Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Published in USA TODAY August 5th, 2010

Leaders, rules add to Army troubles

In USA today's article about the Army's suicide crisis, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, said commanders might let an arrest for drunken driving go unpunished to allow a soldier to go to war (“Leaders criticized in Army suicides,” News Friday)
Of the commanders of the 25,283 soldiers who had committed violations that could have resulted in a discharge from the Army, how many were reprimanded or relieved as a result of their choice to allow these “high-risk” soldiers to remain? Senior leaders condoned this dereliction of duty and now sanctimoniously criticize it with a wink.
The Army study about the suicide rate implies that leaders do not “know” their soldiers well enough to identify their high-risk behaviors or their propensity to commit suicide.
I find this view ironic at best and hypocritical at worst in light of the Army's “don't ask don't tell” policy. The policy specifically precludes frontline leaders from knowing something as basic as the sexual orientation of the soldiers they have the privilege of leading.
The Army has serious problems that won't be solved by poor discipline on the part of senior leaders or policies based on lies of omission.

Dennis Laich
Major General, US Army retired
Powell, Ohio

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