November 18, 2022

Bradley Manning’s Treachery a Symptom of Poor Leadership

I’m an Army veteran – a former Signals Intelligence Analyst, specifically. I joined up after 9/11 and did my bit for 5 years. I’ve been out of the military for a while now, but I think about my experiences nearly every day.

I’m also a progressive democrat, lucky to live in one of the most liberal cities in the country, if not the world. I compost, I use water-saving shower heads and fluorescent light bulbs, eat organic things when they’re on sale, vote for public transportation and higher taxes (gasp!) and meet various other liberal criteria. I do not, however, own a pair of Birkenstocks. Yet. They look comfortable but I just can’t make the leap into that level of hippie-dom.

Because of my liberal tendencies and an unfortunate habit of forgetting to unsubscribe from email blasts that all seem to read, “Call Your Congressman About (Insert Liberal Cause of the Moment),” I get a lot of mail in my inbox about Bradley Manning. Most of it starts with something like this: Free Bradley Manning! To a lot of folks on the left, Bradley Manning is some kind of whistleblower avatar, an embodiment of the struggle for truth against the evil Obama police state. Or Bush police state. Depends on who sent the e-mail. Nobody has floated the kid for president, but he was selected to be the Grand Marshal of San Francisco’s Pride parade for a while, an unfortunate decision that was thankfully nipped in the bud.

I think that I have a bit of credibility when I say in response to the endless stream of “free Bradley Manning” emails that pollute my inbox: Bradley Manning is a traitor. Period.

He’s not a hero, or a “whistleblower.” He’s a traitor, a despicable, petulant, opportunistic, cowardly traitor, who only after his treachery and arrest has latched on to his gender identity struggles as if being a gay or trans man in uniform during the dark days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell somehow justified his crime (a massive slap in the face to every LGBT soldier I served alongside). Right now people who know the particulars of the law far better than I do are preparing to destroy him in court, so I won’t dwell on that portion of the ongoing saga. I’m not qualified. I will be glad to see him vanish into the bowels of a military prison, and if they hang him, I won’t mind.

What I’d like to offer up is this question: Why don’t we know more about the Non-Commissioned Officers and Commissioned Officers in Manning’s life? The fact that this case even exists is an illustration of just how bad the military can be when senior enlisted soldiers and officers fail to do their duty – fail to weed out the people who just don’t belong in the military.

Full disclosure: When I was a junior enlisted soldier, fresh out of training, I wasn’t exactly beloved of my supervisors. Late, lazy, scatterbrained, opinionated…I definitely wasn’t a criminal, but I was a problem. Luckily, good Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) in my units noticed that I required their professional assistance, and helped me grow and mature, until by the end of my time in the service I was actually doing a pretty good job. I wasn’t the best soldier ever, but I certainly wasn’t the worst, and that’s because my supervisors were attentive and interested in seeing me succeed. I even made the rank of Sergeant before I got out for good, and found the things that I could do on behalf of my soldiers as an NCO very rewarding.

That’s the way the military is supposed to work. It’s part of what soldiers mean when they talk about camaraderie. The fact that Manning even had the opportunity to do the harm he did is a crime almost as bad as the act of treason itself. The NCO Support Channel and the undeservedly vaunted Chain of Command failed to do what they are supposed to do. Manning’s leaders are almost as guilty as he is, and by any fair standard they should be encouraged to find employment outside of the military, where their lax attitude and aversion to actually commanding won’t put American lives at risk.

Manning had a long record of insubordinate, rude, and bizarre behavior. From a revealing article in the Army Times:

“Among the claims made during the fifth day of an Article 32 hearing here: Manning threw a screaming tantrum in front of his noncommissioned officer; flipped over a desk and attempted to grab a rifle; and dropped into the fetal position when reprimanded by his NCO.”

That is a condensed version of the sort of antics that Manning’s chain of command tolerated, and therefore encouraged and supported, in an obviously substandard and deeply troubled soldier. You don’t have to search very hard to find references to his frail mind, weak will and violent tendencies. He never should have made it out of a recruiter’s office, much less to a combat unit.

A key take-away from this article is that his immediate supervisor was a Specialist – a junior enlisted rank without any real authority that is often thrust into a leadership role without much training or backup. This Specialist did all she could do in the face of Manning’s outrageous behavior: she reported Manning’s continued outbursts to a senior NCO, where in a sane world the madness would have stopped. But Manning was never stopped. The senior NCO in this equation, a Sergeant First Class Paul Adkins, never followed through on seeking punishment for Manning, and the details of how Manning was counseled – what action was taken to correct him — following each bizarre explosion are hard to find.

