Disappointment. That is a very good word to use. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey applied it recently. It seems the General, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior Officer in our Armed Forces, is “disappointed” that former service members have strongly expressed opinions regarding the conduct of Administration officials, including the President.

“If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I am disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said in an interview with Fox News while flying back from a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. “Is it useful? No, it’s not useful. It’s not useful to me.”

He further commented:

“People don’t want us to be another special interest group.”

Those are curious words coming from General Dempsey. For several reasons. The events of the last three-plus years, including the words and actions of senior Officers in the Armed Forces, have put paid to the idea of a non-political military. The incessant pushing of “diversity” and identity politics, the immediate and unconditional collapsing to the desires of special interest groups, public proclamations of personally-held beliefs as directive moral standards, all have eroded the concept of detached and apolitical military leadership.

  •  The massacre at Fort Hood, perpetrated by a known radical Muslim jihadist whom the US Army managed to promote to field grade (for fear of not doing so?) who shouted “Allahu Akbar!” time and again as he murdered 13 and wounded 45, was followed immediately by the statement from Army Chief of Staff Casey that it would be tragic if “diversity was a casualty” of the murders.
  • Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen offering his unsolicited personal views, and then declaring anyone in disagreement to lack “integrity”. Followed by his severe criticism for LtGen Mixon for encouraging Soldiers to express their own opinions, albeit privately, to their elected officials, which is their right to do. Further assertion was that anyone who disagreed with the policy should “vote with their feet” and leave the service.
  • General Stanley McChrystal’s revelation as to which political candidate he voted for in 2008, among comments that led to his relief, went largely uncriticized, though the impropriety of such a remark was serious enough to elicit comment, and likely would have, had his political choice been otherwise.
  • The recent active push for women in the infantry, as Marine Captain Kate Petronio so accurately observed, not because of any remote belief that such a policy will increase war fighting capability, but is instead “being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS)”. Political special interests, nothing more, to which the senior leadership has largely answered “three bags full”.
  • The recent appearance of uniformed military personnel at Gay Pride parades was authorized and encouraged by the Office of Secretary of Defense, with the preposterous (that is to say, knowingly untrue) assertions that the Gay Pride parade was not a political event, and the exception would somehow be “one time only”. DASD Bardorf’s statements are an out-and-out fabrication and in direct violation of the DoD Directive on the wearing of the uniform (1334.1).

Now, we have General Martin Dempsey expressing his “disappointment” with a group of Veterans who have served their country honorably and with distinction, exercising their First Amendment rights through expressing views of political opposition.

Perhaps General Dempsey can show us the legal precedent which limits the First Amendment rights of Veterans once they have left the Armed Forces to expressing only those views and opinions and those occasions that General Dempsey finds “useful”.

While he is at it, he can provide the citation in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or ANY Federal statute in US Code, that prohibits Veterans from entering and participating in the political process.

The exercising of the rights safeguarded by our Constitution should NEVER, EVER be a cause for criticism from an active duty service member, let alone the senior Officer in our Armed Forces, who has done so in his official capacity, in that very uniform he calls so strongly to be “apolitical”.

That Constitution is the very document and safeguard which Veterans have all sworn their lives to support and defend. General Dempsey’s “disappointment” is nothing compared with the disappointment and disgust of many thousands who read his egregiously misguided comments. He is also sworn to support and defend that Constitution, not to help load it into the shredder, starting with the Bill of Rights.

No, the Armed Forces should not be a special interest group. But neither should they be willing toys of those special interest groups. There is little chance that they will be the former, but abundant evidence that they have become the latter. Senior Officers have been quite complicit in that. You want to look somewhere to end the “politics in uniform”, General Dempsey? Put your own house in order, and keep your mouth shut regarding Veterans exercising their First Amendment rights.

It is your job. Get it done. Or get gone.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, From our Archive, History, Marine Corps, Navy

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  • Well said, sir! Truth is, Dempsey is more politician than military man, and his remarks reveal as much.

  • Fouled Anchor

    URR, much more eloquently stated than my thoughts have been since I read his statement. The words that came to my mind were a little, ummm, Old Navy.

