- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Capt. John Byron, USN (ret.)
Best Defense department of harassing sexual harassers
The other day, the Washington Post tallied over two dozen cases of general and flag officers who’ve recently gotten across the breakers for conduct not worthy of an officer. The article notes that two defense secretaries in a row have called for thorough investigations of the situation and doubtless there will emerge a call for more ethics training and sterner punishment of the miscreants. No argument these measures are worthwhile, but they’ve been applied before and the situation gets worse.
I’ve a more practical solution to add to these commonplaces. And in addition to attacking the primary problem, my proposal will also help solve a second and perhaps related issue, that of too many flags overall. Let’s do this: Whenever a general/flag officer is removed from his position (damned few women, if any, in this corps of cads), the position also be eliminated. That’s right: body and billet both be gone.
Sure, this might leave a hole in a unit that must be refilled. OK. The service involved can fill behind, but only if the body that goes in brings with him a billet from somewhere else in the service; every flag/general officer that gets fired reduces the total flag/general officer billet count in his service by one.
Thus we weed out both useless officers and pretty much useless billets, either where the guy was serving or from elsewhere in the big outfit. Not only will this draw down the list of bad flags, it will also reduce the number of excess flag officer jobs in our bloated and top-heavy services.
It also will create in the chain of command above the potential lowlife internal pressures to better police the flag ranks and prevent the loss of a flag billet from the organization. If the bad guy’s boss knows he’s going to lose both the bad guy and his job slot, maybe he’ll pay more attention and be less likely to turn a blind eye to what is, in almost every case, common knowledge within the bad guy’s organization.
Capt. John Byron (USN, ret.) commanded submarines.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |