No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

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Ralph
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No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:34 am

This editorial has it right.

When I was an Army officer in Korea and Vietnam I could count on one hand the number of married colleagues who weren't having sex with hookers.

Adultery is seen by most Americans as a moral and personal issue, not one for official sanctions or criminal prosecution (it's a crime in many states but enforcement for that alone is very rare, in some jurisdicitions unheard of for decades).

Only the military still routinely prosecutes for adultery. "Having an affair with a civilian" violates the Army's "highest ideals?" Who are they kidding.

*****

washingtonpost.com
An Army Affair

Thursday, August 11, 2005; A22

DESPITE MYRIAD hearings, investigations and prominent trials of privates and specialists, no commissioned officer has received serious punishment for any of the many confirmed cases of prisoner mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Two of those involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal have received letters of reprimand. One was demoted. None has been court-martialed.

By contrast, Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, 55, a four-star general who served 36 years in the Army, was abruptly relieved of his command on Tuesday. According to his attorney, Gen. Byrnes, who is now divorced, stands accused of having had an extramarital affair with a civilian who is not his colleague, is not his subordinate and has no connection to the military. An officer familiar with the case told The Post that despite the apparent irrelevance of the affair, the harsh verdict -- apparently the only such demotion of a four-star general in modern times -- was justified: "We all swear to serve by the highest ideals, and no matter what rank, when you violate them, you are dealt with appropriately."

From this incident, it is possible to draw only one conclusion: It's okay for officers to oversee units that torture civilians and thereby damage the reputation of the United States around the world, do terrible harm to the ideological war on terrorism and inspire more Iraqis to become insurgents. Having an affair with a civilian, on the other hand, is completely unacceptable and will end your career.

It's true, of course, that we don't know all the details of this case, and it is possible that some aspect of it will justify the dismissal of Gen. Byrnes. But if there is a justification, it had better involve national security at the very highest level. As it stands, the case reminds us of nothing so much as Voltaire's paraphrase of a British justification for the pointless execution of an admiral in the 18th century: "In this country it is found requisite, now and then, to put an admiral to death, in order to encourage the others to fight."
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:12 am

If it's not exactly what you say, Ralph, it's right up there with discharging translators who broke the "don't ask, don't tell" rule.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:03 pm

I'm not in favor of stupid policies (no matter tho', they multiply like rabbits and grow like Topsy), but I am curious about what one does about reassuring service wives that the military is not a gateway to a whorehouse.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:12 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:I'm not in favor of stupid policies (no matter tho', they multiply like rabbits and grow like Topsy), but I am curious about what one does about reassuring service wives that the military is not a gateway to a whorehouse.
*****

The cold answer is that the military can't. Affairs where service members live with their spouses start and end for the same reasons as any extramarital liaisons. Bu throw in overseas unaccompanied tours or Liberty off a ship and very many young men will find sex somehow, somewhere.

I heard many with whom I served rationalize their unfaithfulness without a bit of guilt. The reasons (excuses if you prefer) started with "I'm just a horny guy" and after a few variations tended to end there too). Not one person I knew would have accepted the wife's need for sex while he was away as a reason for either a fling or an affair. See Goldie Hawn in "Swing Shift."
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Post by pizza » Mon Aug 15, 2005 3:18 am

The idea may not be as stupid as you think. It could well be that the armed forces advocate the policy in order to try to maintain some stability and continuity within professional armed forces families, which is good for the services in the long run. Public advocacy of the policy may have some deterrent effect on promiscuity and its consequences and thus to some extent may implement those objectives. Obviously the services have more control over its members than any force that can be generated to bear on the public at large so I don't think a comparison between the general public and the armed forces is useful.

If you have data or studies other than anecdotal showing that it doesn't work at all, it would be interesting to see them.

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Post by Ralph » Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:25 am

pizza wrote:The idea may not be as stupid as you think. It could well be that the armed forces advocate the policy in order to try to maintain some stability and continuity within professional armed forces families, which is good for the services in the long run. Public advocacy of the policy may have some deterrent effect on promiscuity and its consequences and thus to some extent may implement those objectives. Obviously the services have more control over its members than any force that can be generated to bear on the public at large so I don't think a comparison between the general public and the armed forces is useful.

If you have data or studies other than anecdotal showing that it doesn't work at all, it would be interesting to see them.
*****

I doubt there are any studies.

I also doubt there is any deterrent effect. People who are married have affairs for many reasons. Enforcement of antiquated laws may well cause many to be more cautious but not to desist.

While it's true that service members yield many rights and privileges that civilians enjoy, it's also true that many aspects of behavior aren't that different. In fact the official policy of the armed forces has been to eliminate historic service traditions that conflict with modern reality. For example, not that long ago officers' wives, especially of higher ranking men, could not be gainfully employed. As recently as six or seven years ago a commander was formally rebuked for taking into consideration a subordinate officer's wife's career as a negative issue in evaluating him.

When I was in the Army no one could wear jeans on post. Shorts were unheard of off the tennis court.

Of course adultery is different in that it is facially a crime in a number of states albeit a rarely enforced law.

Military prosecution of adultery is invariably tied to the UCMJ article prohibiting conduct which brings discredit on the service, a broad catch-all. While there have been a few prosecutions of high visibility enlisted men, usually at the rank of sergeant-major, the overwhelming percentage of prosecutions have been of officers (historically and now). That charge is often employed as a social control mechanism.

As far as anecdotal evidence goes, EVERYONE who has served overseas, particularly in wartime, knows that adultery is the rule, not the exception and prosecutions are unheard of because the military would have to start from the top.

In Spring 2006 I'm offering a new course that I'm creating, The Constitution and the Military. This subject is gonna be in the syllabus.
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Re: No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

Post by Darryl » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:37 am

Ralph wrote:This editorial has it right.