    For General Dempsey to have interjected himself into the conversation violates the premise of his own argument. If he was speaking about active duty military personnel, that’s his place and he might be right (in spite of the cases you pointed out that indicate it’s only acceptable when speaking in support of the administration). When speaking about former and/or retired military personnel and other former/retired government employees (as is the case here), on either side of the argument, Dempsey’s comments were out of line and unjustified, not to mention misguided.


  • Matt

    I believe this is what is meant by the “Chicago Way”. The Boss isn’t happy. He can do whatever he wants of course but you are expected to “zip it” even after service.

  • Mittleschmerz

    “keep your mouth shut regarding Veterans exercising their First Amendment rights”

    A little cognitive dissonance perhaps?

    Look back at what Dempsey said – the actual words. How can you fault those words?

    He’s said things like this on more than on occasion – this one gets the press because they “cause” of the criticized is popular among the right wing blogging and campaigning set.

    Sure, all those items you name are accurate and correct. But laying them at Dempsey’s feet is wrong.

    If you want to criticize Dempsey, yes, the way to is “when the rest of the admirals and generals stay out of politics, they shall set the example” but one should also ask the Chairman “what about”

    Veterans for Romney
    Veterans for Ron Paul
    Veterans for Obama
    Veterans against Mitt Romney

    Give the man a chance. Telling him to “shut up”? That’s not giving him a chance, that’s just plain rude.

  • G-man

    Agree that the rhetoric needs to be less bellicose and more “refined”. As military we should be able to disagree professionally and politely. But the General states “if someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics …”. But the groups involved are not using “the uniform” – they are retired or honorably separated veterans. And the wearing of the uniform for 2 to 32 years does not abrogate one’s Constitutional right of free speech or dissent. Remember that phrase “against all enemies foreign and domestic”? Well these disagreers are not domestic threats. I find it interesting that he would comment on methods but not their dissenting motives – i.e. the release of sensitive information for political gain that could potentially compromise sources and result in fatalities. Now THAT seriously erodes “that bond of trust” he speaks about.

  • Robert_K

    USNI has sunk to a new low with this post – devolving into a forum where a LtCol can tell the nation’s most senior military officer to shut his mouth on any topic. It’s not acceptable in print nor in any forum sponsored by the Institute.

    As the USNI Blog charter states ,” The goal is a thoughtful, authoritative analysis about the Sea Services, with Guest Bloggers who are willing to respectfully state and defend their opinions and participants ready to offer additional commentary.”

    I understand the “Howard Stern” shock factor of the URR but it’s time for Admiral Daly to provide a little adult supervision on the blog.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Free speech over at Sal’s place. See ya there.

    – Kyon

  • Matt

    Its actually a pretty common phenomenon to blame the whistleblowers. Especially within the military.

    URR is no Howard Stern. That is “Howard Stern” to say though.

    Military professionals need to have thick skin. Who is really going to be in the position to be a whistleblower in such circumstances but the military professionals affected? I mean give me a break. Are we going to rely on the enemy to tell us what we are doing wrong? “Yea, thanks for those TTPs but you need to stop doing that. Its helping us too much.”

  • Scott Hanson

    It may not be politically correct, But political correctness is what’s killing our military, and the country.

    And it does not alter the FACT one bit that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has no business telling Veterans what they can or cannot say in exercising their rights of free speech. It is correct that he should keep his mouth shut regarding Veterans exercising their First Amendment rights. Dempsey is being a hypocrite in that by speaking as he is, He is violating the very thing he is speaking out against. For he IS being political and he IS active duty, not Retired/Veteran.

    I was working a job site and some ex-Con convicted felon of a day laborer tells me, a Veteran, that I was “un-American” for being critical of Obama and his socialist policies. He was escorted off the job site AFTER he got done picking his teeth up outta the dirt. That’s how “politically correct” I am.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Lemme get this straight, your complaint is that the senior Officer in the US military can criticize the free expression of a private citizen, but a private citizen cannot question the appropriateness of an Officer on the active list in doing so, because he is a reserve LtCol?

