Admiral Mullen, CJCS, 2 February 2010:

As a murmur swept through a hearing room packed with gay rights leaders, Admiral Mullen said it was his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

He is the first sitting chairman of the Joint Chiefs to support a repeal of the policy, and his forceful expression of his views seemed to catch not only gay rights leaders but also Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is the committee’s chairman, by surprise.

MGEN Mixon, CG, US Army Pacific, 8 March 2010:

It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. I suspect many servicemembers, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen’s desire to serve and acceptable conduct.

Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.

Admiral Mullen again, 25 March, 2010:

When asked about Mixon’s letter this morning, both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen called Mixon’s actions “inappropriate” because in his leadership position, Mixon has great influence on other men and women in uniform.

*******************************************************************************

So, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the unrestricted right to express a personal opinion while testifying in uniform before Congress, but for a Commanding General to do so in an open letter to Stars Stripes is “inappropriate” because that CG has “great influence on other men and women in uniform”?

This is plain and simple hypocrisy on the part of Admiral Mullen. “Unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs”? That might be news to General Conway. If Admiral Mullen wants to be a political animal, he should take off the Navy uniform and enter the world of politics. Then, he can advocate and lobby all he wants to. If not, he should conduct himself as he apparently expects others to do.

Should Admiral Mullen decide that admonishment for expressing personal opinions in an official capacity is the order of the day, he should start early tomorrow, when he is looking in the mirror for his morning shave. If he cannot bring himself to display the most basic fundamental of leadership, that of leading by example, perhaps he should follow his own advice and “vote with his feet” right out the door.




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Uncategorized


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  • Sarah

    While it may be a fine line, I think there is a difference between expressing an opinion when one has been called to testify before Congress and taking the initiative to express one’s unsolicited opinion through the media. Mullen is not lobbying; he is following the directions of the Commander in Chief to prepare for the repeal of DADT, a direction that he just happens to personally support. By urging servicemembers to tell their chains of command that they do not support the repeal, Mixon is essentially urging service members to disrespect their chain of command and Commander in Chief. Servicemembers know that they are giving up a certain amount of freedom when they put on a uniform; criticizing policy in the media is one of the freedoms sacrificed.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Rob Farley

    I’ll concede the point on this one; Mullen shouldn’t chastise or threaten Mixon for expressing a personal opinion while characterizing his own views in such terms.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rob,

    Thanks for conceding the point. But that is like saying, “gee, the Lieutenant should really have a regulation haircut before trying to enforce grooming standards in his platoon”.

    Admiral Mullen’s hypocrisy toward General Officer, a 35-year Army veteran, is despicable.

  • andrewdb

    You seem to think that ADM Mullen is not following the instructions of his Commander in Chief (remember the State of the Union Address?).

    Writing to a newspaper to encourage people you lead to undermine or disobey the CinC, after the Army (and the Navy too) issued specific instructions not to do that kind of thing is a very different matter from testifying to a Senate committee. When LTG Mixon is called to testify (which I am assuming will be momentarily now) he, of course, has the same right to give his honest opinion to the Senate.

  • RhodeIslander

    You know, God made 10 percent of us Alcoholics and we really should not try to fight this problem. We should just “give into” the way we’re made and accept this fact. We cannot possibly change or even resist being alcoholics. In fact, since the Creator of the Universe gave us this gene, He expects us to celebrate this and never be ashamed of the way we just are. In fact, if anyone decides that we alcoholics are a potential risk for military service, then by golly, we need to stand up for our rights. We have the right to be treated like non-alcoholics. No more discrimination against alcoholics !! We can serve just like the 90 percent of people who don’t have this gene.

    Furthermore, I suggest all alcoholics wear the color wine red, to show our solidarity. And someday soon, we should have alcoholic clubs in high schools so that those 10 percent can meet together and form a club (even though we’re not supposed to be alcohol active until we turn 21) wink… wink….

