There is something very wrong going on at the very highest levels of our uniformed leadership, they are not standing up for the honor and reputation of their Sailors, Marines, and our other brothers and sisters in the profession of arms.

This failure goes beyond individual failure; it is a systemic failure negatively impacting everyone from the deckplates, to the Beltway, to the post-active duty unemployment line.

I remain perplexed by the supine masochism displayed over and over in the face of weak-at-best accusations made against the culture, morals, and character of our military in the last year. Though even a cursory examination easily shows either the inaccurate, skewed, or downright malicious warping of data concerning sexual assault, suicide, and PTSD in the military – our leaders have surrendered the field without returning a single shot; accepting the agenda and smears of those who are focused on one thing; bringing down the level of esteem our nation holds the military and veterans in.

This should not be a shock to anyone, we have seen this movie before – and people inside and outside the military have been warning this would happen – again.

We saw it after the Vietnam War like in no other period, and again in a very political form following the glow after DESERT STORM. With the counter-culture reeling from the shock of the military being held once again in high regard, it was no shock that the usual suspects made the most out of the bludgeon we gave them at Tailhook to go after the military culture root and branch.

Let’s go back to something from my homeblog back almost nine years ago;

Right after Vietnam, an entire army of poseurs, fakers, and professional victim pimps began a process of smearing and mal-defining an entire generation of men that served their country with distinction and honor; the Vietnam Generation. The whole “We are creating monsters” theme of the article brought me back to a book that every military professional should read as part of their professional education; Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History, …

Stepping in to a gap created by the that lack of positive action topside inside our lifelines, we have another person coming alongside to offer assistance this summer.

In this case it is Thomas Donnelly in the 16 AUG edition of The Wall Street Journal. He hits all the important points in what is already a fully joined battle for the public’s perception of our military and its culture.

Let’s return tot a topic we discussed on this blog back in FEB13:

There is a growing presumption in the West that war dehumanizes those who experience combat, or, in more extreme expressions, even those who only serve in the military. …there are the supposedly high rates of suicide, post-traumatic stress and sexual aggression, all of which tempt one to regard the military itself as a dehumanizing institution in need of therapeutic intervention.

I outlined in that FEB13 post why people want to smear the military and veterans. Same formula that was used in the past;

If the veteran is a victim; he is to be pitied. If he is to be pitied, then he must be helped by his betters. If he has to be helped by his betters to function in society, then he is not an equally contributing member of society. If he is not an equally contributing member of society, he can be marginalized. If he can be marginalized, he can be dismissed and his input ignored. If he can be marginalized politically and his contribution to public discourse ignored, then he cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas and influence. If he cannot compete, then he has no power.

That is the agenda that we let stand via our silence and passivity.

Donnelly then, in a precise rolling engagement, begins to destroy the first meme; suicide, before moving on to the rest.

… suicides by servicemen and women, which have increased in recent years—but by dozens of deaths, not in the epidemic fashion that news coverage sometimes seems to suggest. … A major study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that factors such as substance abuse, depression, financial and relationship problems accounted for the rise in soldier suicides—in other words, the same factors that influence civilians to take their own lives.

“The findings from this study,” the authors concluded, “are not consistent with the assumption that specific deployment-related characteristics, such as length of deployment, number of deployments, or combat experiences, are directly associated with increased suicide risk.” … another study by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health calculated the military suicide rate at 18.5 per 100,000, just below the civilian rate of 18.8 per 100,000.

The emotion driven compassion trolls may not like the facts, but there they are.

Now, let’s shift fire to the PTSD racket.

Something like a “PTSD industry”—and an accompanying and powerful political lobby—has sprung up over the last decade. … research has confirmed what military commanders have long known: It is possible to identify those who are most prone to stress problems, and that has more to do with nonmilitary issues—again, substance abuse, money and family problems are the culprits—than with the experience of combat or deployment to a war zone.

Compared with other countries, the United States diagnoses PTSD cases at improbably high rates. Recent PTSD rates in the U.S. have reached as high as 30%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. By contrast, only 2% of Danish soldiers deployed to Afghanistan (and, per capita, the Danes have done as much fighting as anyone) are diagnosed with significant PTSD symptoms, according to a study published in December in Psychological Science. One consequence of high rates of PTSD diagnosis is that the treatment is too often conducted outside a military environment. Soldiers are deprived of what traditionally has been the best medicine: talking to other soldiers.

GBR, DNK, EST, CAN, NLD, AUS all fought relatively caveat free with us in AFG, especially DNK. That is a fair comparison. Either we argue that the average American servicemember is less hardy than your average Dane, that the Danes don’t care about their soldiers, or that there is something wrong with our reporting and classification system. I vote for #3.