    MI: “Rude”? “Give the man a chance”? Sorry. The Chairman’s words and their intent can be faulted in the extreme. He is an active duty Officer who made those statements in uniform. If he had opinions on the matter, he should have kept them to himself. He didn’t. He either shot his mouth off knowing better, or didn’t know better when he shot his mouth off. Neither is acceptable for the CJCS. Especially in light of the politicizing of senior Officers of late.

    “No comment” may not sound sexy, but sometimes it is a really good thing to answer a question with.

  • virgil xenophon

    As I’ve said here before regarding URR’s musings on this and related topics: “URR speak Heap Big Medicine.”
    The current command structure of every branch of the armed forces of this country is so shot through with politics and left-wing special interest pleadings/causes that it makes the political officers of the old SU look like disciples of Barry Goldwater. The fish rots from the head down..

  • Mittleschmerz

    So…a reserve O5 tells an active duty O10 to “shut [his] mouth” and that’s not “rude”?

    URR – as with most things, it’s not the facts you choose to cherry pick, or the opinions you press forward as fact. It’s the utterly and overly abrasive manner in which you deliver your invective that just kills your argument.


    The manner in which you made this post was beneath you, improper for a Marine, much less a Marine Officer.

    But, it was your right.

    Of course, if you were on active duty then you’d be facing a charge of violation of Article 89.

    There are questions that can and should be asked here, but the way you did it went over the line and will end up in those who might have been able to ask those questions deciding to be quiet instead.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, a private citizen advises an active duty Officer to keep his mouth shut regarding commenting on Veterans’ legal exercise of their First Amendment rights. Rude? Prudent.

    Your opinion of what you consider improper is a strange one, and I don’t give it much merit. I find it to be largely based on what you disagree with, and little more.

    Ask General Dempsey about Veterans for Obama? Veterans for Romney? I don’t care if it is Veterans for Pat Paulson. It is highly improper for the General to comment about any of it. And he damned sure should know it. His actions would have gotten him a stern talking-to (or should have) if he were a First Lieutenant Company Commander.

    If I were on active duty? I’m NOT, he IS. Perhaps a charge of 134 for the General? Over the line? He sure was.

  • Cap.n Bill

    We have here a perfect example of getting one’s knickers in an uproar. First Lesson to be learned falls on the CJCS: Don’t give interviews when tired and underway—even in a big airplane.

    Second Lesson: Permit this blog to seek its own level without undue guidance of folk who are by experience are well tuned to the music of the moment.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Cap’n Bill,

    I think if General Dempsey had to do it over again, he would not have made those comments. He did avoid saying whether or not he agreed with the criticism the Veterans’ group has leveled.

    I don’t wanna know. Nor, do I want an Officer on the active list weighing in about the Free Speech rights of private citizens who are Veterans.

  • Byron

    This professional civilian believes that anyone who raised their right hand to serve this nations military has more than earned the right to speak his mind once he/she leaves the service of our nation. More to the point, they have done far more than myself to earn the First Ammendments protection to speak their minds.

    Robert K: As the senior uniformed officer of the military, the CJCS should be very aware of the constitutional rights of his former brothers and sisters at arms. He should have kept his mouth shut. If he had we and others like us wouldn’t have a lot to talk about, would we?

  • Quartermaster

    I agree with VX here. URR speaks heap big medicine!

    We’ve watched the military become seriously politicized during Zer0’s malpractice, and Dempsey is just another facet of it. Mullen’s and Harvey’s political incompetence is a part as well.

    URR is well within his rights to make the statements he has made on the matter. If I were his forward observer my call would be “Target!”

  • MI – Aren’t we supposed to be discussing the proposition put forth? Not attacking the messenger. Suggesting that URR has violated some rule in writing this post is nonsense. We all know URR is uncapable of coloring outside the lines, much less violating UCMJ! LOL!

    I don’t care if General Dempsey was tired, he is still responsible for what he said. We’re darn lucky he was just spouting off about this instead of something that lives depended on, huh?

  • Mittleschmerz

    Maggie – Dempsey expressed his opinion – as did URR.

