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Fat Leonard and the Decline of Military Values

Samuel P. Huntington concluded The Soldier and the State [1](1957), his influential study of U.S. civil-military relations, with this comparison of the U.S. Military Academy and Highland Falls, New York, the village situated just outside the gates of West Point:

West Point embodies the military ideal at its best; Highland Falls the American spirit at its most commonplace. West Point is a gray island in a many colored sea, a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon. Yet is it possible to deny that the military values—loyalty, duty, restraint, dedication—are the ones America most needs today?  ….  Upon the soldiers, the defenders of order, rests a heavy responsibility.  The greatest service they can render is to remain true to themselves…. If they abjure the military spirit, they destroy themselves first and their nation ultimately. If the civilians permit the soldiers to adhere to the military standard, the nations themselves may eventually find redemption and security in making that standard their own.

Once upon a time, as a young serving soldier of conservative temperament, I found Huntington’s idealized depiction of the professional military ethic to be immensely appealing. It accorded precisely with my image of myself and of my calling. Yet Huntington was describing aspiration, not reality. As actually experienced, military service differed considerably from Huntington’s ideal.

Huntington depicted an inherently conservative military profession that defended, even as it stood in tension with, an inherently liberal social order.  The values of that profession demanded that its members abjure liberalism and stand apart from that order. So Huntington believed.

Yet his juxtaposition of the bland and boring Highland Falls with the serenely ordered West Point was off the mark. Temptation lay not immediately outside the gates but further downriver in the garish glitter of Manhattan.

Liberalism per se poses a negligible threat to military professionalism. Far more dangerous are inclinations and attitudes that have seized American culture in an age when neither liberal principles nor conservative ones retain real standing, and when the gratification of appetites, whether material or sexual, has become one of the defining markers of our age. Bright lights, big city: that’s where the temptations to abandon loyalty, duty, restraint, and dedication reside.

What prompts these observations are two ongoing military scandals. The one scandal affects the Marine Corps, and involves misconduct by an anonymous group of (probably enlisted) Marines [2]. Centering on gender, it has drawn attention from journalists and members of Congress, who assiduously patrol the gender beat. The other scandal affects the U.S. Navy and involves senior officers up to the rank of admiral [3]. Years in the making, it attracts only intermittent attention.

In my own judgment, the Marine scandal, if by no means trivial, qualifies as the lesser of the two. An organization calling itself Marines United, perhaps involving as many as 30,000 participants, created a restricted web page on which it posted photographs of nude women, apparently without consent of the subjects. Some of those women were themselves Marines.  

This stunt qualifies as a grotesque and repugnant violation of privacy. Yet in an age where claims to privacy are everywhere besieged and when our infatuation with social media has created an online world where just about anything goes, it falls something short of shocking. The incident offers one more example of the detritus that the wondrous information age is leaving in its wake. As the journalist Christina Cauterucci acknowledged, pausing to catch her breath while subjecting Marines United to an extended rant [4], “This is the same tactic used by boys in middle school and high school, who create secret ‘slut pages’ on social media, where they distribute any private nude photos they get from girls in their grade.”

Just so. Such behavior is degrading, stupid, unacceptable—and everywhere.

Far more important, in my view, is the ongoing Navy scandal, known under the rubric of “Fat Leonard.” Weighing in at an impressive 350 lbs., Leonard Glenn Francis was, until his conviction on charges of fraud and bribery, CEO of an outfit called Glenn Defense Marine Asia. GDMA specialized in providing support services to ships of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet operating in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Fat Leonard himself specialized in plying officers of the Seventh Fleet with cigars, liquor, pricey wristwatches, concert tickets, vacations, and other gifts—not to mention five-star dinners and suites in luxury hotels, often with prostitutes as an added bonus. In return, these officers threw business to GDMA, which then overbilled the U.S. government to the tune of several tens of millions of dollars.

Scores of serving naval officers became Fat Leonard’s de facto agents in this sleazy enterprise. According to an investigative report [5] in the Washington Post, “Francis doled out sex and money to a shocking number of people in uniform who fed him classified material about U.S. warship and submarine movements.  ….  He exploited the intelligence for illicit profit, brazenly ordering his moles to redirect aircraft carriers to ports he controlled in Southeast Asia so he could more easily bilk the Navy for fuel, tugboats, barges, food, water and sewage removal.”