And now for the latest knob-to-11, gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes topic that has leadership cowering even deeper in the shadows while throwing Sailors wholesale, unarmed, in to the breech – sexual assault;

The recent debate about sexual assault in the military also reflects the notion that there is something fundamentally diseased about the institution itself. … the numbers bandied about to show an epidemic of sexual violence in the U.S. military are questionable. In May, Capt. Lindsay Rodman, a judge advocate stationed at U.S. Marine Headquarters in Arlington, Va., reported on this page, for example, that the number of military sexual assaults frequently cited in Congress and elsewhere are based on a badly distorted interpretation of a Defense Department survey. … Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, wrote recently in the Weekly Standard, “there is no evidence that the military has a higher rate of sexual assault than, say, colleges and universities. Indeed, what paltry evidence there is suggests the opposite.”

The fact that our uniformed leaders would stand-by and let these smears continue without challenge dishonors us all. As reported here in late-Spring – we have to rely on mid-grade and junior officers like Major Lindsay L. Rodman, USMC and 2LT Dan Gomez, USA to step in to the breech while more senior leaders hide in the shadows waiting for the storm of slings and arrows to pass.

Why is this? Did our senior leaders expend their political capital on the Great Sequestration Furlough Panic of 2013? Are these warriors brought up as junior officers to face nuclear war against the Soviet Union, and then as GOFO to lead hundreds of thousands in a decade of war against Islamic terrorism, cowed by career politicians and academic harpies warping numbers in the pursuit of socio-political agendas at the expense of servicemembers’ honor? Are they poorly served by a Staff that either lacks intellectual curiosity or education in simple statistical analysis to properly brief their boss on what is really going on? Are they listening too much to people on their Staff who share the socio-political agenda of those leading the smears?

Could it be what a friend of mine said last Friday when I asked him, “Why?”

Because they are beholden to politicians or they are politicians and they lose their way and think the inside the beltway world is the real world. When was the last time one of our senior uniformed a leaders was on the deck plate or flight line working with actual enlisted? Not the token YN that answers their phone or CS that serves them lunch. For many it has been a long time. How easily we forget.”

Donnelly ends his article center-mass;

By regarding soldiers, sometimes condescendingly, as victims and patients, we are in danger of foisting our own, very civilian and very modern, therapeutic pathologies on people who don’t need them and whose ability to do their jobs—that is, keep us safe—is likely to be diminished.

… and so, the Navy and Marine Corps family waits; it waits for someone in uniform with 3-4 stars to step up to the podium and start with, “Let me tell you about the Navy/Marine Corps I know, and what the facts prove.”

Posted by CDRSalamander in Marine Corps, Navy
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  • CAPT Mongo

    Just absolutely a big” ALPHA MIKE” on this. I despair of seeing our senior “Leadership” actually lead. Then again, I thought Kelso should have thrown down his stars at the Tail hook travesty, so I guess I qualify as a knuckle dragging Neanderthal.

    • Capt Woody Sanford

      Sir, I am not sure what “ALPHA MIKE” stands for, but I assume you approve of the writing. You mentioned Frank Kelso, so I believe the only “travesty” in his case was being forced to retire from the actions of another Navy Community, the AIR people. I was in the Navy Medical Corps for 20 years where we were “willingly forced” to treat (No pun) all communities the same. All service members were equal in our hands, officer, enlisted, dependent, VA, civilian, etc. The Hippocratic Oath functioned well in Military Medicine. I guess you could call our various specialties “communities,” but we all talked to and respected each other.

      All us former Submariners were thrilled when Kelso made CNO, but then crushed when he had to step down.

      Good Luck, Sir, Woody

      • CAPT Mongo


        ALPHA MIKE is ATP I VOL II (Signal Book) for “Direct Hit” in gunnery. I suspect you tube sailors didn’t hear that very much ;-). I admired (and in SIXTH Fleet) worked for Admiral Kelso, but my view would be that when the tail hook witch hunt got completely out of hand (e.g. female Senators holding everyone’s promotion hostage until they got what they thought was the proper revenge) he should have resigned in protest over the injustices being done to the entire officer corps. That’s what they select and pay senior officers for, in my book.

  • Diogenes_of_NJ

    As I have said elsewhere – the Navy has been taken from the “Revolt of the Admirals” to simple revolting admirals.

  • Gundog15

    Unless something has dramatically changed in the Navy I retired from a few years back, something is very wrong with the stories and the numbers being portrayed by the media and accepted by our Flag leadership in regards to sexual assault, PTSD and suicide. One has to wonder what purpose it serves the current political agenda to defame and slander the brave men and women of our armed forces. Does making us out to be sub-human help justify the systematic dismanteling of our national defense?