    I am no more guilty of “attacking the messenger” than URR is.

    URR’s message is wrong. It was disrespectful. And hiding behind the “private citizen” thing? Well, if I called it what I think it is it’d just get everybody all angry.

    I stand by what I have written. This post is beneath what a Marine Officer should be writing. Period.

  • Jay

    URR – wow, even for you. USNI blog – really?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Perhaps you should study up on who is subject to the UCMJ and when. Like reservists and retirees. Then maybe the absurdity of equating my comments here to Dempsey’s public statements will become clear. And I am not hiding behind anything, especially not rank.

    If you are asserting that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the freedom to publicly criticize political commentary while in the official execution of his duties (wearing his uniform), I cannot tell you how misguided you are.

    Waxing authoritative about Marine Officers is also not your strong suit. You never have been one, and never will be.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay, very cogent commentary. If I wrote that water was wet, you would claim the statement was outrageous.

  • virgil xenophon


    If the “big kids” hadn’t highly politicized in recent years (as URR spotlights) what previously
    had been an apolitical officer cadre, we wouldn’t be here now, would we? Lets not kid the troops. We’re all each over the age of 12 and have an IQ at least marginally in double digits, because, TRUST ME, you’re fooling NO ONE by whistling past the grave-yard in pretending ignorance of what has happened in recent years. In fact it takes an Ostrich, NOT a sentient human being to ignore it. It takes a Lake Superior-sized vessel full of unmitigated gall to say with a straight face that the entire National Command structure is NOT highly politicized these days. Ad by this I mean WAY beyond the normal (if such can be said historically speaking) warp & woof of promotional and doctrinal political jockeying. As one who has a 1st cousin who reached O-9 and retired as Vice Cmdr of PACAF, I think I have a nodding acquaintance–if only second hand–with the palace politics of service life besides that of my own short stint. TRUST me, what we are witnessing before our very eyes is the transformation of the leadership of the Armed Services into overt political animals who for their own various reasons have found it convenient to worship at the alter of multi-culti left-wing political correctness and diversity politics in the most brazen fashion. This creates GREAT cynicism among both the JO and enlisted ranks as they witness the development of a parallel shadow promotion& assignment system having little or nothing to do with merit and performance, but rather see favored groups forced upon the system into positions of responsibility in what can only be called a de facto quota system. No administrative/operational system of ANY organizational kind is perfect or utterly immune to or totally free from the winds of the greater political world. But at least the command structure used to pay lip-service at the very the concept of meritocracy, competence, and war-fighting as the primary organizational focus. Present day leadership, imo, has largely abandoned even the pretense of neutrality in the larger civilian ideological political wars and have quite openly “taken sides” in society’s kulturkampf. What could possibly EVEN go wrong? Remember, silence = approval. Those of us who feel that the “big kids” have collectively seriously lost their way and that they, themselves in their openly ideological pronouncements and organizational policies pose a serious threat to our national security and the existence of the Republic. If certain people don’t like our answers they shouldn’t ask questions. We feel it our solemn duty to provide a clarion call that things are going wrong. We will NOT be silenced!

  • The Usual Suspect

    I can see where Mittleschmerz might find URR’s telling the CJCS to shut his trap a bit rude, but you cannot argue with the basic fact that the CJCS was completely out of line. Had he been a JO, he most certainly would have been taken to the woodshed for his comment about the constitutional rights of retirees and veterans. This is not the old Soviet Union (yet) where the State owns you and tells you what to think and say.
    ‘If someone uses the uniform … for partisan politics, I’m disappointed by that,’ Dempsey said. Dempsey must be pretty disappointed in himself right now as Mullen should be, too.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    My Dad never got into politics because he said it wasn’t worth it.

    Yeah, Dad was right.

  • Byron

    Lucien, when you leave the service do you reserve the right to speak your mind on any subject, including being critical of political office holders? That is is the subject here.

  • W.M. Truesdell

    I have found that when the troops complain about what you are doing, it is best to listen, not tell them to shut up.