As of last year, 30 U.S. Navy admirals on active duty were under investigation for their suspected involvement in this conspiracy. That investigation, which dates from 2010, continues.  Earlier this week, authorities arrested Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a recently retired Navy intelligence officer, along with four retired Navy captains and a retired Marine colonel. Previously three other admirals had been censured and forced to retire. Another has pled guilty to related charges, as have several officers of lesser rank. Almost certainly, there will be further indictments forthcoming.

Christina Cauterucci accuses Marines United of “putting U.S. national security at risk.” That’s hyperbole. When it comes to the officers who sold their souls to Fat Leonard, however, the charge fits. Yet while bringing to justice those who committed crimes at Fat Leonard’s behest is imperative, examining the underlying factors that have produced such egregious corruption qualifies as more important still.

We confront evidence of an officer corps that has lost its moral bearings, abandoning the “military standard” for something quite different. To assume that the rot is confined exclusively to one particular service would be a grave mistake.

Andrew J. Bacevich is The American Conservative’s writer-at-large and a non-resident senior fellow at West Point’s Modern War Institute.

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35 Comments To "Fat Leonard and the Decline of Military Values"

#1 Comment By bacon On March 19, 2017 @ 11:55 pm

There was a lot of corruption in our military during WWII. It wasn’t publicized because in that time we didn’t air our dirty laundry publicly. I wonder, Dr. Bacevich, if you think we were more corrupt, about the same, or less in the mid 20th century, and if current investigative tools make it easier to ferret out these discouraging stories.

#2 Comment By John Roche On March 20, 2017 @ 2:18 am

I imagine this can be classified under the heading of the fruits of empire. Considering how much of this country revolves around the military and its financial “needs” its amazing how little the american public thinks or knows anything about this almost invisible superstructure. Professor Bacevich is on point as always.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 20, 2017 @ 3:30 am

Since war has been called the purist form of human sin, why would those so called not also be called to the penultimate sins accompanying it, even in peacetime? The reason for requiring extraordinary character from its officers, is because its practice is so corrupting. Perhaps such character is required to cover up a multitude of sins, or is a case of the gods of war, protesting too much. What we want to be so, as a consequence of its nature, can never be.

The loss of privacy and the ubiquitous voyeurism of our technological age, where everyone is surveilled, may not be the cause of degraded behavior. It may simply mean that now we see, how it has been, all along, sans propaganda, with the dogs of war unleashed. In our own age of permanent warfare we become inured to the accompanying institutionalized degradation.

Sergeant Bilko stares back at the selfie nation, a banality of evil, in a nation become unexceptional.

#4 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 20, 2017 @ 8:36 am

During my time as an officer in the Marine Corps, I observed how flag officers were treated with such reverence. They get cars and drivers, aides who run errands and ensure that they will not suffer the slightest inconvenience. The focus appeared not so much to get the mission accomplished but rather to kiss the general’s ass at every possible opportunity.

Given the obsequious treatment of general officers, it is no wonder that some of them start to think that the rules do not apply to them. Thus the Fat Leonard scandal. Time to let the flag officers know that they are not as wonderful as they think they are.

#5 Comment By icarusr On March 20, 2017 @ 8:39 am

I may not always agree with the author, but I generally respect his perspicacity. Here, I actually agree in large part with the conclusion, but his usual clear-sightedness is not present.

Two brief observations:

“Such behavior is degrading, stupid, unacceptable—and everywhere.”

Yes, and not sure what that means. If it is true that Marines posted nude photos of fellow Marines online, that says something about the culture of the Marines. In the armed forces, culture is destiny. This is not just about rampant sexism, but about respect due to the Marine whom you are charged with protecting and who will be asked to lay down her life in battle to protect you. Badly done and everywhere, to be sure; but I would not dismiss this as just some sort of harmless pervasive prank. It has and will have consequences if unchecked and undisciplined.

We confront evidence of an officer corps that has lost its moral bearings, abandoning the “military standard” for something quite different.

I can hear some fluffed-up four-star General intoning this with a lowered voice and wagging wattle; but a military historian. During his tour as First Lord, Churchill (with the help of his mercurial seventy-year-old First Sea Lord) set about breaking idiotic shibboleths gathered around the Royal Navy in over the preceding century. Warned about naval traditions, he is reputed to have dismissed it as nothing but “rum, bum and the lash.” The actual episode might be apocryphal; the sentiment about military “traditions” was not.