This shows a serious lack of leadership on the part of the commissioned officers in Manning’s unit, who should have been kept abreast of any behavioral issues in the unit – and I mean any! Either the commissioned officers were ignorant of Manning’s explosions, which is unforgivable, or were aware but disinterested, which is equally unforgivable. More likely, they were worried that drawing more attention to Manning’s tantrums would bring negative scrutiny upon them from their own superiors, something any junior officer wants to avoid if they plan on making the military a career.

Each infraction in Manning’s growing and wholly negative service record – including punching a superior-ranking soldier in the face while deployed to a combat zone, an offense that used to rate instant death  – should at the very least have pulled him out of mission-related work on its own merits in preparation for non-judicial punishment or a full court martial. In any quality unit, Manning would have been dishonorably discharged and kicked to the curb, where he belongs. Instead, disgruntled, violent, furious, and depressed, he was allowed to remain in the Army, as if he was still a valuable asset rather than a threat.

Perhaps this has something to do with the command culture of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Perhaps it has more to do with the command climate in Manning’s company. It might even have to do with the times – the Army in the mid-2000s was in desperate need of soldiers. We issued waivers to enable criminals and the mentally ill to enlist, and thus watered down the quality of our military with cretins like Manning. Every soldier I know who served post-9/11 and through Iraq knows another soldier who should never have enlisted, but did, thanks to the reduced standards of the Bush-era Army, and too often those soldiers’ “quirks” were overlooked so that officers could keep their units full, and thus appear functional and combat-ready… on paper. So, to the senior officers at who dumbed-down the entry requirements: Manning is partially your fault as well. Thanks, fellas. Hooah.

In any case, the information about why those who had the information and authority to properly deal with Manning chose not to is hard to come by. More details will surely emerge as his trial continues. Soon it won’t be possible for folks on the left to hide Manning’s deeply flawed character beneath the the leaked documents that he never even took the time to read.

When we hang Manning, it would be good to know that the careers of his enablers, failed NCOs and failed officers, are just as dead as he is.

How I Will Spend 11.11.11

On this year’s Veterans Day, my children and I will start the day off by attending the Veteran’s Day Parade here in Fayetteville. They are featuring the Vietnam-era veterans at the parade this year. Next, we’re off to an event called “Tweet for Troops,” after which we will head over to my hometown to finish off the day together with family. Hopefully this year’s Veterans Day will turn out better for us than last year’s, which I spent in the emergency room with my son (check out this blog post to read about those escapades). However we each spend our day today, we should of course remember all the veterans of every war, past and present, and the sacrifices they continue to make.

Believe it or not, some Americans actually confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day (check out my blog post about our 2011 Memorial Day too), but it’s important to distinguish the two. I actually got “married to the military,” so to speak, without really even knowing the difference. And it wasn’t until after I met my husband that I really began to learn and appreciate the unique and distinct history of Veterans Day. I think it’s imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former service members properly.

Did you know that Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day? It was originally set as a legal holiday to honor the end of hostilities of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” Back then, this new holiday specifically recognized and honored World War I veterans.  But in 1954, Congress changed he law to allow the day to honor and recognize veterans of all wars and periods of service.

Veterans Day was actually my great-grandfather’s favorite holiday. Why, you ask? Well, because he said it was the one day that vets got to sit around telling their stories of WWI and WWII, what Fort Bragg used to be like, who the old USO stars were. My grandfather used to tell stories of the time when he was stationed in Nice, France as a payroll clerk for the U.S. Army. I really do miss hearing his stories of how it was for him and what he did. So this year, after I attend the Veteran’s Day ceremonies and parades, I will also go to the cemetery, talk with him, remember those stories quietly, and place a flag on his grave.

I think it is critally important for us as a nation to remember and recognize our veterans, as they have to live every day with the memories, some good but some also bad, of fighting our nation’s wars. To me, Veterans Day will always be celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Veterans Deserve Better Healthcare

A May 10th ruling written by Judge Joseph Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared that the mental health care offered to veterans is so inadequate that it violates their constitutional rights. Prompt professional care is essential in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress, one of the natural consequences of facing combat. Veterans place their lives on the line for their country and then return home to find the services they needed are either inadequate or unavailable.

Delays in treatment carry severe results, and those with severe conditions often wait too long to get the help and support they need, according to “Returning Veterans Encounter VA Mental Health Meltdown” by Azriel James Relph of NBC News. Many veterans can experience up to an 8-week delay in obtaining a mental health referral, and this is simply not a tolerable situation. There are currently over a million severely disabled veterans are awaiting a ruling on their disability claims.