When I was an Army officer in Korea and Vietnam I could count on one hand the number of married colleagues who weren't having sex with hookers.

Adultery is seen by most Americans as a moral and personal issue, not one for official sanctions or criminal prosecution (it's a crime in many states but enforcement for that alone is very rare, in some jurisdicitions unheard of for decades).

Only the military still routinely prosecutes for adultery. "Having an affair with a civilian" violates the Army's "highest ideals?" Who are they kidding.
Yes, perhaps more so in the Pacific Theater, but in Germany, the Anabella Haus and "Fifty-Mark Strasse" were not colocated with the base by accident. A strong dollar made this form of recreation irresistible for some.

I think this is a case of selective prosecution (like the IRS does) based on the senior rank. However, when I was a cadet in the early 80s, my AF superiors made it more than clear the anti-fraternization and adultery policy of the armed forces was serious business (I seem to remember something about Levinworth in practically the same breath). The services must have higher standards than civilian organizations, and no serviceman was ignorant of the law.

That said, enforcement probably depends on the personality and self-righteousness of the commanders. Since we're on the anniversaries of the big bombs, I remember MacArthur's response when one of his aides pointed out certain lascivious behaviors after US troops went into Japan: "if they want to go whoring, let them."

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Re: No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

Post by Ralph » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:09 am

Darryl wrote:
Ralph wrote:This editorial has it right.

When I was an Army officer in Korea and Vietnam I could count on one hand the number of married colleagues who weren't having sex with hookers.

Adultery is seen by most Americans as a moral and personal issue, not one for official sanctions or criminal prosecution (it's a crime in many states but enforcement for that alone is very rare, in some jurisdicitions unheard of for decades).

Only the military still routinely prosecutes for adultery. "Having an affair with a civilian" violates the Army's "highest ideals?" Who are they kidding.
Yes, perhaps more so in the Pacific Theater, but in Germany, the Anabella Haus and "Fifty-Mark Strasse" were not colocated with the base by accident. A strong dollar made this form of recreation irresistible for some.

I think this is a case of selective prosecution (like the IRS does) based on the senior rank. However, when I was a cadet in the early 80s, my AF superiors made it more than clear the anti-fraternization and adultery policy of the armed forces was serious business (I seem to remember something about Levinworth in practically the same breath). The services must have higher standards than civilian organizations, and no serviceman was ignorant of the law.

That said, enforcement probably depends on the personality and self-righteousness of the commanders. Since we're on the anniversaries of the big bombs, I remember MacArthur's response when one of his aides pointed out certain lascivious behaviors after US troops went into Japan: "if they want to go whoring, let them."
*****

Right and let's remember that MacArthur made it plain as the flash from an A-bomb that soldiers who raped Japanese women faced the death penalty (at that time death was a possible sanction for rape).
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Re: No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

Post by Darryl » Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:06 am

Ralph wrote:Right and let's remember that MacArthur made it plain as the flash from an A-bomb that soldiers who raped Japanese women faced the death penalty (at that time death was a possible sanction for rape).
But I'm not so sure about your hero Tecumseh. You did write we could see him "astride a hore" :wink:

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Re: No Competition! Most Idiotic Army Action of Recent Times

Post by Ralph » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:19 pm

Darryl wrote:
Ralph wrote:Right and let's remember that MacArthur made it plain as the flash from an A-bomb that soldiers who raped Japanese women faced the death penalty (at that time death was a possible sanction for rape).
But I'm not so sure about your hero Tecumseh. You did write we could see him "astride a hore" :wink:
*****

Oh boy and I kill students for faulty proofreading. :( He's definitely on a horse.
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:14 am

Corlyss_D wrote:I'm not in favor of stupid policies (no matter tho', they multiply like rabbits and grow like Topsy), but I am curious about what one does about reassuring service wives that the military is not a gateway to a whorehouse.
Just revisiting the thread after what I might call a modifed absence from the board.

Military wives on base whose husbands are deployed routinely have affairs with other men. Sorry I had to be the one to break that news. Being by default the point guy for military ops sucks in its own sort of way.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:59 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I'm not in favor of stupid policies (no matter tho', they multiply like rabbits and grow like Topsy), but I am curious about what one does about reassuring service wives that the military is not a gateway to a whorehouse.
Just revisiting the thread after what I might call a modifed absence from the board.

Military wives on base whose husbands are deployed routinely have affairs with other men. Sorry I had to be the one to break that news. Being by default the point guy for military ops sucks in its own sort of way.
*****

Sir,

You are a dastardly liar. An unfaithful military spouse? Never. All are in the mold of Libby Custer I am certain, faithful not only onto death but for decades thereafter.

Retract your canard or be prepared to face me on your next visit to Manhattan, dim sum at twenty paces.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:56 am

Ralph wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I'm not in favor of stupid policies (no matter tho', they multiply like rabbits and grow like Topsy), but I am curious about what one does about reassuring service wives that the military is not a gateway to a whorehouse.
Just revisiting the thread after what I might call a modifed absence from the board.

Military wives on base whose husbands are deployed routinely have affairs with other men. Sorry I had to be the one to break that news. Being by default the point guy for military ops sucks in its own sort of way.
*****

Sir,

You are a dastardly liar. An unfaithful military spouse? Never. All are in the mold of Libby Custer I am certain, faithful not only onto death but for decades thereafter.

Retract your canard or be prepared to face me on your next visit to Manhattan, dim sum at twenty paces.
Jeez, Ralph all right, sometimes the b*itches hitch up with each other.

And I'm buying under any cicumstances. I may just have a Berlin story to trade. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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