You cannot lose that which you do not possess, and the military is no more no less “moral” than the average Joe, and to pretend otherwise, is to fool ourselves, ignore history and clothe the army with an additional uniform they neither deserve nor merit. The more we imbue the actual uniform with some sort of moralistic mystique, the more we make precisely this type of behaviour likely.

No, the officer corps is no more no less corrupt than the average American; given unlimited opportunity wrapped in a halo, they can cheat and fornicate and drink and steal with the best of them.

They’re men – mostly men – not particularly well-paid, given more respect than they merit and less scrutiny than they deserve, ignored when old and injured – no wonder they do as do. You want a better officer corps? Reduce commitments abroad, recruit more intelligently, de-halo the army and stop corporate welfare for arms manufacturers. Until then, spare us the “moral bearings” nonsense.

#6 Comment By J Harlan On March 20, 2017 @ 9:00 am

Neither scandal is remarkable but bilking the tax payers for unnecessary expenses is the primary goal of DOD isn’t it? Is there really a difference between Admiral X getting a kick back for sending a ship to Port A or a bunch of admirals saddling the tax payer with the bill for the littoral combat ship all with the hope of using the project to their later professional or financial advantage? In the end the latter is far more damaging.

Given what the US military has done to the civilian populations of Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan via bombing I find it laughable to talk of “morals”. “Discipline” is probably the term the author should use.

#7 Comment By Al Strickland On March 20, 2017 @ 9:01 am

If memory serves Sherman’s black troops were almost wiped out in the battle for Savannah, Georgia. When Sherman was asked about his losses, he said he didn’t have any. Military values always have been, and always will be, in a state of flux.

#8 Comment By Mark Thomason On March 20, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

Marines protect other Marines. In this case, they victimized other Marines. That undermines a very basic value of the Corps.

It isn’t the nudes. It is the abuse of other Marines that is so shocking.

Compared to that, greed and corruption are more commonplace.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 20, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

“Military values always have been, and always will be, in a state of flux.”

Unacceptable.

The energy it takes o maintain a moral standard above par is enormous. And it should be the demand for everyone in public service and exemplified by men and women in the armed forces. There are defacto ambassadors of the country in CONUS and out.

Its hard to grasp the power that over the lives of others that exists in the military. The weight of that responsibility is easily lost amongst civilians. It easy to break careers and spirits over petty differences, personal and professional ambitions. The higher up the ranks, the more power and responsibility over lives.

The temptation for expedience over “rightness” can be immediate.

It’s a male world. It was intended to be. Because ultimately, its force rests in potential and actual violence, it should be. From the moment a male is born, he is prepared to use violence for the sake of defense of self and others.

Every,

“Be a man.”

utterance is intended as reinforce and reminder, that in this life pain is to be handled head on and embraced as his lot. For the most part anything resembling emotional expression of hurt of softness is considered womanly and to be sunned in exchange for the brutal responsibilities of care for others.

Women are not subjected to this as standard and it makes perfect sense why. They are prepared for for another role.

Certainly, one could not rebut that men can certainly be so atuned to the manly mystique; hardness, the pursuit of women, aggression etc, so as to be issues in relationships. But no one could deny that we foster these ethics in men. Which makes the inclusion of women as is currently be experimented problematic.

There are several issues here, that demand some caution before exercising judgment.

First men have been hanging portraits, pictures, images of nude, and clothed women as inspiration, motivation, since troops were invented. Whether bomber pilots of infantrymen, women of all manner of dress have been emblems on rifle butts and F-16 noses. Now I have little doubt that political correctness has moved those 16 images into cockpits, but this hardly earth shattering. Disappointing, but scandal barely. Certainly, no marine should put another marine in a compromising position and those photos certainly do that. But I am unprepared to be aghast in any direction, until I know more about the context of the photos themselves. Marines posing nude under what circumstances. The one instance I know of consists of a marine who engaged in sending photos via Instagram. Excuse me but this hardly a private forum. Suppose they garnered these photos from face book, or other social media outlets of a public exposure frame. That does not qualify as private and I am unclear why any marine would so engage.