  • Robert_K


    You completely misinterpreted my comment. My “complaint” was directed towards Admiral Daly not you. Why are the professional standards so low for the USNI bloggers? I just went through Proceedings and not one author had to revert to telling any senior official to keep their mouth shut on a controversial topic. There are ways to argue a point without being disrespectful. USNI blog is an extension of the Institute, so why the lower standards?

    The USNI is full of the top naval thinkers in the country yet a very small percentage actually participate in the USNI blog discussions. Why? Are they not tech savvy enough to figure out how to post a comment or do they not want to dive headfirst into an intellectual cesspool?

    URR, If you want to take me to task, please do. First answer the following:
    Q. Are you a Marine Corps Officer?
    Q. Are you the author of this post?
    Q. In the post did you tell the senior officer in the US military to shut his mouth?

    If you have the honesty to answer these three questions, you’ll clearly see this post doesn’t meet acceptable standards for any “military professional”. You seem to flip-flop between writing as just another concerned citizen and being the saltiest Marine Corps Officer in history, as convenient for you. I have read some of your previous posts and your argumentative skills are well developed. One can only assume that you, with the full support of the USNI staff, included the shut your mouth comment for the sake of creating a buzz on the blog… and it’s working – mission accomplished! But let’s not turn this forum into Craigs List for the sake of the increasing the number of website hits.

  • Steve Konkoly

    What’s truly ridiculous about General Dempsey’s comment is his complete failure to recognize that over 100 veteran’s serve in the House and Senate…on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps they should resign immediately. What could be worse according to Dempsey’s logic?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I have no interest in “taking you to task”, despite your personal comments. With a few exceptions, while in an active duty status and subject to the UCMJ, I am under the same free speech restrictions as General Dempsey should be. When I am not subject to the UCMJ, I have no such restrictions, and am more than free to speak as a private citizen. Whether you like it or not. Which, I believe, is precisely my point to General Dempsey.

  • Peter Swartz

    I am struck by the similarity of the views expressed by Gen Dempsey and the views expressed almost 100 years earlier by ADM Sims, as reprinted in this blog a week or so ago. I thought the Sims article was a fine and thoughtful work, but I thought his desire to stifle public comments by naval officers to be worthy of discussion and debate. Same thing here.
    – Peter

  • RetiredAF

    @Mittleschmerz. You really don’t seem to have the concept of the difference between “Veteran” and Active Duty. For those of us lucky enough to have White House duties in our experience, there is an unwritten law to NEVER disclose privileged information that you gained during active duty. Ralph Albertazzi kind of stepped over that line, as far as I am concerned. What I saw for eight years and parts of three presidencies doesn’t go in a book, it greatly affects my thinking about who is worthy of the highest offices in the country. Yes, I do believe a veteran has better insight about military engagement. (Especially if he has had the joy of being missed while receiving incoming fire) I lament the lack of military veterans in Congress today. The most jaded Viet Nam returnee may be all for peace, but he surely knows the folly of a “politically managed” combat situation. I’m sorry that you feel that only the right wing is incensed by active duty military people using the uniform to further their political agenda. You need to reread a lot of our history of the “citizen soldier” and why we don’t allow our military to run our country as in the Third world, Old Soviet Union, and the “Peoples’ Army”. Of course the jihadists have an even ‘better’ idea. “Let Allah, as determined by Imams and the Qran control all”. Free speech for anyone is not necessary in the Muslim world.

  • “Cap.n Bill Says:
    … First Lesson to be learned falls on the CJCS: Don’t give interviews when tired and underway—even in a big airplane.”

    So far, that is the nugget of this exchange I find of the most value. It is very hard to do – but it must be done.

    We saw similar issues with General McChrystal, Admiral Fallon and others. Great professionals can, at a moment of weakness, be human. I’m willing to give the CJCS a little slack in this case, barring amplifying comments on his part.

    If senior leaders want an example of how to deal with the press within earshot; benchmark General Mattis’s interaction with the press post-2005.

    As with most things; when in doubt look at what General Mattis has done and where he is going … and do that and go there.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    If this is indeed a case of a tired General coughing up the football in an exchange with the press, then he does deserve slack, albeit with a warning. If so, he would have been very well served by an aide standing behind the press interviewer frantically giving the General the “cut” sign.