  • RhodeIslander

    Modern Americans should n e v e r try to resist any tendancies we have. Give in to whatever we feel like doing.

    REMEMBER: Never struggle against any “bad” tendancies you might have. Just give up the struggle and accept the way you are.

    (and also demand that everyone tell you that you’re OK,too)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Andrew,

    I seem to think precisely that Admiral Mullen, testifying in uniform before Congress, expressed his personal opinion when it was inappropriate to do so. Had his personal opinion on the matter been specifically solicited, the Admiral should have declined to answer. When he is wearing that uniform, his professional opinions are pertinent, but not his personal ones. Those personal opinions are irrelevant. Doing the same in any other public forum regarding political issues while wearing a uniform is rightfully forbidden.

    Expressing opinions to elected officials constitutes “undermining and disobeying” the CINC? Since when? The order to “not do that kind of thing” when such is perfectly permissible by the UCMJ and is protected free speech under the First Amendment does not constitute a lawful order in any way, shape, or form.

    When or if LTG Mixon is called to testify, his opinions regarding combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, and other issues are professional ones. His personal opinions, such as Admiral Mullen expressed, are also inappropriate and irrelevant.

  • Paul

    Last time I checked, soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen were all members of the United States and are entitled to contact their representation in congress over any matter they deem important, relevant, or even for that matter, totally whacko. That’s freedom of speech. Reminding people of that fundamental right to express themselves cannot be detrimental to good order and discipline as it’s a right, not a privilege. Sometimes things are said that may not be tactful, appropriate or perhaps even wise, but those don’t matter against the overall right.

    The irony of this issue from my humble perspective is that there are many gay military members serving honorably, perhaps even out, but only to those whom they trust– such as their squad or crew. What bothers me is the activists pushing for the repeal have absolutely no intention of picking up a weapon and standing a post. Go live the life first and then see if it’s really ready for your agenda…

  • Paul

    To follow up with my “whacko” comment– I know that at least my congressman get requests about Area 51, aliens, whether or not the latest Dan Brown book is truthful to legalizing prostitution. I can only imagine what other members of the legislature have to read from their constituents.

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com XBradTC

    Mixon isn’t in trouble for expressing a personal opinion. He’s in trouble for encouraging his subordinates to lobby their elected representatives. That IS inappropriate, and totally divorced from DADT, and any testimony that ADM Mullen has given. It is also entirely divorced from any rights to expression or petition that servicemembers may have.

    That there are people here that have trouble grasping that is worrisome.

  • YNSN

    I said that the CJCS statement was uncouth when it was made, and this is why. Now this whole situation may devolve into “If you can do it, why can’t I?”.

    Because he gave a personal opinion on an official policy in an official forum he now can not deny that to his fellow GOFOs… Well, he can, but he does so without honor.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    XBradTC,

    YNSN hit it on the nose. It is well within the rights of each serviceman/woman to petition their elected representatives.

    It is not necessarily advisable to have a Commanding General encourage them to do so. Yet, in the wake of the CJCS expressing his personal opinion on the matter while in uniform in official public testimony, Admiral Mullen admonishing LTG Mixon for doing so is a blatant and unacceptable double standard.

    LTG Mixon’s challenge to what was obviously “the party line” that the majority of the troops support repeal is also difficult to condemn in the wake of the CJCS comments. The Armed Forces had been told such before, in 1994, and it was simply not true.

    I had mentioned at the time how inappropriate and ill-advised Admiral Mullen’s words and actions were, and as YNSN points out, this is precisely why. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Charley

    Brad: Agreed.

  • Jay

    URR,

    XBradTC is correct.

    If you look down the tracks — you can barely see the train, it left the station a while ago…

    Treating people fairly is the right thing to do.

    Study period, followed by implementation.

    I am sure they’ll be some more political theater this year, which is unfortunate, but we’ll get through it fine.

    Since Bunny liked my humor some months back re: similar — I saw this last week: “The culture wars are over. Culture won.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    So, what you are telling me is publicly expressing one’s personal opinion, in uniform, in one’s official capacity, is permissible as long as that opinion is “correct”, but publicly expressing a personal opinion, in uniform, in one’s official capacity is not permissible if that opinion is not “correct”.

    Dictatorships are born of such reasoning.

    If Admiral Mullen has the privilege, then others do as well. LTG Mixon’s actions and comments were no more or less appropriate than Admiral Mullen’s. CJCS would do well to acknowledge that.

  • Jay

    URR,

    Always with the jump to absurdity…dictatorship? Please…

    Any Flag or General Officer knows that if/when they have a problem carrying out a policy or order that POTUS & SECDEF have both indicated is coming, they should use the chain of command to express their views, concerns, support, or disagreement. That is proper, and I would expect that MGEN Mixon has already exercised it.

    Using an outside public forum, however, is not proper.

    You don’t like this change, and you’ll continue to argue against it, and support those who disagree as well.

    However — I expect that when the final order comes down, you’ll do what we Officers should and will do, which is carry it out to the best of our ability.

    If your patriotism and sense of duty really hinges on this single issue, then search your conscience, and if you can’t carry it out, your remaining option is, of course, to resign your commission or retire.

    I expect we’ll see a few folks depart over this, which is sad, but overall, I don’t think it will be a large number.

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com XBradTC

    I have no problem with MG Mixon expressing his personal opinion in a public forum. But again, he advocated for HIS SUBORDINATES to lobby elected officials.

    What’s next, tell ‘em to write their congressman and make sure they fund the EFV and a multi-year SuperHornet buy?

    There’s a reason this article sticks out so much. Because it is never done. Why is it never done? Because it is wrong.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    When one set of opinions is permissible to be expressed, when another is forbidden, what else do you call it?

    Brad,

    This is NOT an issue of funding for the EFV or the Super Hornet. It is a political, and to many, a moral issue.

    I did not say it was advisable for LTG Mixon to write that letter to the S&S.

    What I did say was that, since Admiral Mullen publicly expressed his personal opinion on a political matter while in uniform and in an official capacity, he is hypocritical to criticize LTG Mixon for doing the same thing. And it is PRECISELY the same thing.

    If LTG Mixon’s article was “wrong”, it was no more wrong than the actions of Admiral Mullen. If you are trying to tell me otherwise, be careful. You will have to explain carefully why leadership by example is not important. Don’t think you can.

  • Jay

    URR — still absurd.

    You jump to a “forbidden opinion” — where did you get that?

    It isn’t that MGEN Mixon has an opinion (that you agree with, and I disagree with), it is the manner in which he chose to express it.

    There is a difference between being asked — in Congressional testimony — for your professional and personal opinion, and answering the question, and writing to a paper (I suspect unsolicited) — and as Brad mentions — exhorting others to political action.

    Perhaps this needs to be covered in more detail in the Capstone seminar…

    I concur with GEN Mattis’ recent comments on General/Flag Officers and politics: “For our most senior officers, active and retired, awareness that nothing is more important than that they be apolitical in General Marshall’s mold. . . . We need a senior officer corps that returns to its apolitical roots, no matter how vexing it is to remain silent on issues once retired. We are military officers and we have no politics!”

    I do look forward to you writing about this issue in the future, in a historical context, after the emotions have cooled (some of your historical posts are outstanding), and while I dont’ expect you to say “I was wrong” right away, perhaps someday you will.

  • navymic

    ALCON,
    Where do you get the idea that these opinions are personal?
    They deal directly with the Armed Forces. They are professional opinions. Even if they use the word ‘I’ or only pertain to one individual, they are not ‘personal’. Asking Adm Mullen about his something not in his lane, maybe immigration or who will win the next Dancing with the Stars, would result in a ‘personal’ opinion.

    ADM Mullen stated that, in his professional opinion, DADT should be repealed. Gen Mixon stated, in his professional opinion, that he thought the opposite.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    navymic,

    Actually, both men made clear they were expressing personal opinions.

