Some thoughts on President Obama Purging All Those Generals!

Maybe it’s the company I keep, but I see this story pop up over and over again on FB and elsewhere.  It’s like Groundhog Day for nonsense.  The gist of the story is that President Obama is purging the military of senior officers who disagree with him on – you pick the conspiracy – Benghazi, ObamaCare, Fast and Furious, and of course Obama’s master plan to confiscate all privately owned weapons in ‘Merica.

The story appears in several non-mainstream on-line media outlets such as Red Flag, The Blaze, and my personal favorite WND, which stands for “We’re Not Democrats.”  The stories are remarkably cut and paste similar, as is the “insider source” quoted in every piece, Retired Major General Paul Vallely.  Vallely, who’s bio omits the fact he did not serve in the active duty army past the rank of Major, styles himself as a defense expert, former Fox News commentator, and expert on everything anti-Obama, from “birther” theories to the Benghazi cover-up.

Google Mr. Vallely and read some of the quotes he has provided various “news” organizations.  He clearly wants to be a major player in a public opinion campaign to remove President Obama and others from office, and not at the next election.  He is a nutter – and a scary one at that. Here are a couple samples:

– Calls for “forced resignations”

– “Civil uprising is still not out of the question”

– “Shake off the existing government” – quoting Lincoln!

Mr. Vallely has named names of officers who were purged, though not which ideological test they supposedly failed.  Recent articles list nine generals purged by the Obama administration within the last year.  OK then! Facts being stubborn things, let’s peel back the onion a little and look at why these nine men were fired (IF they were indeed fired) shall we?

USAF Major General Michael Carey, Commander, 20th Air Force:  Relieved by the Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command for personal misbehavior while on temporary duty.  The military is sometimes tight-lipped (far too much so) about incidents like this.  Best guess is he got drunk, did something stupid, and his boss lost confidence in his ability to command the nation’s ICBM fleet.  Sound harsh? It should.  He was a general officer.  He clearly failed a test, but not the one Vallely suggests.

Marine Major Generals C.M.M. Gurganus and Gregg A. Sturdevant:  Both asked to retire by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for failing to provide adequate force protection for Marine assets in Afghanistan.  The Blaze calls this a “rare move” in a combat zone.  True, but so is losing an entire squadron of AV-8 Harrier aircraft to an attack by 15 insurgents.  Protecting aircraft and the folks who make them fly is what   I used to do for a living.  These may well be fine men – but if you fail to protect your ability to conduct combat operations you are going to get canned, regardless of your views on the Affordable Care Act.

Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, Vice Commander, U.S. Strategic Command:  He was second in charge of the nation’s strategic nuclear arsenal.  The President relieved him (the President is the only one who could relieve him in that position) after a civilian police and NCIS investigation into his use of counterfeit poker chips in a casino in Iowa, across the border from his Nebraska headquarters.  Pundits have poo-pooed this charge as trivial, but the good people of Iowa think it is a felony.

Army Lieutenant General David Huntoon, Superintendent, US Military Academy:  Supposedly fired (according to The Blaze) for misuse of subordinates and other misconduct – yet he served 40 years in the Army and completed a four-year tour as West Point Superintendent.  Where is the evidence he was relieved?  General Huntoon is the only officer on the list I have met and spoken with.  I recall being very impressed.  He might be surprised to see himself on The Blaze’s list.

Army Brigadier General Bryan Roberts, Commanding Officer, Fort Jackson:  Relieved for getting into a physical altercation with the women he was having an adulterous affair with.  Yup, that will get ya fired every time.

Army Major General Ralph Baker, Commander, Combined JTF Horn of Africa:  Fired by General Carter Hamm (which is problematic if this one was ideological because Obama supposedly fired Hamm for the same stuff).  Baker was fired for sexual misconduct and alcohol use.

Navy Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette,  Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3:  Fired for making racially insensitive comments by the Commanding Officer, 5th Fleet.

Army General Carter F. Hamm, Commander, U.S. Africa Command:  Was General Hamm’s tour shortened at Africa Command?  I don’t know.  Three possibilities exist: 1. His command tour was shorter than normal because he replaced General “Kip” Ward at AFRICOM, who WAS fired and demoted for personal misconduct.  2.  He took action after being ordered to stand-down on Benghazi and so was replaced early without being fired. 3.  He disagreed with administration policy on Benghazi or elsewhere in his command and asked for retirement.  I’m perfectly OK with any of these reasons for his retirement, or some combination therein.  Officers serve at the pleasure of the President.  As well, officers, especially combatant command leaders like General Hamm, may resign and retire if they feel they cannot implement national security policy as directed by their boss, the President.

So what to make of all this?  Well, quite a few generals and admirals failed to maintain the high standards expected of them by the American people.  As I write this, six senior Naval officers have been relieved in the Pacific in a big contracting scandal there.  Why? For the officers fired for personal misconduct, I’d sum it up in one word – HUBRIS.  It is a disease affecting far too many American military generals.  I know many general officers that are true servant leaders, humble men and women who see their advancement to flag rank as a further opportunity to serve others.  But there are others who get FAR too enamored of themselves and eventually self-destruct.

Personally, I won’t lose a wink of sleep over this alleged purge.  First, because it is complete hogwash, but, perhaps more importantly, I just don’t idolize general officers.  If I’m looking for a hero (and aren’t we all) I look to the young folks with “Sergeant” or “Corporal,” or “Airman” in front of their names. They don’t jet back and forth between the combat zone and Tampa socialites (whatever THAT is).  They don’t politic in Washington and they are not generally feted at black-tie dinners.  But they ARE the ones fighting and dying for their country, since the earliest days of our Republic.

General Douglas MacArthur, who WAS relieved by President Truman, famously said, “Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away…” I could never understand that, because, well, they certainly do die!  But I like the “fade away” part.  They should certainly do that.