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Army discloses it has fired 129 battalion and brigade commanders since 2003

The Army told Michelle Tan of the Army Times that since 2003, it has relieved 98 battalion commanders and 31 brigade commanders. It also has relieved 7 general officers since 2008, Tan reported. Why is it disclosing these numbers now? “I think the narrative comes out of many soldiers who rightfully or wrongfully believe that ...

Nellis Aviation Nation 2010
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet 1st Class Alan Wong, with the academy?s parachute team, Wings of Blue, salutes as he exits the back of a C-130 Hercules aircraft during Aviation Nation 2010 over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 14, 2010. The air show provided an opportunity for the Las Vegas community to view aerial demonstrations and static displays of military aircraft. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth, U.S. Air Force/Released)

The Army told Michelle Tan of the Army Times that since 2003, it has relieved 98 battalion commanders and 31 brigade commanders.

It also has relieved 7 general officers since 2008, Tan reported.

Why is it disclosing these numbers now? “I think the narrative comes out of many soldiers who rightfully or wrongfully believe that the Army doesn’t hold senior leaders, senior military officers accountable in the same fashion they hold junior officers or enlisted,” Army Secretary John McHugh told Tan.

OK, making such a disclosure is the first step forward, and it should be applauded.

That said, here are my questions.

–What were they relieved for? Were any relieved for incompetence in combat, or other issues of military effectiveness, rather than personal lapses in behavior, whether in a combat zone or not?

–Why doesn’t the Army disclose details, at the time? Does it not trust the American people with this information? The Navy does disclose this information, so it cannot be a matter of legalities, but rather a matter of Army policy.

–Why do you think this narrative has emerged, Secretary McHugh? Have Army policies played a role, or is it entirely a problem of misperception by soldiers (“different spanks for different ranks”) and the public?

Defense Department Flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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