    Jay,

    What Mullen and Mixon did were precisely the same thing. Expressed personal opinions publicly regarding a political matter, while in uniform, in an official capacity. One is hailed for it, the other, “admonished”.

    Neither should have done so. But BOTH did. My point is that for Mullen to come down on LTG Mixon like a ton of bricks is hypocrisy. Plain and simple.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    I will agree though, that such coverage in the GOFO seminar to get them closer to Mattis’ ideal. However, once retired, those men and women have every right to expression, political or otherwise, within their bounds of retirement under Title 10, as anyone else.

    When the dust settles, will those who declared putting women at sea would cause problems (as it has) admit they were wrong? They shouldn’t, as many of their predictions were borne out.

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com XBradTC

    Actually, both men made clear they were expressing personal opinions.

    When the Chairman of the JCS expresses his personal opinion, it has the same impact as saying it is his professional opinion. It may not have the unified backing of the JCS, but it will certainly be taken as high level support for the repeal of DADT. That’s an awfully thin fig leaf you’re hiding behind.

    And it appears some folks don’t understand the distinction between what ADM Mullen and MG Mixon did.

    ADM Mullen certainly had the right, and the moral obligation to tell how he felt about the policy. MG Mixon was certainly within his rights to say he did not support its repeal.

    But MG Mixon urged his subordinates to write elected officials to sway their votes on this policy. Had ADM Mullen likewise urged servicemembers to write to their representatives to influence their votes, I’d similarly be condemning him.

    I don’t support the repeal of DADT. I think it would cause more problems than it would solve. But I sure as hell don’t need ANYONE in my chain of command telling me what I should do about it, outside of following the current policy and regulations.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Brad,

    We will have to agree to disagree regarding the actions of Mullen and Mixon. Admiral Mullen had no right and certainly no obligation to espouse his personal beliefs regarding a matter of political policy. In fact, his personal opinion was not directly solicited. Had it been, he should have declined to answer. It was no more appropriate than if he had given his personal beliefs regarding his faith in testimony regarding an issue with Chaplaincy in the Armed Forces.

    What LTG Mixon did was not advisable, but it is NO DIFFERENT from the actions of Admiral Mullen. I mentioned at the time of the CJCS remarks that they were inappropriate to make while in uniform in a public forum. He might have testified that he did not think repeal of DADT would affect combat readiness or morale or recruiting, and then any disagreement would have been over professional issues. While in a public forum and in uniform, Admiral Mullen’s personal views and opinions on a political issue should carry no more weight than those of LTG Mixon, or you, or me.

    Neither should have expressed personal opinions, but BOTH did. Admiral Mullen’s rebuke of LTG Mixon is dripping with hypocrisy, because of his own actions.

  • Jay

    URR,

    It was different, even if you USE ALL CAPS.

    Cheers,
    J

  • UltimaRatioReg

    No Jay, it isn’t.

    Let’s try this game.

    What if, after the President’s speech, the CJCS had said “For me, personally, I find homosexuality physically and morally repugnant. It comes down to morality.”

    And then LTG Mixon had written to S&S to encourage service members to write to their elected reps urging repeal.

    Would the conversations here and elsewhere be the same? Would CJCS be lauded for his “courage”? Would LTG Mixon be so heavily criticized? Not a chance.

    Your line of reasoning is like a father, full ash tray in front of him, cigarette hanging from his mouth, scolding his 17-year old for smoking.

    “Why can’t I? YOU’RE smoking!”

    “That’s different!”

    Very effective.

  • Jay

    URR,

    It appears that you are letting your personal beliefs cloud your judgement.

    Shame, that.

