Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Military Deficiencies

What’s wrong with America’s military?

Yesterday we learned that Devin Patrick Kelley’s name should have been entered into a database listing those who should never be allowed to buy a gun. He had been court martialed by the Air Force and did hard time for assaulting a small child and his wife. Restrictions on gun purchases were made for people like Kelley.

And yet, the Wall Street Journal reports:

But 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley’s history of violence didn’t prevent him from purchasing weapons.

One reason, an Air Force spokeswoman said, is because the service failed to submit Kelley’s record to the Federal Bureau of Investigation following a court-martial conviction, including for slamming his baby’s head. The military’s lapse apparently explains why Kelley passed an FBI background check and was allowed to purchase guns in recent years.

That's a very costly bureaucratic lapse. 

In an editorial today the Journal points out that it’s not just combat readiness that has diminished, the minds of some of America’s servicemen have also been hollowed out. One was appalled that Barack Obama, no exemplar of patriotism, would trade five Taliban commanders for a deserter. He followed up by commuting the sentences of a man-woman who had been convicted of treason and of a domestic terrorist who had killed innocent Americans. 

But, the infection seeped into the mind of one of America’s military judges. In particular, this judge allowed Bowe Bergdahl to walk free last week, after it was clearly established that he deserted his front line post. Several soldiers died trying to recover him from the Taliban.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized this morning about the diminished capacity, on both moral and readiness grounds:

The first was a military judge’s decision to let off U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl with a slap on the wrist for desertion in Afghanistan in 2009. After a court martial, Army Colonel Jeffery Nance recommended that Bergdahl be dishonorably discharged, demoted to private and forfeit $10,000 in pay. Prosecutors had sought 14 years in prison.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for nearly five years, a terrible ordeal to be sure. But those most outraged by the wrist slap are other members of the armed services who fear the damage to military discipline. Bergdahl deserted on the battlefield in a forward post—the worst betrayal you can make against your fellow soldiers save for fragging them with friendly fire.

And then there were the accidents that befell American ships in Asia, accidents that were caused by incompetent seamanship, accidents that cost the lives of several sailors:

Even more distressing is the Navy’s report on its investigation into the collisions with civilian vessels this year in the Pacific theater by the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. The collisions—off the coast of Japan, and in the Singapore Strait, respectively—resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

The 71-page report, which says both collisions were “avoidable,” is damning about the Navy’s training practices and makes for dispiriting reading if you are a civilian who thinks the U.S. Navy is the best in the world. The report says watch team members on the Fitzgerald “were not familiar with basic radar fundamentals.” And it cites a failure to plan for safety, adhere to sound navigation practices, properly use available navigation tools, and respond effectively in a crisis.

As for the McCain, the Navy cited a loss of situational awareness in response to mistakes in operating the ship’s steering and propulsion system. It also cited the failure to follow the International Nautical Rules of the Road that govern maneuvering vessels amid high-density maritime traffic. These are mistakes of basic seamanship that suggest inadequate training, or shifts that are too long and cause a loss of concentration and crew cohesion.

No one is reporting on these reports because they do not make Donald Trump look bad. Should the Navy take consolation from the fact that it has become more diverse? Should it brag about the fact that gender diversity has become the rule for these dysfunctional crews? Should it tell us how much time and energy was spent on sensitivity training and how many sailors and commanders lost their careers for fraternization?

And yet, how did it happen that while the Navy fails to perform everyday maneuvers, its leaders have stood up for transgendered soldiers. It’s not just combat readiness. The military now must overcome its moral dereliction, whether it concerns excusing desertion or whether it involves the bureaucratic responsibility to report to the FBI the name of an airman who had no business being able to buy a gun.


trigger warning said...

"What’s wrong with America’s military?"

It's being used as a large-scale experimental psychology subject pool.

Jack Fisher said...

The Army can be a tool for implementing civil rights and social policy, such as the US Colored Troops raised in the Civil War and the four black regular cavalry and infantry regiments that served until the Army was ordered fully desegregated in the late 1940s.

trigger warning said...

Everybody knows the military can be used to implement social policy. So what?

Jack Fisher said...

It appears to be a surprise to you. Glad to school you, as always.

Sam L. said...

See https://www.jqpublicblog.com/ for more on troubles in the USAF.

Christopher B said...

The military is an extremely hierarchical and autocratic institution which should make projection of its cultural changes to what might happen in society at large suspect to any thinking person.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stuart Schneiderman said...

As I said before on numerous occasions, I am tired of AO's constant negativity and constant criticism. I will no longer allow rambling carping to be posted. Keep it under 140 characters and do not offer another endless list of links. It is not AO's blog!!

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: No one is reporting on these reports because they do not make Donald Trump look bad.

Negativity is a two way street. A quick google search found over a dozen news sources with articles about the "no one reporting" report.

trigger warning said...

JF: "It appears to be a surprise to you."

Nothing has surprised me since January 1993, which I mark as the beginning of the colonization of government policymaking and civil service positions via mass migration of academic and "nonprofit" purveyors of grievance politics.

Dennis said...


I wondered how long that was going to take?

Anonymous said...

More than 60 Navy Captains & Admirals are being investigated for corruption of various kinds.

And all the rest. I've been writing about that here for quite some time.

I blame Rumsfeld, in part. He only gave stars to Yes Men & Women.

It disheartens me. Oh, sorry about misplacement of my last.

Hackers crashed my Mac twice today. Took hours w/tech support & Norton to fix. -- Rich Lara