Te tendency here to go after the males is in keeping with and old tradition of male responsibility. That tradition has been dismissed. If not completely gone officially, it is certainly under assail. And given the demands of equality etc, it well should be. But that removal has consequences. The burden shouldered is no longer male, nut service member. Women talking off their clothes had better be in accordance with private behavior, otherwise, they don’t have much standing for complaint, save under the old rules, which progressives, no small number of them women reject.

So each of these is a case by case matter. Women who gave up good order and prudence by engaging in public displays via the internet or other forums, i,e twitter exchanges, officer or not have little to complain about. They have compromised themselves. Being an adult woman alone is not cause for harm.

That would would be different for women whose intimate photo were taken from private venues intended for private viewing by the means of how there were created or delivered.

But crying wolf and the victim too is a wolf would be out of order.
_________________

As for the other, and by far the more important,

devastating and without excuse.

Unacceptable by any measure.

#10 Comment By avraham rosenblum On March 20, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

I think there still are plenty of good people there

#11 Comment By SteveM On March 20, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

Re: J Harlan, “Neither scandal is remarkable but bilking the tax payers for unnecessary expenses is the primary goal of DOD isn’t it?”

Exactly! I wonder if Professor Bacevich passed through a billet in the DoD program offices while he was in uniform. I was a (non retired military) DoD support contractor for 10 years and saw plenty of soft-corruption sausage being made and helped squander millions of taxpayer dollars myself. Here’s the way it works:

A uniformed officer is the program manager (PM) of a program office. He’s going to retire (at around 44) in a year or two so wants to parachute into a defense contractor job when he retires. His office utilizes support contractors that are generally staffed with retired military. To get that contractor support the PM is supposed to write up a statement of work (SoW) and have a contracting officer put out an RFP for competitive proposals. The work is supposed to be awarded to the proposal that provides the “best value to the government.”

The way it really works is that the PM targets a favored contractor he wants to work for. (His retired pals probably already work there.) He has THEM write the SoW. The contractor obviously writes the SoW so that only his company will win the award. The RFP is issued by a clueless contracting officer who may be a thousand miles away. Other contractors see the RFP but know that the work is wired so don’t even bid. The crony contractor wins the award by default.

Then the contractor supports the PM doing make-work for a year. The PM retires on a Friday and begins working for the contractor on Monday. His job? Supporting his old program office! The tasking? Apart from schmoozing, mostly mindless visual spaghetti PowerPoint engineering spending weeks on drafts changing “happy” to “glad” and inserting vertigo inducing graphics. The deliverables generally have a shelf life of maybe 10 minutes. When the next PM retires, the crank gets turned again.

The pension plus the contractor salary means the retired military person is taking in over $170,000 (taxpayer dollars) for essentially just showing up.

The Washington Beltway is a HUGE archipelago of DoD support contractors whose numbers probably swamp the total personnel of EPA and several other civilian agencies combined. Donald Trump’s solution to that DoD waste? Throw $54 BILLION more at it!

Another huge nugget of soft corruption are the “service related disability” claims. Nearly every service member who separates claims a disability. Why? Bump up in the pension and set asides for jobs and contracts. So tripped on the stairs on your way back from lunch at Fort Leavenworth? Service related disability. I sat around with retired military guys who crowed about how much they were able to game the disability system. One guy I know mentions that he is a “disabled veteran” in his business materials yet does CrossFit to stay in shape.

So in total, the taxpayers are paying for full pension of healthy individuals at 44, a crony contracting job that is often not worth doing or funding and paying disability often for the aches and pains of simple aging. Tons of taxpayer money is wasted and nobody cares.

The suffusion of corruption in the officer class extends way beyond the wild excesses of the Fat Leonard cabal. However even challenging that mess is politically impossible in this day and age of the sanctified “Warrior-Hero”.

Read it and weep fellow taxpayers…

#12 Comment By Tony D. On March 20, 2017 @ 2:03 pm

Who wrote this? It can’t be Professor Bacevich – I refuse to believe he’s naive enough to think crooked contractors taking advantage of bloated military budgets to walk away with trainloads of money by plying the right people with booze and hookers is anything but business as usual.

#13 Comment By Ray On March 20, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

icarusr:

“No, the officer corps is no more no less corrupt than the average American.”

I know where you are going with this but I cannot fully agree. Its true that members of the armed forces are on average exactly as moral as their countrymen when they join up. Self-selection probably results in a small pre-disposition to the military ethos (as well as adventure and physical fitness) but by and large, recruits are like their civy peers.