  • Mike

    This matter is simple. Admiral Mullen is the President’s senior military representative and speaks on behalf of the US military in matters of military policy. Perhaps he should have omitted the word “personal” (all opinions personal after all); but it is his duty to state his position on military policy matters. He was acting appropriately to state this particular position to Congress. LTG Mixon, on the other hand, is not in the position of advising Congress, the Secretary of Defense, or the President on military policy matters of this nature. His open, public letter is in defiance of the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff’s official testimony and the clear intentions of the President. He is within his rights to make his opinions known to leaders privately, but to do so in the manner in which he did is insubordinate. He should be retired, immediately.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Quite the contrary, Jay.

    Had Admiral Mullen’s personal beliefs been at odds with the President’s remarks, he would have been admonished for expressing them. But since Mullen’s personal opinions were “acceptable”, few are commenting on their appropriateness.

    Personal beliefs are clouding the issue, all right. CJCS should not have expressed his personal opinion on the issue, and should have declined to answer if solicited, which they were not.

    Unless you believe that CJCS should be appointed only if his personal and political beliefs are aligned with the President….

  • Jay

    Mike — I don’t think MGEN Nixon’s inappropriate actions should result in forced retirement. As I said — there will certainly be more political theater on this. While nothing to boast about, he now serves as a textbook example of “what not to do”.

    Minor footnote (if at all) in history…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Perhaps he should have omitted the word “personal” (all opinions personal after all); but it is his duty to state his position on military policy matters.”

    Sorry Mike. When he expressed those personal opinions, and in doing so challenged the integrity of others whose personal opinions might differ, he was NOT acting appropriately.

    If you retire Mixon, you retire Mullen. What’s good for the goose is indeed good for the gander.

  • Jay

    URR –

    Ahhhhhhhh….so this is it: “Sorry Mike. When he expressed those personal opinions, and in doing so challenged the integrity of others whose personal opinions might differ, he was NOT acting appropriately.”

    So, your integrity is challenged?

    Now I understand why you won’t (not can’t…just won’t) see the difference…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    Read Mullen’s words. He challenged the integrity of ANYONE who might personally disagree with him. No, I do not see the difference, other than people saying “that’s different!” between the actions of CJCS and LTG Mixon. Neither were appropriate.

    Also, read the testimony of CJCS. His personal opinions were not solicited. He offered them, as his personal opinions. Not professional opinions, but personal opinions.

    And the question remains. If he has the right to do that, how is it that others don’t?

    Do as I say, not as I do. Piss-poor leadership. Plain and simple.

  • RickWilmes

    I have a couple of questions for URR.

    What is the difference between a personal and a professional opinion?

    Have you considered Mullins testimony and compared it to former CJCS Pace’s view on this issue?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick,

    Thought you’d never ask.

    A man can personally hold a professional opinion. But the opinion is regarding professional and not personal or political matters. A man’s personal beliefs are just that. Those beliefs, such as religion, politics, etc., should carry no rank. Which is why Admiral Mullen’s statement is no more appropriate than that of LTG Mixon.

    Had Admiral Mullen said “I don’t think repeal of DDT will change things one iota”, you could disagree with him professionally, but that analysis is precisely why he is in the uniform.

    But to tell us that he personally thinks it is the right thing to do, and then defines his opinion in terms of an issue of integrity, he is in essence questioning the integrity of any one who might disagree with his personally held views. BIG no-no.

    The Admiral’s personal beliefs on this are no more appropriate for public announcement than what he might believe regarding legalizing marijuana usage, should that become the next political topic.

    What is the difference between Admiral Mullen expressing his personal opinion and General Pace expressing his? NOTHING. Neither was appropriate.

    Notice, though, that General Pace was roundly criticized for doing so, and the appropriateness of his expressing those opinions was immediately and strongly questioned. Whereas, because Admiral Mullen’s personal views were more politically palatable to a liberal media and liberal interest groups who shape public opinion, he was hailed as “courageous”.

    Leadership by example. Mullen blew it.

  • Jay

    Or not…

    Come to think of it — I do not recall your post criticizing GEN Pace for same. (However, if I missed it, pls provide the link…)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    I don’t recall General Pace admonishing a junior Officer for the same thing he himself had done. However, if I missed it, please provide the link.

