WAKE FOREST, N.C., September 15, 2013 — Political correctness may now be the new discriminating criteria for promotion up the ranks of the U.S. military.
Before anyone gets up in arms over this question, reflect on the scarcity of any outcry against recent U.S. military actions. A commissioned officer in the U.S. military has voluntarily sworn to unconditionally exhibit the following:
“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Unlike the enlisted oath of office, the aforementioned oath says nothing about obeying the orders of the President of the United States. This is because commissioned officers are charged with a higher level of responsibility. Military regulations, especially the Standard Organization and Regulations Manual (SORM) for each branch of service clearly outline the sobering responsibility of the following elements: “Leadership, Command, and Authority.”
So important is the requirement for good order and discipline that U.S. naval vessels when deployed give the ship’s captain autonomous authority. That authority is so far reaching that a member embarked in a deployed vessel may not opt to have his/her disciplinary proceeding referred to a courts martial. In such cases, the ship’s captain determines whether to subject the individual to Article 15 disciplinary measures, or refer them to a courts martial.
When our fighting forces are on the front line, figuratively at the tip of the sword of military intervention, the officer in command has to act in accordance with what is best for U.S. interests in light of that officer’s constitutional authority and military objective. But if the screening process is positioning and promoting men and women who are more interested in aligning themselves with a predisposed political ideology, he/she is not likely to act in a principled and responsible manner when tough decisions of command authority must be made.
Consider Benghazi and the order to stand-down military actions, despite the clear need for U.S. military action and intervention to protect our vital U.S. interests. Which military officers went along with the political objective of inaction in Benghazi? Why did they remain silent? Were they threatened with removal from command or demotion? What about the possibility of military action in Syria to support factions that are against U.S. interests and our important ally, Israel? Where are the voices speaking directly to the salient issues germane to what our military should or should not be doing in the Middle East?
What about other changes and modifications to traditional military policy? Consider whether or not senior officers should address the following issues head-on:
Is it advisable to relax/reduce physical fitness standards to allow women to enter operational specialties that were previously exclusively male?
Is there a Constitutional violation of religious freedom when military members are prohibited from teaching and preaching in a religious setting that certain social mores are sinful, while being commanded to condone these same social behavior that oppose their faith?
Is it Constitutional for military directives to be handed down that clearly violate the military edict of aiding and abetting the enemy?
An indirect corollary to the above is the fact that senior enlisted (E7 and above) cannot be demoted without the due process of a trial by courts martial. The crafters of military regulations wisely determined that senior enlisted have to have the latitude to respectfully speak out against perceived wrongdoing within a command without fear that so doing may result in their being demoted in paygrade.
Many of the men and women in today’s U.S. military are conscientious, professional, dedicated, principled, and fully supportive of the U.S. Constitution. We applaud their continued honorable service. But based on the things going on today, there seems to be reasonable cause to question the policies that are being handed down.
Are senior officer selection boards and screenings being populated with individuals who are predisposed to choosing officers that will primarily support a narrow political ideology? If any military members have solid evidence that this is the case, they should be bold enough to petition their chain of command as well as make inquiry to cognizant officials under the Inspector General of their respective branch of service.
Our military officers are beholden to the American people and the U.S. Constitution. All other entities must be similarly aligned with the former in order to issue a lawful order to a commissioned officer of the United States military.
Bill Randall is a retired U.S. Navy Command Master Chief. He has served under joint allied command on the staff of Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (1989-1992).
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