But then they begin to be formed by the new sub-culture which they join. Lawyers, teachers, ranchers and dancers also have their own sub-cultures, and they are very different from the military culture.

It would surprise me to see anyone argue that group culture does not affect the behaviour and views of its members – After all, much of what we do to build and protect fighting spirit – our traing , our traditions, our rituals – is based on the assumption that culture matters.

So its not axiomatic that military officers are just as corrupt as anyone else. They need not be, if they are taught that corruption is unacceptable. The question therefore becomes: Does the present-day military culture tolerate corruption? It seems that it might. But that is not inevitable, and so it is correctable.

The eye-watering amounts of money spent by the military-industrial complex present a powerful temptation to corruption. It can only be resisted by an equally powerful determination. Salutary courts-martial seem like the right response, provided they are seen as fair. The bad eggs are discarded and an example is made “pour encourager les autres”.

Military culture, like any other, can be shaped. The fact that there is a Fat Leonard scandal, and that it has claimed scalps, encourages me.

#14 Comment By Hexexis On March 20, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

One may be reminded that back in 1959, Pres. Eisenhower nominated MajGen. David M. Shoup to be CMC; in part because Eisenhower knew the general to be an honest guy who was vehemently opposed to Marine jr. officers developing cadres to advance their careers & usually to the detriment of their subordinates. Shoup’s nomination produced severe objections of his seniors, some of which resigned or retired in protest.

But only a few years back, I overheard a Marine major commenting on how “cool” it would be to carry some general’s bags; hardly an endorsement for serving one’s country &, as it turned out, the chief professional qualification of one of our recent “heroes,” David Petraeus.

The “good order & discipline” that has been the P.R. mantra of our armed forces too frequently has acceded to disorder & ill-discipline; something that’s not likely to disappear w/ the ill-disciplined & reckless “re-building” (read: over-funding) of our “military.”

#15 Comment By Just Dropping By On March 20, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

@ Al Strickland: I think you’re conflating two different things in a manner that defames Sherman. There was virtually no fighting at Savannah — the Confederate defenders fled on December 20, 1864 rather than allow themselves to be besieged. The only reference I can find to African-American Union troops suffering heavy casualties close to that was the Battle of Honey Hill on November 30, 1864, which did not involve troops under Sherman’s command, but rather troops under Gen. Hatch marching from South Carolina who were supposed to cut the rail lines to Savannah ahead of Sherman’s arrival at the city: [6] Thus, assuming Sherman made a statement to the effect that he suffered no losses in taking Savannah, I don’t think that reflects “military values . . . in a state of flux,” I think it’s correct unless you think Sherman should bear some responsibility for Hatch’s operation three weeks earlier.

#16 Comment By peanut On March 20, 2017 @ 3:33 pm

Given that military logistics everywhere and at all times were rife with thievery, I strongly suspect that by historical standards “Fat Leonard” is quite tame..

#17 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 20, 2017 @ 3:51 pm

“Given what the US military has done to the civilian populations of Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan via bombing I find it laughable to talk of “morals”. “Discipline” is probably the term the author should use.”

Unless there is evidence of violations of the Geneva Convention, the UCMJ or the Constittution, the US military conducting its missions may or may not be a moral question. But that question is the responsibility of the civilian community and I would agree that we have failed to provide ethical moral leadership on more than one occasion.

In such cases it is not the war dogs, it’s who holds the leash.

#18 Comment By J Harlan On March 20, 2017 @ 5:15 pm

The “Liberation Trilogy” by Rick Atkinson is the story of the US Army in North Africa and Europe in WW 2. One of the more interesting themes is corruption. Black markets, extravagant spending, theft and desertion abounded. It seems that “Kelly’s Heroes” was closer to documentary than fiction. “Crap Game” isn’t even close to an exaggeration.

I’m waiting for a good comedy-drama about the goings on at Camp Victory or Bagram. Since the troops weren’t allowed into downtown Baghdad or Kabul on unsupervised outings the corruption was left to contracting officers.