Veterans cannot wait forever to get treatment and help. Too many end up with homes foreclosed, jobs lost, families in disarray, and hope gone. The suicide rate is appalling and is getting worse. Statistics show that about 18 veterans commit suicide every day. How many troops will have to be lost after they have returned from the battlefield before something is done?

When young American men and women sign up for military service, they receive a promise. They are told that if they are injured, they will receive prompt and adequate health care. They are told that if they are disabled, they will receive adequate support. They are told that their families will be taken care of. This is the promise that has been made. Unfortunately, however, service members often come home to find that the promise evaporates under the deluge of paperwork and delays, denials and dodges.

The ruling by Judge Reinhardt called for an immediate remedy of that situation, but an adequate response remains to be seen. Delay of treatment is not an option if the veteran is to survive, let alone prosper. Congress must act to see that veterans who have faced battle receive the prompt and appropriate care, as well as the benefits that they have earned.

Douglas Karr is a Navy veteran and an advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, an online resource for patients and their families. To learn more, visit 

Don’t Just Stand By

In August, I was invited to a meet and greet for a congressman here in North Carolina and we were discussing how we can get more people involved and interested in issues and policy. I believe people have just taken for granted rights and privileges won for them so long ago. But there are still fights to be won. Now more than ever is the time to actively learn about issues affecting each of our lives - whether it be the economy, healthcare, education, military issues, or any of a whole slew of topics.

One issue that I think is paramount to military dependents is the right to vote. This right became particularly clear during the Congressional budget showdown in April 2011 when it seemed our spouses were not going to get paid. It was at this juncture that I became motivated to help dependents like me become more informed on political issues.

However, there have been a lot of spouses who I have spoken with around the US who say they do not vote. This is incredibly disappointing.

There are a number of issues that affect military spouses on the local level of which they may not be aware. Example: Were you aware Fort Bragg has been annexed by the City of Fayetteville? This allows Fort Bragg dependents the ability to vote in city and county elections. You just have to register where you live.

It is super easy to register to vote. I believe that if you do not exercise your right to vote then you should not complain about what is happening in the government.

Being a military spouse I understand it is a little difficult to vote. There are a lot of things you have to do, including giving up your permanent state driver’s license and registering in another state and in the county where you live in. Or maybe you aren’t registering because you own property in another state. But if you don’t register to vote, I urge you to get involved in the local issues that will affect you and/or your family - a vote to raise the sales tax, for example, or a vote to de-fund community colleges or primary education.

A lot of work went into allowing women’s suffrage, which is the right for women to vote and to run for office, as well as the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or marital status. Lydia Chapin Taft was an early precursor in colonial America who was allowed to vote in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Following the American Revolution, women were allowed to vote in New Jersey, but no other state, from 1790 until 1807, provided they met property requirements then in place. In 1807, women were again forbidden from voting in the state.

Equal rights became the rallying cry of the early movement for women’s rights, and equal rights meant claiming access to all the prevailing definitions of freedom. In 1850, Lucy Stone organized a larger assembly with a wider focus, the National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Susan B. Anthony, a native of Rochester, New York, joined the cause in 1852 after reading Stone’s 1850 speech. Women’s suffrage activists pointed out that blacks had been granted the franchise and had not been included in the language of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments (which gave people equal protection under the law and the right to vote regardless of their race, respectively). This, they contended, had been unjust.

There are some places in the world where women can’t vote or where voting still has conditions. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women were just granted the right to vote and run for office in certain local elections, but they still can’t drive or even go out in public without a male relative escort.

So my advice to you is this: Please get informed and get educated on the issues that impact your life and your family’s life. And if you need some encouragement, please email me at “2011ArmyMSOY [at]” and we can work through this together.

What a Hard Year for the Military!

The 10-year anniversary of 9/11 is right around the corner, and already this has been quite a hard year for the U.S. and for the military. I have been engaged in several national security classes this summer, and these have really helped illuminate the fact that the world outside of the U.S. can be a pretty scary place, especially with respect to the political unrest in the Middle East.

This year has also been pretty action-packed year - from the widely publicized deaths of members of the military to the possible government shutdowns to all the talk about budget deficits, pay cuts, and military spending. My husband always tells me, “You shouldn’t worry about military pay unless I worry,” but even he was scared twice this year that we were not going to get paid. It’s terrifying to think that we might not be able to pay our monthly financial obligations to our creditors, and we just didn’t have the extra money in savings. As a result of our daughter’s illness, our savings balance has been on the decline. When you add up all the trips to the various specialists and hospitals, it gets quite expensive.