    The concern is that General Dempsey’s remarks reflect a growing and mistaken belief that it is appropriate for active duty Officers to speak authoritatively on socio-political matters, and be directive when doing so. Coupled with other recent instances (Mullen, Chiarelli, Cartwright) of exceeding of authority and propriety, it is a potentially dangerous trend.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Let me fix that for you…”The concern is that URR’s remarks reflect a growing and mistaken belief that it is appropriate for reserve duty Officers to speak authoritatively on socio-political matters, and be directive when doing so.”

    But, I know…you are right, you are always right.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Thanks for the correction. I assume you have made the required changes to US Code and to the UCMJ to appropriately curtail my free speech rights, while enhancing your own?

  • M. Ittleschmerz

    Enhance my own? How, pray tell, could you pull that out of my sarcastic riposte?

    Reread what Dempsey said.

    What is “directive” in there?

    Then reread what you wrote. Pretty directive.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    The initial post (way up there) had some good points, but I absolutely agree with Robert_K and Mittleschmerz here.

    When we feel that those in leadership positions are wrong, or believe that elected (and appointed) officials are off-base, we should–we must–talk or write about our position. But treating others with blatant disrespect and acting like anyone who disagrees with us is stupid/moronic/substitute-any-insult-here cancels out anything important we might actually say. Just why so many hate watching MSNBC, Fox, CNN, etc–the painting of anyone who disagrees in idiot colors hides/ignores the real argument that should be made. Same with so many internet sources.

    We must be better than that, and if we’re not, no one will listen.

  • virgil xenophon

    One of the several reasons that the senior leadership of the armed forces jumped at the chance to transform the military into an all-volunteer force was that it would increase discipline (“Hey, don’t bitch–you volunteered, remember?”) and also not subject its esoteric ways to the prying/fresh eyes of draftees who may be highly unsympathetic to established routines and not be shy in suggesting improved ways of doing things (“we’ve been delivering toilet paper this way to the fleet since the time of John Paul Jones and now you’re suggesting…? The H you say! Don’t tell us how to…!”)
    Shorter version: The Big Kids don’t like criticism..

    (Which was ok as long as they kept their mouths equally shut and
    tried not to ram cultural change down the throats of the rank & file–now all bets are off..)

  • Al Buckelew

    I retired from the military in 1972. I went where ordered, performed my duties, and kept my politics to myself. After retirement, I believed it my duty as a patriot to vote in every election and actively participate in backing candidates who believe in the Constitution of our founding fathers.
    I contributed to OPSEC and agree that persons privy to classified information who disclose such information to unauthorized persons should be prosecuted. I do not expect this to happen under the current administration or its Departmnet of Justice.
    I am no longer in the active military but a private taxpaying citizen who expressed my opinion by supporting OPSEC.
    General Dempsey has a right to his opinion however wrong I believe him to be. However, his logic escapes me.

  • virgil xenophon

    “However his logic escapes me”

    You noticed..

  • UltimaRatioReg

    M. Ittleschmerz and Jeanette,

    Please kindly provide any law, ordinance, regulation, order, or policy which prohibits me, when not subject to the UCMJ, from expressing my opinion as a private citizen regarding the impropriety of remarks made by an active Officer criticizing the First Amendment rights of other private citizens.

    If you cannot do so, then your objections are based on your disagreements and little else. None of my comments disparaged the General, nor questioned his character or qualifications for his duties. I did advise he keep his mouth shut instead of commenting officially on the lawful political expression of private citizens. Advice that would have stood him in good stead had someone provided it previously.

  • virgil xenphon

    Diplomat-speak: “…refrain from commenting…”

    USMC-speak: “…keep his mouth shut…”

  • Mittleschmerz

    OMG! Seriously?


    Look Marine – in my opinion a set of professional ethics trumps law. No one has said that what you did here was illegal, or against the UCMJ. The one time I hinted at it the commentary was “IF you were on active duty” (read that again for better retention – “IF”).

