuring a combat rifle that doesn’t have to be treated like a porcelain doll or a combat uniform that doesn’t fall apart or split at the crotch, with a camouflage pattern that works in terrain other than your grandma’s couch, why should we retain them?
Perhaps the hundreds of flag-rank officers that currently occupy desks in Baghdad’s “green zone,” busily creating PowerPoint slides that say nothing should be laid off or sent to waste taxpayer dollars at our newest boondoggle factory, AFRICOM. The cash we save can be used to retain our company-grade officers before they realize that more money, more time with their kids and more successful marriages can be had working for Lockheed Martin or Bechtel than standing in the ranks of the 10th Mountain. Instead we fire honest officers and keep our young leaders frustrated and overworked.
If half of the JAG types who searched for evidence that Maj. Witt’s sexual identity somehow affected “good order and discipline” instead audited the DoD’s poorly-maintained, haphazard records of sexual assault and rape, looking for obfuscations, omissions and outright lies, more rapist Soldiers and more rape-enabling unit commanders and NCOs would be breaking rocks in Ft. Leavenworth’s stockade. As it stands now, homophobic cubicle-warriors with more Excel spreadsheets than sense staff the Pentagon, fraud, waste and abuse has reached staggering levels and rapists go unpunished.
Major Witt’s case sends a clear message to the Pentagon: It’s time to do some house cleaning.