#19 Comment By Conewago On March 20, 2017 @ 8:21 pm

Dear Mr. Strickland:

Your memory does not serve you correctly. A quick consult of any order of battle of the Army of Georgia during the Georgia and Carolinas Campaign reveals that General Sherman did not command any black troops during the campaign. Moreover, the fight for Savannah was (by ACW standards) an exceptionally light one; 134 Union men (white soldiers) died in a fight over a fort, and a few days later the Confederate commander, Hardee, took his small command and fled the city. I can’t speak for the veracity of that Sherman anecdote. It doesn’t “sound” like him to me. This is the same man who publicly called war “Hell” after the Civil War.

icarusr:

You are correct to some degree. Nonetheless, the American military tradition as established by General Washington did, for a rather long time, tend to produce a body of officers that were deferential to the government even when, for example, the Continental Congress egregiously failed to pay them. The virtue of self-restraint was one that the General sought to establish within the American military tradition. And people like my grandfather, who served in the draftee Army of the 1950s, are adamant that it built a great deal of character within them. The military is, in a certain sense, both representative and unrepresentative of the society, by virtue of its being segregated and duty-bound towards a goal outside the mainstream of society. (Little wonder that the dregs of our political system attacked the military vigorously from the 1960s on in order to introduce women in combat roles and normalize homosexual behavior). Robert E. Lee, I think, summarized the dual nature of war and military life: “It is well that war is so terrible, for we should grow too fond of it.”

#20 Comment By Whine Merchant On March 20, 2017 @ 8:23 pm

How grateful I am that these comments are thoughtful and to the point. Not a single comment has felt the need to relate this to political parties or Commanders-in-Chief.

I suspect that had the business been conducted in the US and all profits staying on-shore, there would be less complaint. After all, as pointed-out in other comments here, isn’t a main role of the Pentagon to redistribute the wealth of the nation and keep business churning?

#21 Comment By no name this time On March 21, 2017 @ 4:50 am

I know personally of an incident in 1980 US Naval Officer raping enlisted female and forcing her to endure a golden shower. After a night of drunken partying in the BOQ. Please stop saying this corruption is something new.

#22 Comment By George from New York On March 21, 2017 @ 5:18 am

“garish glitter of Manhattan”

Aw, now your silly small town up bring is showing. Why don’t you go see Blanca Li and Maria Alexandrova at City Center? Li is getting on in years, so this might be your last chance to see her at her prime. I think they will change your perspective.

Let me posit an alternative theory. Mr Fat noticed that the USN had a habit of parking their Yachts in the most expensive marinas. You know, your Singapore and Japan type places, when there were plenty of cheaper slip rentals to be found. But wait, could those cheap third world ship holes service a genuine USN vessel? Well maybe if an entrepreneurial type got the right support staff and equipment like tugs in place it would work.

But wait. How to convince the leadership to accept these cheaper but equally good choices? Afterall Admiral So And So would have to give up the high culture, fine dining, ect in Singapore in exchange for some dump in Malaysia? Answer: the one thing Admiral So And So could not afford in Singapore, prostitutes. There is definitely an arbitrage possibility here.

So it was not the “garish glitter of Manhattan” that tempted Admiral So And So to park his boats in Singapore, it was Manhattan fine dining and Modern Dance. Ha Ha. BTW, what’s become of Gen Petreaus? Once they have seen Kabul you can’t keep them down on the farm can you?

As an after thought, who do you want in charge of the USN logistics? A bunch of wanna be ‘men about town’ who can’t survive outside of resorts like Okinawa and art centers like Singapore (or Annapolis for that matter) where the highly skilled locals provide all the services or Mr Fat who can get naval vessels serviced anywhere in the world? Answer: Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today I want to be a part of it, …

#23 Comment By Beard681 On March 21, 2017 @ 8:23 am

Ridiculous. The military is not the Boy Scouts. Like the police, they are called upon to do jobs, and deal with people that nobody else want to do. They are probably MORE susceptible to debasement than the average person.

The problem is not the Fat Leonard’s of the world, but the “straight arrows” that advocate for more aircraft carriers traveling to more ports than can possibly justified by any rational thinking.

#24 Comment By Dieter Heymann On March 21, 2017 @ 8:56 am

Many years ago a member of the Rice ROTC said the following to me: “The armed forces will get my body but not all of my brain”. Amen!