The American people have been dealing with the possibility of a government shutdown since this past April, and then the problem resurfaced here again in August. Since no solid agreements were reached in advance within a reasonable amount of time, the military, along with the citizens of the United States, were left in a state of limbo. I personally think that our service members deserve respect, and that includes being paid on time. They are putting their lives on the line, spending time away from home and are fighting the Global War on Terrorism. We as family members should not have to worry about whether the bills are going to get paid. We already accrue enough stress as it is during regular deployments.

However there are a few Senators and Representatives that are looking out for us and I commend them for standing up for service members and military families. I have been a strong supporter of the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act when it was introduced in April 2011. Despite the universally recognized righteousness of the principle behind this bill, the bill only has 80 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate and only 201 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. We can do better!

I urge you to educate yourself, your family, and your friends on the issues that pertain to us and our lives. I think the best thing we can do as responsible citizens is contact the offices of our members of Congress here in our local districts. Let them know how you feel and what you think should be done. Trust me - I talk to my congressman all the time. As a matter of fact, I talk to several and let them know exactly what I have been hearing about these issues. You should do the same.

The Great American Security Blanket

So I just jumped on the Acela train from DC to NYC this morning (using its wonderful wi-fi right now, in fact) and noticed a whole bunch of TSA personnel in Union Station for the first time, that I’ve seen. I’ve always been of the opinion that our railways are particularly vulnerable, but I also accept the relevant fact that we can’t be a police state and that resources, including TSA personnel, are limited. If we have to choose, I’d certainly rather the TSA be in airports than in train stations.

Nevertheless, when a threat emerges, I’m also glad that we have the flexibility to redistribute security resources as needed to respond to changing threats. I have no clue why the TSA was deployed to Union Station today, or these days if it’s not just today, but I’m just glad they’re there.

In fact, this episode made me think about the whole benevolent Big Brother operation that is the U.S. Intelligence Community. Even though we don’t see them, don’t pay them enough, don’t value them enough, and don’t always have enough of them, the U.S. Intelligence Community members provide us with a blanket of security the importance of which we as a society really can’t even begin to comprehend.

In much the same way that we take it for granted that every time we turn on a faucet clean water comes rushing forth in virtually any dwelling in the country, we likewise take for granted the fact that we don’t need armed guards and up-armored vehicles to travel down a highway within our borders. In Egypt, where I used to live, they accomplish that objective in limited areas of the country by stationing police and military on the highways and o nearly every street corner in major cities. But here in the United States, our guardian angels sit behind computer screens at Ft. Meade and Langley. We may never see them, but we know they’re there, especially when we see TSA personnel suddenly appear at Union Station. Coincidence? I think not.

The New Military Spouse Employment Program

As a military spouse, I know the difficulties of trying to find gainful employment, or rather a career. It is quite refreshing to see the Department of Defense assisting military spouses and linking corporate jobs and federal agencies to military spouse employment.

On June 29, 2011, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership was launched at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  The Military Spouse Employment Partnership program is an expansion of the Army Spouse Employment Partnership program and is focused on helping military spouses from all branches of the military attain financial security and achieve educational and employment goals.

This portal, which is located at, is designed to connect military spouses to careers by creating a gateway for military spouses and corporate and nonprofit organizations to interact. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership has been the latest development in an effort backed by President Barack Obama’s administration to do more to help military families. It is quite easy for military spouses to search for jobs on this new site, which hosts a database drawn from the partnering employers. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a great vehicle for providing more publicity for those services - such as Military OneSource - that can point you to resources to help you edit your resume and tailor it to a specific job. Many spouses don’t even know that such resources are available.

I have seen a lot of military spouses over the years who meet or exceed the qualifications, but they still just can’t seem to get their foot in the door.  Military spouses have wonderful attributes like dependability, maturity, flexibility, and resilience. They also have awesome leadership skills and the ability to work well under pressure, which we have all learned through deployments, trainings and separations.

I am really excited about this program and I plan on using it to brush up my resume and hopefully find a career in which I can make a difference. I personally think that this is the first time that the professional lives and careers of military spouses have truly been recognized, and it will make our lives much better.

