Thursday, August 18, 2005

Change in Culture

So General Kevin Byrnes, the (former) commander down at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, was relieved of command this month. This may seem like old news, but it deserves a closer look. According to the Army Times (you may need a subscription):

Since the Aug. 9 announcement of Byrnes’ relief, many in the Army community had questioned why the popular and highly respected general had received a punishment that, on the surface, seemed disproportionate to his alleged offense.
“The allegation against Gen. Byrnes involves a consensual, adult relationship with a woman who is not in the military, nor is a civilian employee of the military or the federal government,” according to an e-mail statement from Byrnes’ lawyer, Lt. Col. David Robertson, an attorney in the Army’s Trial Defense Service. “Gen. Byrnes and his wife separated in May 2004. They remained separated until their divorce became final on 8 Aug 2005,” Robertson wrote to Army Times, indicating that the couple maintained separate domiciles and did not appear together at official Army functions following their separation. Byrnes, who was due to retire in November, did not respond to a message left on his answering machine seeking comment.

“You’ve got to wonder, what the hell’s the story,” a TRADOC source said. “And why 90 days before a change of command? Why not let him change command and then hold up his retirement?”

Incredible. According to these standards, any number of General Officers throughout history would have been axed! General Dwight D. Eisenhower allegedly had an affair with his driver Kay Summersby. The truth may never be known, but he would have been hung in today's environment. We even had a later President get a BJ in the White House.

The left would no doubt quickly point out that we have evolved and that 'exploiting women' is no longer acceptable (unless they are interns). They may also point out that now-a-days the KKK no longer enjoys the tactic approval of a large group of people (excepting Robert Byrd). I agree that we have improved in a number of areas, but the thing is, 1) all of this is alleged, 2) It was not an employee of either the government or military, and 3) he was separated from his wife, with a clear intent by both parties, to divorce.

I am not condoning adultry... my first marriage ended due largely to infidelity on the part of my (then) wife. I do think that the military needs to meet an exceptionally high standard of conduct. Truthfully, making this all public has only hurt our reputation in a time when we could use a leg up! I have spoken to several senior officers from TRADOC and by all accounts, this alleged affair did not affect the workplace at all, firing him right before retirement made it a black eye.

It is already really damn difficult to make it in the increasingly "zero defect" mentality of the current military. Now there is yet another layer of standards that are not required in any other job outside of the military. Now a guy who has done all the right things to end a marriage is cast aside with no meaningful remorse. Trust me when I say that his peers are all running for cover. They have no choice.

No doubt there is more to the story, but then again, this is the same senior leadership that won't allow a soldier to have a beer, nudie mag, or any fun in the warzone. You arrogant bastards! Again, the Army on the tactical level is absolutely kicking ass... in spite of the disconnect at the senior levels. Keep up the good fight!