#25 Comment By braciole On March 21, 2017 @ 10:21 am

“Christina Cauterucci accuses Marines United of “putting U.S. national security at risk.” That’s hyperbole. When it comes to the officers who sold their souls to Fat Leonard, however, the charge fits.”
Did the officers who sold their souls really put “U.S. national security at risk”? U.S. national interests maybe, but not U.S. national security which requires the coastguard, a few capital ships and the National Guard and Air National Guard at most, not the fleets afloat in various distant parts of the world. Perhaps it’s time for Trump to establish a Department of War as well as a Depertment of Defense and allocate each its necessary budget. $500 billion for war and $100 billion for defense seems about right to me.

#26 Comment By J Harlan On March 21, 2017 @ 3:49 pm

If you will torture or kill someone solely because you have been told to why would you be expected to have moral qualms about fudging expense reports or tailoring your work to ensure you get a good post service job?

Look at the arrest of Manuel Noriega. The US invaded Panama (BTW a breach of international law) and inflicted over 1,000 casualties to arrest one man. Did we hear about any concerns from the generals about the morality of that? Not a peep.

As I wrote before the author should complain about discipline not changing morals.

#27 Comment By Agent76 On March 21, 2017 @ 4:25 pm

20.03.2017 Americans Support Increasing Budget of Most Wasteful Federal Department

There is only one Cabinet-level federal Department that is so wasteful — so corrupt (&/or incompetent) — that its financial records can’t even be audited, meaning that no auditors can be found who will certify its books: the Defense Department, otherwise called «the Pentagon»

[7]

#28 Comment By kalendjay On March 21, 2017 @ 7:52 pm

Francis Fukuyama has walked away from his “end of history and the last man” propositions, and discovered virtues in the Wilsonian concept of the well trained, functional civil service. He rightly points out the obsession of matching mustered out soldiers to the postal service, instead of looking at large for people elsewhere who might deliver our mail.

That is but a fraction of the indulgent attitude toward uniformed personnel that has become a mindset of the now ‘conservative movement’, that trolls for patriots to support America, and waits in the shadows for its ‘piece of the action’. Social Security, the VA, the Dept of Agriculture. Get what’s left of public healthcare while you can, by joining the government!

Are we no more than patriots in the sense of aping the Russians?

#29 Comment By Parent On March 22, 2017 @ 4:25 am

I have to strongly disagree with the author.

My friend’s son joined the Air Force as part of a tuition program for medical school. It meant he could complete medical school, serve his country, help save American lives on the field and emerge debt free. He served abroad in medic units in the mideast. Got hands on experience on the field, placed well and now in his residency.

Before Marines United, I believed the same opportunity was available to my daughter, who is currently interviewing at medical schools here in the states.

If my daughter informed me she wanted to enlist under the GI bill’s program, now, I wonder how vehemently I would dissuade her from serving her country, of putting her life on the line under these circumstances.

I question whether the men she would serve with would protect or respect her.

With the understanding it was not the majority of the Marine Corp. who participated in Marines United.

What troubles me are articles like this one, which indicate an overall culture is one of casual dismissal, since harassment, abuse and blackmail happen “everywhere”, after all. Articles like this, are far more indicative of a mindset determined to ignore a problem that will inevitably lead to lethal repercussions to our service members.

“Centering on gender, it has drawn attention from journalists and members of Congress, who assiduously patrol the gender beat.”

The G word. The author implies this scandal is just a feminist, gender oriented publicity stunt. No. Marines United attracted attention precisely because it was not some upper level bribery scandal, nor three or four buddies swapping nude girlfriend pictures — but involved 30,000 average run of the mill Marines, who specifically targeted other Marines for exposure and harassment. Enough that an actual percentage of the Marine force was involved. It’s not a gender issue, it’s a systemic culture problem.

It brought to mind a black friend of mine, who grew up in a small town in the South. He said one day in his childhood, he was suddenly struck by the realization of being completely surrounded by descendants of the KKK. They hadn’t disappeared, they were all around him. They were sitting next to him in school, in the grocery, in the restaurants, some quietly seething at his unwelcome presence. Still, reading about the extent, the vehemence, the dishonor, the malice, toward American women from their own fellow servicemen, even as they were struggling and depending on each other to stay alive. I feel for them, like being that one black guy walking around in a confederate southern town, an invisible target painted on their backs.

#30 Comment By Carl Rossini Jr. On March 22, 2017 @ 10:52 am

Whatever we tolerate and celebrate in our wider culture will eventually contaminate/inform out elites. The idea of a group of philosopher kings, elite central staff, or pure regulators was rejected by the founders, and not shown by history.

