This Man’s Army: New York Post Editorial

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DeM Banter: And we can not forget “Poppa Panda Sexy Pants,” is there any doubt we are facing a crisis of leadership in the US? Is it a training issue? Is it an accountability issue? Is it morals? Standards? All of the above? Or is it people afraid to make the tough calls when the tough calls have to be made? Are our folks empowered to make the tough calls? I note below Manning had issues in basic training? Were the soldiers there afraid to make the call…too lazy… or perhaps they felt they would not be be backed up if they made the call..were they empowered to make THAT call? Was there enough evidence at that time to kick him out? It all looks very easy on this side of the problem, but I guarantee it looked different in basic training… someone there knew Manning could not cut it, but were probably fearing they would be second guessed… or perhaps it was too “mean,” “harsh,” you name it, to kick him out. Are our leaders able to make those tough calls on evidence that is not all that firm…it’s a gut check…can we trust our gut? Or is the system not set up to support those gut calls? Ponder Gen Sinclair…where were his peers? The article linked above says people were even joking about the affair…were they empowered to make the call? Can our system make those tough calls or does it take a Wiki-leaks, a Snowden, a cross-dresser (can you imagine the press if we kicked Manning out for cross-dressing), or a “Poppa Panda Sexy Pants” before we can really make that call? Something to ponder…

August 15, 2013
Pg. 28

This week, America is being treated to two court spectacles, neither of them flattering to the Army.

One is the sentencing phase for Pfc. Bradley Manning, recently convicted of handing state secrets to WikiLeaks. The other is the trial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan for the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood that killed 13 people and wounded another 30.

Both raise a fundamental question: What the heck is going on with our Army?

Tuesday’s hearing revealed that in April 2010, Manning sent an e-mail to his commanding officer admitting to a gender-identity “problem.” Attached to the e-mail was a picture of himself dressed as a woman wearing makeup and a blond wig.

Manning had been sending classified material to WikiLeaks since January and was arrested weeks after he sent the e-mail. But signs pointing to his instability went back years. He lost a civilian IT job because he’d often just stare into space. In basic training, he regularly got into fights and was recommended for a discharge.

Yet the Army kept him, trained him as an intelligence analyst and gave him a “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” — precisely what he needed to access some of the nation’s most sensitive material.

Hasan is another example of the Army’s failing to identify an individual unsuited for service. A military psychiatrist, Hasan was known for pushing his radical beliefs on others well before he went on his killing spree. This was a man the Army assigned to counseling returning vets.

During his service, the FBI learned that Hasan had multiple contacts with Islamist radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Eighteen intercepted e-mails to Awlaki between December 2008 and June 2009 were judged by the FBI as related to Hasan’s “professional research.” Not to mention that the Fort Hood killings are officially deemed “workplace violence” instead of terrorism.

A military court will eventually reach a verdict on Hasan, just as another military court has already held Manning responsible for his actions. Our question is this: Who’s going to hold the Army to account?

8 Replies to “This Man’s Army: New York Post Editorial”

  1. Great article….too many folks don’t make the tough calls. Seen that as a cadet and trough my military career. It is easy to take the shots at the bad experiences, but there are good experiences as well. Unfortunately, it only takes an “oh crap” to wipe out all the good stuff. I think you can see/hear some of that happening at our entry points into the military and unfortunately, that continues on active duty. This is a good reminder that if we don’t do our best to guard the gates, a lot of bad things can happen..
    Good article by the way!

  2. Agreed. Lots to ponder. Without even reading the article, just sitting with colleagues to discuss and collectively answer those great, probing questions you pose will have a direct impact on the group. It is a small step, but a step in the right direction all the same. That is because accountability is something that is socialized and normalized. It cannot be fixed by email or point-paper. Whatever the organization – neighborhood, military unit, business unit, local church, … – it is a result of normative behavior and accepted values developed over time through day-to-day, face-to-face interactions. If the rule book has been thrown out in favor of unwritten rules and practices, it may be time to challenge the written rule book and refresh it in order to bring the organization back onto a clear path. That path may not be the same as before, but at least for the group included in rewriting the book, it will be free of trees, tall grass, and pitfalls…for the time-being.

    1. I don’t know if it is a matter of re-writing… it might be more folks that are more and more afraid to even have the tough conversations as they might offend someone….or they might be viewed in a negative light, or they might get in trouble. So it is easier to not say anything…just let it go, someone else will pick it up. There is also a large values component here…what are our values? What is the standard? Any standard can be picked apart…and soon the standards are destroyed. Or….maybe I just need more coffee..
      Thanks Roger…good notes…

      1. More coffee couldn’t hurt…Of course, everything can be picked apart. Some people take pleasure in doing just that. Others take the path of least resistance…just let it go.

        Leaders, on the other hand, insist on having courageous conversations that start with “so how do we collectively build it back up, own it, and move forward now that we have picked it all apart?”

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