  • Jay

    URR,

    Ok, we’re done here…time to end this before we bore everyone…DOH! Too late…

    I did go find this quote from ADM Mullen’s testimony:

    “No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

    Great Leadership in those lines. I am honored to serve with him.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    Setting the bar a little low for great leadership, aren’t you?

  • Jay

    You tell me, what’s it like down there?

    ;-)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Pretty damned good. Leadership:

    “My personal opinion is that unless we can strip away the — the emotion, the agendas, and the politics. And ask, at least in my case, do we somehow enhance the war fighting capabilities of the United States Marine Corps by allowing homosexuals to openly serve,” Conway said in response to questioning. “And we haven’t addressed it from the correct perspective. And at this point I think that the current policy works.”

    “My best military advice to this committee, to the secretary, and to the president would be to keep the law such as it is,” Conway said.

  • Jay

    Better yet…

    GEN James L. Jones: “I have served my country in uniform since 1967, and in that period, we covered racial questions, racial integration. We’ve covered the integration of women in the armed forces. People suggested that that would be a national security problem if we did both of those things. It turned out to be, as a matter of fact, a force multiplier by doing those things. People — and I grew up in a generation where they said if you integrate members of the gay community, that will be a national security problem. That will probably prove itself to be false as well.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, active duty Marine Commandant General Conway wants careful study of the issue from a readiness and combat effectiveness standpoint, but retired Commandant General Jones (a political appointee) is touting the political party line that says gays in the military will be no problem and intimates that such study is not necessary?

    Gee. Which one is more willing to speak plainly, even if it does not echo the political tide?

  • Jay

    Both.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Right. So you interested in that bridge?

  • Jay

    Yes, the bridge to the future…

    :-)

  • Kenneth A. Griffin

    I just signed up for this blog and as a old timer I hope I do not get lost in this high tech messaging.
    No one has sent a message on this subject for a while but I do not see why everyone is looking at the negative side of the don’t ask don’t tell rules. I have heard one person say that as long as the person does not act on his impulses he should be allowed to serve openly.
    So if those who are attracted by the members of the same sex can live in the same bunking compartment and use the same head why can not member of the opposite sex. As long as they do not act on their impulses we can save a lot of money on all the changes made to the ships and now sub’s to house the women.
    In a few day’s I will turn 62 but if my change is made maybe I will try and get back in.

  • http://www.militarymedalsguide.com/ Grunt4Life

    I applaud General Mixon for stating his opinion. I also think it is appropriate for him to suggest that military folks let their elected representatives what their opinions are on issues, especially those facing the military.

    I think we often go too far in conceding our right to express our opinions on matters since we’re in the military. I think that more servicemen should let their elected officials know their thoughts – otherwise you get what we always get – politically correct generals and flag officers telling politicians what they want to hear….”the troops don’t mind serving with homosexuals, Mr. President”..and other worn out statements that uniformed politicians (aka as our senior leaders) have made to politicians to curry favor in the hopes of a post-military career.

    I respect General Conway for stating that if ordered to end Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, he will ask for funding to build barracks for declared homosexuals. When they heard this, the gay legions went wild with criticism of Conway. You see, they don’t merely seek equal opportunities for gays, they wish to IMPOSE their presence, lifestyle, etc., on anyone, regardless of what others might prefer.

    Does a heterosexual 19 year old Marine have a right to choose not to have a homosexual roommate in a two person BEQ room? I think so! But apparently the gay rights zealots do not.

    I remind readers that past empires and great nation-states, made formidable early on by military prowess and might, were lost once the slack morals and values of the general civilian populace were inflicted on their armies.

    In other words, once America’s great armed forces no longer have ideals, morals, character and integrity at levels beyond that associated with average citizens, our nation will be at peril of being incapable of protecting itself from stronger nations or alliances of nations determined to bring an end to America and all that it represented in the past.

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