As a military officer hailing from Alabama, I’ve closely followed the controversy surrounding Senator Tommy Tuberville. His actions have not only slowed the promotion process for flag and general officers but also led to a hold on the advancement of over 300 admirals and generals.
In a recent joint opinion piece, the three political appointees heading the Army, Navy, and Air Force expressed their concerns about Senator Tuberville’s impact on national security. N
ow, even uniformed officers at the highest echelons are adding their voices, emphasizing how this hold not only jeopardizes national security but also affects military personnel and their families.
While not everyone in the military agrees with these public statements, it’s crucial to shift the focus towards the actual warfighters and the vital issue of public trust.
Trust is the bedrock of any effective fighting force. General Martin Dempsey, during his tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, highlighted the sacrifices made by American service members. He emphasized that trust was the force that enabled them to persevere. Sadly, this sacred element seems to have lost its priority.
Our senior military leaders have, in numerous instances, betrayed the trust of service members and the American public. They have shielded themselves and their institutions rather than holding individual leaders accountable. Here are three glaring examples:
1. The Global War on Terror, spanning over two decades, lacked clear strategic objectives and victory criteria, resulting in over 7,000 service members paying the ultimate price without a clear path to victory. Yet, no military leaders were held accountable.
2. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was marred by poor planning, leading to unnecessary loss of 13 service members and leaving over $7 billion worth of military equipment behind. Again, no military leaders were held accountable.
3. Violations of the law and constitutional rights occurred during the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, resulting in over 8,400 involuntary discharges with severe charges of misconduct, and many receiving Other Than Honorable (OTH) service characterizations. Yet, no military leaders were held accountable.
This lack of accountability has eroded trust within the force and among the American people.
Abandonment of Warfighting Families
The service secretaries discussed the burden placed on admirals and generals holding dual positions, emphasizing the hardships faced by their families. This statement must have been infuriating for the more than 7,000 families permanently separated from their loved ones due to wartime loss.
Where were the service secretaries’ statements calling for an early end to the war in Afghanistan or demanding accountability for the botched withdrawal? Families of those lost in the Global War on Terror and the 8,400 discharged service members feel betrayed.
A Recruiting Crisis
The op-ed also highlighted the unforeseen expenses and stress faced by admirals and generals due to delayed promotions. This statement is difficult to digest after thousands of junior service members were discharged, many forced to relocate and find new work.
Instead of addressing the damage caused by these discharges, senior leaders are fixated on their own promotions. Admiral Grady’s concerns about planning moves and schooling for families are misplaced when considering the discrimination faced by service members during the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Accountability is Imperative
Those responsible must be held accountable. Until then, trust in our military leaders will continue to erode, and the recruitment crisis will persist. The time has come for our military leaders to demonstrate moral courage, uphold the law, and protect service members’ constitutional rights. The American people deserve nothing less.
Robert A. Green Jr. is an active duty Navy Commander and the author of Defending the Constitution behind Enemy Lines. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the DoD or the U.S. Navy.