#31 Comment By robert rodriguez On March 22, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

If any of the charges of senior military misconduct are even partially true foreign intelligence services may have evidence of wrongdoing that could be used to blackmail or otherwise use the info to create havoc. I sincerely hope that is not the case and that US counterintelligence/FBI/CIA services are doing their jobs well.

#32 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 22, 2017 @ 6:48 pm

“I sincerely hope that is not the case and that US counterintelligence/FBI/CIA services are doing their jobs well.”

They seem to be concentrating on reversing the election, these days.

#33 Comment By robert rodriguez On March 23, 2017 @ 11:00 am

If counterintelligence agencies like the FBI are meddling in political matters, as alleged, we have a much bigger problem than “a few” rogue military officers. A solution to this problem is not evident, unless you can “impeach” the entire political/military establishment and start over. Not likely.

#34 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 23, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

“It brought to mind a black friend of mine, who grew up in a small town in the South. He said one day in his childhood, he was suddenly struck by the realization of being completely surrounded by descendants of the KKK.”

I am over responding here.

Nothing and I mean nothing experienced by white women compares or should be compared to the consequences of being a black person in the US. Even the mere hint that such could be possible stretches reality. I am certainly a believer in empathy. But the link to black experience by white women is part of a larger problem.

The reason and purpose for discrimination to black disadvantage has been and remains to protect white women. It’s in every dripping of narrative to the black white relationship. It is foundation to the construction of the US experience. This has been particularly true regarding areas in which masculinity dynamics are at play. The police and no less so the military history of black men in service.

White women whatever their issues with their white male counterparts have and will continually be the locus of protection. Nothing in military history suggests that they would not be protected. Even his incident does not belie any internal indication that women would not be protected. In fact, the evidence suggests it is that ingrained instinct in training and societal orientation that may be the hurdle in an integrated combat arms service. Men taking an added burden of looking out for women, even if there is no need.

A cadre of men looking, “gawking” at nude images of their fellow marines and others is not a sign of much other than men like looking at women considered in fairly good shape. My position here is not approval. Its acknowledging the reality of men and women. Historically the US military has a proud tradition of doing all it can for women in service. While the history for black males and females is completely the opposite and it remains so to this day. I have no idea how the country does not fall cripple to the reality that the Nazi soldier was treated to better fare than the US black armed service men fighting for the case against them. It’s bizarre. And white women on the whole have no clue of this dynamic. None.

If there is any resentment, it exists in a dynamic in which of greater rank hold sway over men with less. And I can think of nothing more peculiar than women who are not in combat arms having said power over men who ultimately will be in battle. A female drill instructor pounding out commands to men whom she will never share an MRE with in combat is a peculiar scenario.

Now I have to grant that there are incidents of abuse. But taking the most extreme examples, men in the armed services suffer more from incidents of rape than women as is the case amongst the general population.

If women want to jump off the pedestal on which they are held as “equals” there’s a price. And looking at the history of blacks in service should cause every white male and female there but by the grace go I. That as opposed to the subtle claims to similar experience which white men and women have parlayed into advantages for themselves.

Despite the inappropriateness, I doubt the men exchanging the photos in question were thinking how they could leave women in a lurch in time of need. If history is any indication, it is more likely to have the opposite effect.

Those be their women so to speak and heaven help the soul that treads not lightly in their direction. I am sure black enlisted and officers can share a tale or two of how that works.

#35 Comment By Greg Erdmann On March 24, 2017 @ 9:56 am

I was reading were these officers are still going to get their pensions which can be very substantial Ok they earned it for the years of service they put in, here is MY beef with that I served in the Army for 4 years than served in the National Guard for 15 years 4 months. I had one Article 15 and that was 3 years into my Service. I received many awards in my service time. I was a Staff Sgt and was proud of serving my country. I made a bad choice at the end of my career and tested positive for THC. I went in front of a “Military Court” and after it was all said and done I was given a Honorable Discharge. I begged the court to reduce me to an E1 and I would take a UA test every week if they wanted me to. But since I was an NCO there was a zero tolerance for “drugs” I lost my pension and I’ve accepted it ,I made the stupid choice but when I read what these guys have done, our “leaders” and they still get their pension and who knows what else makes me bitter oh well thanks for listening