  • Jeff Gauch

    You hinted on the cause earlier. These GOFO’s are the ones that survived the Tailhook witch-hunt, and didn’t view that as a reason to take their skills and talents someplace where they would be appreciated.

  • UltimaRatioRegis

    Senior leadership in uniform, and in the civilian levels of DoD is lacking in character and courage. Martin Dempsey’s pitiful and deliberately dishonest charade of calling a private citizen to pressure him against lawful free expression to perpetuate the Administration’s falsehood about a spontaneous riot in Benghazi is one of hundreds of other examples of such cowardice.

    Political pliability is the requisite trait for senior leadership these days. Necks are craned to look up at their political benefactors, like so many eager-to-please cocker spaniels, rather than at the service men and women they have been given the honor of leading.

  • Andy

    Today’s uniformed leadership were, 20 years ago, as the Tailhook witch hunt and attempted show trials got underway, about the 10-year mark in their corporate career patterns (I shall refrain to call it their “service” careers) They learned well from Kelso, his minions and the feckless civilians who were the DOD senior cadre. They forget, at their peril, that loyalty, as always, is a two-way process.

    Secondary (collateral?) fallout: The repetition, a generation later, of post-Command CDR’s and LCOL’s who are now retiring as soon as the 20-year point gongs. They’ve had enough. Hearsay alludes to a repeat of a noted phenomenon from the late 90’s: Presidential letters of appreciation being “accidentally left behind” after retirement ceremonies, never to be collected. One can only wonder if the Zampolits are noting who does and does not do this. All part and parcel when you have lost the respect of your subordinates.

  • Jeong Lee

    An interesting and a spirited discussion–all of them valid. But you left out the moral cowardice of James Amos who deliberately obstructed justice in the investigation of a war crime involving Marine snipers urinating on the Taliban corpses last year.

    • LT B

      Obstruct or levy unlawful command influence?

      • Jeong Lee

        Interfering with investigation IS an obstruction of justice, and hence, unlawful command influence.

      • Diogenes_of_NJ

        Do they have the concept of “malicious prosecution” in whatever legal system the PLA ascribes to? I’m sure that you would know.

    • Clarkward

      The moral cowardice was that there was even an investigation. The Taliban are dishonorable enemies that slaughter women and children, and the best they should hope for is to end as a piss-stained corpse with a turd in their mouth.

      • vtbikerider

        I think there should’ve been an investigation as while I agree with your assessment of the Taliban and worse– we are not them. I read a book by James Cobb about a fictional US naval officer. When she had to explain to one of her subordinates why they had to do something a specific way she gave him this reason “Because we’re the good guys…” That’s the difference between us and our enemies– we may not always do what is right, but we sure must try for our sakes and for what we stand for as a nation and as a military.

      • Clarkward

        I misspoke; I am disappointed that there was punishment, not so much an investigation. I respect that you and I disagree over the treatment afforded the dead enemy, but I think that punishing the Marines involved sends a bad message to our troops and will negatively affect their mindset vis-a-vis prosecuting the war. If it’s the public relations front that is worrying, I work with several Pakistani nationals and their take on it is that the large number of civilian deaths as collateral damage from drone strikes has a FAR greater negative impact on the public attitudes towards us (outside the US). Ditto our use of torture. Agree or disagree with it, using it surrendered a large amount of our moral authority worldwide. Followed by the massive surveillance of just about everyone by our government that was recently leaked, and one has to wonder how long we’ll be able to honestly say ‘We’re better than that’.

      • vtbikerider

        Where I think there should’ve been punishment is not with the Marines but with the chain of command. I see that action as a leadership failure to convey what is morally right and morally wrong to do to a dead enemy.

        There’s no argument about both torture and drone strikes– something I can’t wrap my head around (and I hope someone can explain it to me) is I don’t see the fundamental difference between sending a Predator to launch a Hellfire and sending an F-16 to do the same other than the fact the pilot is in the plane. Air space is still being invaded (though much more stealthily than a fighter) by a foreign country. Not that i have any love for the Pakistani’s role in the war but I kind of see their point of view regarding this. Effective– yes. Appropriate? I think history will have to answer that as the US has never been into studying long term consequences of our actions.

      • Jeong Lee

        Amen! I have to say that I fully agree. We DO have to be DIFFERENT!

  • mulliner

    Coming back from war is an adjustment. Looking back over the year after I returned from Vietnam, things were hard. But I was so happy to be back and ready to get on with life and I had discipline the Army had given me.