Friday, July 22, 2011

Posted Comments about the West-Wasserman Squabble Demonstrates How Little the General Public Knows about the Military!

I’m not going to get into the substance of the squabble between Rep. Allen West (R-FL.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) other than to say both are making a ton of money in campaign contributions off it and for Schultz to “play the female victim” here makes her appear a touch “Palin-esque.” What I have noticed from reading the comments and blogs is, if those commenting are any reflection of the military knowledge of the general public, then elimination of the draft has resulted in a military-clueless generation.

Unlike several “experts” opining on the Blogs, I don’t know much about West except I checked and he is definitely on the U.S. Army retired roles in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel so those claiming he resigned in lieu of Court Martial are as ignorant as some in Congress! Other than what I’ve read in the newspapers, I don’t know the true circumstances of his retirement … but, being a retired Army Colonel who has been a convening authority and president of several Courts, I do know a little about Military Law and regulations -- which is something that obviously several of the contributors to this discussion don’t.

The applicable Army Regulation governing a Resignation for the Good of the Service (RFGOS) in Lieu of Court Martial is AR 600-8-24, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3-13, and an officer submitting such a resignation normally receives an Other than Honorable Discharge but regardless of characterization of service, the officer is not authorized to retire nor receives VA benefits with a very few exceptions (e.g. converted life insurance).

Some of the pontificators are probably the very same “military experts” that still believe the Washington myth that former Army Chief of Staff of (& now VA Secretary) GEN Eric Shinseki was fired for standing up to Rumsfeld and challenging the Bush administration over the Iraq War when in truth, he retired after serving every last minute of his full four year term.

After posting this above comment, I received several responses wishing to “correct me” and telling me that “it’s a matter of record that LTC West was given an Article 15 and retired in Lieu of Court Martial.” Once again, this demonstrates the public’s ignorance of Military Law. There is NO provision in law or regulation to even FORCE a service member to accept Non-Judicial Punishment (UP Article 15, UCMJ). Non-judicial punishment is OFFERED to an accused to resolve minor offenses under the UCMJ in lieu of Court Martial but it is an option of the accused to either ACCEPT non-judicial punishment or DEMAND a Court Martial. Once the Article 15 was accepted by LTC West, a RFGOS in Lieu of Court Martial was off the table. Granted, an Article 15 is career ending for an Officer so they normally retire if eligible but they cannot be forced to retire. If the Army really wishes to terminate the Officer, it can begin administrative elimination procedures but this is a whole new action from the non-judicial punishment. Initiation of elimination proceedings might “encourage” a retirement eligible officer to submit for retirement but this is neither a “resignation” or a retirement “in lieu of Court Martial.”

Sometimes it’s best if some people just stick to talking about subjects they know something about.