    The plain fact is that the way you made your argument is inappropriate. Not illegal, or unlawful. Inappropriate.

    The language you used towards the General was disrespectful. Not illegal, not unlawful. Disrespectful.

    Would you have used the same language and tone if you were in the same room as General Dempsey? In a hangar for a Commander’s Call and asking questions of the Chairman?

    Probably not.

    So why use that tone here?

    Stop hiding behind the “there’s nothing illegal about it”. That’s also beneath a commissioned officer.

    You ruined the discourse on this subject by making the attack. You let your own politics blind you to the overall discussion. And, because of how you made this attack, and you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that you overplayed the hammer on this one, you made the discussion about your post and not about the potential issues at hand.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, it is your opinion that limits my free speech.

    Ethics? Like disparaging the free speech of private citizens as an active Officer?

    Were I in the same room with the General in a uniform and duty status, I would assuredly show proper deference and respect. In fact, the subject would be entirely off limits unless my opinion was specifically solicited.

    Were I to engage the General as a private citizen, in a coat and tie, I would use precisely those words, or words to that effect. And I have a feeling the General would be far less offended than you seem to be.

    Stop hiding behind your opinions to tell me which rights I have as a private citizen. It is beneath an active Officer.

  • virgil xenphon

    To expand upon the role of the Chairman, JCS, I have read elsewhere (can’t recall where, such is the nature of the blogosphere) that since the advent of Colin Powell as Chairman, the traditional role of the Chairman has been reversed. Traditionally, the Chairman, JCS was the armed services’ representative to the President; beginning with Powell, however, and ever since to date, the Chairman has tended to act as the representative of the President to the JCS, it is argued. If one buys this argument, it goes a long way to explain the increasingly politicized public statements of recent Chairman, JCS and reflects a profound change in the tenor of the workings of the armed services within the framework of civilian control, i.e., to increasingly politicize the entire force by dint of the tone set by the Chairman acting as the Presidents personal unmodulated megaphone..

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Very interesting observation. I wrote a post back last October about the 25th Anniv of Goldwater-Nichols, (and realized that I was one of very few still in uniform whose service predates it) and was hoping for much more comment on that particular point.


  • virgil xenphon


    You might want to read a 1964 book by Professor John C. Ries entitled: “The Management of Defense: Organization and Control of the U.S. Armed Services.” in which he argues that the (Pre-Goldwater–God knows what he would have said about post-Goldwater as he is deceased) JCS system itself is largely dysfunctional and that we would be much better served if it had never been created and had stuck with the organizational form as it existed and successfully operated in WW II. In short, he argues that the entire JCS system is an inefficient, needlessly multi-layered, stilted, highly dysfunctional organizational failure in terms of both operational efficiencies and effectiveness brought on by continuous misguided efforts to concentrate power at the top. Quoting 1st SECDEF Forrestall (a sop to the NAVY which opposed the JCS system) as Sec of the Navy at post-war hearings on the subject when he was shown the MacArthur quote (all from memory, here) that “our experience in WWII proved the need for a General-Staff type organization” he dryly replied: “I assume he meant the form of organization that we currently have; surely the General does not propose that the war was won by a form of organization which has never existed.” LOL. Go seek the work out if you already haven’t read it–makes for fascinating reading

  • Mittleschmerz

    URR – I didn’t say any of what you want to lay at my feet.

    Free speech is not consequence free speech.

    You can say what you want about anything. But if I disagree with what you say, or how you say it, then expect that I will respond.

    You don’t have to like that. In fact, you never like it when someone calls you on either substance or style. But after two years of this, do you think you can bully me into silence?


  • virgil xenphon

    PS: A different, more positive take on the JCS (but also using Ries as source material) may be found in an article in the Winter, 1989 “Airpower Journal” by Dean C. Allard; “Interservice Differences in the United States 1945-1950: A Naval perspective” @ http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj89/win89/allard

  • virgil xenphon

    Don’t know why link didn’t take.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Thanks! Some good afternoon reading!

  • Russell E. Jamison Jr

    VERY WELL DONE SIR! A must read.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Seems General Dempsey insists on running his mouth about things not in his job description.