Rules of engagement that risk the lives of our forces and harsh punishments over questionable charges have America’s elite Green Berets fuming at the Obama administration, and the former commander of all Green Berets says it’s just the latest symptoms of a military deliberately weakened by this administration military official more concerned about advancement than the good of their forces and their nation.
The litany of Green Beret frustration was detailed this week by the Washington Times. The piece detailed several questionable punishments for elite service members over incidents that never resulted in formal charges.
Army Secretary John McHugh stripped Maj. Matt Golsteyn of a Silver Star for killing a Taliban bomb maker who took many U.S. lives. McHugh contends there is probable cause to believe Golsteyn committed murder, even though Golsteyn was cleared by the military.
Lt. Col. Jason Amerine shared his concerns about a flawed hostage rescue program with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. When the FBI looked into it, officials there reported Amerine to the Army, which opened a criminal investigation on Amerine, because they suspected he transmitted classified information. No evidence was ever found to support such a charge.
The most highly publicized case in recent weeks centers on Sgt. Charles Martland, who is being expelled from the Army for roughing up an Afghan Local Police Commander after a mother and son told troops the police official raped the 12-year-old boy and assaulted the mother.
The Times also quotes former Green Beret Danny Quinn, who quit the military because of how politicians and bureaucrats were punishing troops and tying their hands in theater.
“Cases like these certainly have an adverse effect on a Special Forces soldier’s psyche,” Quinn said in the article. “It creates a mentality of playing not to lose versus playing to win. Soldiers feel like their leadership, lieutenant colonel and above, won’t support them, regardless of what they’ve done in that career to that point and what situation they’re currently in.”
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin commanded all Green Berets for a portion of his 36 years in uniform. He says conditions and morale for our military are even worse than the Times and Quinn stated.
“There’s more that hasn’t been reported in terms of the kinds of things our special forces are putting up with now, to include rules of engagement for example. They make it virtually impossible for them to succeed and, in many cases, even to protect themselves and the people they are responsible for,” said Boykin.
Boykin places much of the blame for this shoddy treatment of our service members at the feet of President Obama, but he says another group also shoulders a great deal of responsibility for our military decline.
“I am so disappointed in the Army leadership and the leadership in general in our military right now because they have allowed the social experimentation that has had such a devastating impact on our military,” said Boykin, who says weakening and transforming our military is a critical step in Obama’s efforts to change America.
“You can’t change society unless you change the military, because the military is such an anchor of our society in terms of values,” he said.
When it comes to the poor leadership of military leaders, Boykin says it is evident in multiple ways, starting with policy.
“The service chiefs have supported these major budget cuts as well as sequestration. They have now, essentially, an all-out assault on religious liberty within the military, where people, including chaplains, are being punished for exercising their first amendment rights of freedom of religion,” said Boykin.
The general says he is disgusted by departing defense secretaries like Leon Panetta and Robert Gates who offered critical reviews of the administration on various issues but never confronted Obama when they had the power to do so. Boykin believes the proper reaction of military officers to the Obama military agenda should have been obvious.
“If they really object to what’s going on, they should stand up and say so. They should put their stars on the table and be prepared to resign as a result of not being able to support the direction our military is taking our military,” he said.
How did the military drift to the point where the top brass is now content to endorse rules of engagement that leave troops exposed and punish members for actions that merit no official charges?
“The president came in with an agenda. He sought out, I believe, people that could be put into senior positions that were willing to support that agenda. Either they were aligned with him ideologically, which I don’t think is the case most of the time, or they were so focused or careerism that they have been unwilling to step up and be counted,” said Boykin.
November 2016 will be a critical time for the military, according to Boykin. He says electing a strong leader as commander-in-chief could reverse a lot of what’s gone wrong in the military over the past several years, but he fears some of the changes are here to stay.
“It’s going to take at least a decade for us to be able to turn this around. That’s assuming we get a good commander-in-chief in who’s got some leadership and who wants to change it. But there are some things that are not going to change. You’re not going to roll back some of the social policies that have been implemented under this president,” said Boykin.
Boykin says he is concerned for the future of the military and the United States. He is especially worried that the absence of leadership among the highest-ranking officers is leaving young service members with no one worth emulating.
“One of the things that I fear most is when you look at the young officers in the military today, who should be looking up to proven combat leaders, who have a proven record of leading men and women in combat,” said Boykin.
“Instead of looking at them, they’re looking at careerists. They’re looking at people who have compromised on very important and fundamental issues. All these young leaders see that and know that. What are we raising? Are we raising a generation of young leaders who will ultimately be great combat leaders and great warriors, or are we raising a generation now that is going to be focused on careerism?” he asked.
“I am afraid and very concerned it will be the latter,” said Boykin.