The World’s Largest Military Baby Shower

Being the 2011 Military Spouse Magazine Army Spouse of the Year really opens a lot of doors that would not otherwise get opened. You get to really do a lot of volunteer work and outreach to military families, which I LOVE! I have met so many incredible women, and it just makes me so excited to see all these mommies. I am so lucky to be living in one of the best military-friendly counties in the state of North Carolina.

On Saturday June 25, 2023 I was lucky enough to volunteer with Fayetteville Cares. I was a table hostess for 5 of the 143 tables at the Crown Coliseum Expo Center. So are you wondering what it was about? Well it was the World’s Largest Military Baby Shower, “Boots and Booties,” for 1000 military spouses who have recently had a baby or are about to have a baby. How exciting! And I think I actually had the best tables in the entire Expo Center.

I arrived at the event at noon and received my assignment of what I had to do. As I watched all of the mommies arrive, and became quite  excited. I escorted them to which ever table they liked most and chatted with each of them to make them feel welcome.  Seeing all these mommies and some newborns almost made me wish I was pregnant. HA!  (Whew, that was a close one, but I did come back to my senses after having just finished potty training my last child).

Jenny Beaver of Fayetteville did an amazing job of decorating the Expo Center, including the cute candies that decorated the stage. The room  was decorated very brightly, with the tables colored bright pink, green,and orange. They had two types of door prizes, ones with red tickets and one with blue tickets. The blue tickets were for big item prizes like a changing table, a Disney rug and other such items. The red ticket items were for things like gift certificates, day spa prizes, photography packages,  and things for the babies.

For about an hour, the ladies walked around dropping off tickets in the door prizes they wanted to win. Around 2:30pm the event started. Joanne Chavonne and Kirk DeViere, the two co-chair, kicked the event off. They were followed by George Breece and two speakers from the military - LTG Mullholland and the Pope Army Airfield Commander. We also had a surprise speaker - LTG Helmick taped a message to our Army spouses. I approached LTG Mulholland and he remembered me from my work at USASOC as an intern and gave me a coin. I was so totally blown away by his kindness and down-to-earth personality. I also met Mrs. Mulholland and she was super sweet as well. That was my first time actually meeting and talking to her in person. I also saw Melissa Helmick and Theresa Sicinski, who are both also really supportive of spouses.

Around 3 pm we started playing Baby Bingo, which was pretty exciting. Mommies left and right were calling out BINGO, including one of the mommies at my table. About 20 gift bags later, we were back to calling out raffle tickets. As I walked back and forth to make sure all of my mommies were ok, I sensed they were most excited about the car raffle.

Right in the middle of all of this there was a surprise announcement. They suddenly asked all of the ladies at table 20 - one of my tables - to stand. A Mr. Breece then announced that since the manager at the Goodyear Tire plant was celebrating 20 years there, he was giving everyone at table 20 gift certificates for 4 brand new tires worth $1000 each. Talk about luck!

Before too long, the winner of the main giveaway - a new 2011 Chevy Cruze, courtesy of the Raleigh Area Chevy Dealers and Mike Lallier of Reed-Lallier Chevrolet - was finally announced. “And the winner is… Lauren!” She started crying, understandbly, and I was feeling the emotion of the moment too. I could have definitely used a new car free of car payments, but I was just so happy for her.

Before it was all over, yet another surprise was revealed. In a classic “Oprah moment,” the announcer told each of the ladies to look under their seats. Each mommy there then found a numbered card, which corresponded to a storage container out back behind the expo with a unique prize inside for everyone, from baby monitors to infant car seats.

Fayetteville really does care about military families.

Boots on the Ground

When I returned home from the MSOY Luncheon, I reached out to several organizations to see what I could do to help. One of the organizations I contacted was called The Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP), hosted by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its mission is to help military and community services to increase the readiness and resiliency of Reserve Component (RC) members and their families.

I was invited to speak at the CSSP Military Family Training Fayetteville, NC on May 26th, 2011 for Behavioral Health Providers offered by Citizen Soldier Support Program. This was a day-long PTSD curriculum developed by the NC AHEC system.The full-day workshop focused on aspects of today’s military family that makes us unique. Various components of the military lifestyle was reviewed such as a family perspective of military culture and the affects of deployments.

My section was called “Boots on the Ground”. Military Families face unique challenges when their loved ones deploy and manifest themselves in ways that are not always understood by others in their community. I spoke for an hour about a 1st hand account of what it feels like to be in a military family, and go through a deployment. The reason this conference was special was because the providers I was speaking too mainly dealt with active duty soldiers and their families.  I spoke about how the deployments to Iraq affected my husband and myself, also how it affected my children.

Congratulations to Major Margaret Witt

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.