Background: See the following link to Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_E._Ward for a very good run down of his impressive and distinguished career.
But his career is not the central fact in his current situation, General Ward is under investigation for numerous allegations the he spent or authorized the spending of several hundred thousand dollars allowing unauthorized individuals including family members to fly on aircraft operated by or for the United States Government, and spent or authorized the expenditure of excessive amounts of funds on travel expenses, and or failed to follow DOD policies and procedure in the spending or authorizing of these expenditures. Additional he spent or authorized the expenditure of excessive amount of funds on other uncategorized activities.
These charges were serious enough that The Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Defense conducted a 17 Month investigation into the allegations and forwarded a 99 Page report with recommendations to the Secretary of the Army for his consideration and “appropriate action”. The Secretary of the Army recommendation of “appropriate action” is unknown, but the report and the Secretary of the Army recommended “appropriate action” was forwarded to the Secretary of Defense, for his decision on the matter. The matter currently resides in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Recently The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey has voiced his opinion that General Ward should not be punished and be allowed to retire with the Rank of General. General Dempsey is not in General Wards direct chain of command, since the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not exercise any direct operational command function, they are theoretically an advisory group to advise the President and the Secretary of Defense on Policy matters, he can therefore voice his opinion.
To me General Dempsey pronouncement is a trial balloon to see how and if the American People, Member of Congress, and the Members of the United States Armed Forces will react to the possibility that General Ward will be allowed to skip on these charges.
If this were a lowly solider, sailor, airman, or marine and comparable charges had been alleged and the required UMCJ investigations had be held, that poor unfortunate soul would be lucky if they let them out of the service with anything less than a Bad Conduct Discharge. If they were unlucky enough to get a Bad Conduct Discharge and if the maximum sentence that could be assigned to the charges exceed 1 year of confinement then this individual would gain the additional benefit of have to report that they have felon conviction on their record.
If General Ward is allowed to skip on these charges and retire at his last highest held grade (General) it sends a message that there is at least a two tier, if not three a tier justice system in the Department of Defense. It would announce that there is justice system for Flag Grade Officers, and a justice system for the all of the other military personnel. Some will argue that there are in fact three tiers in the UMCJ as it is currently practiced. One tier for Flag Grade Officers, Another tier for Senior NCO, Warrant Officers, Company Grade Officers, and Field Grade Officers, and a third tier for lower grade NCO and enlisted personnel.
There is a series of public announcement spots on the Armed Forces Network, called “That not what right looks like” which are attempts to highlight daily situations were personal integrity, or walking the talk are important to an individual, especially when that individual is in some type of leadership position. The troops are not dumb, they watch their leadership, the have their leaders disconnects between words and deeds memorized. Just sit in a DFAC and listen to some of the conversations, it can be a truly mind altering experience.
If General Ward is allowed to skip and retire with out any consequences, and to this writer that is what it appears to be happening, then the Department of Defense should save taxpayers money and stop playing lip service to “That not what right looks like”, and a host of other public announcements that are dispensed to members of the armed forces
If General Ward is allowed to skip, it will be another rock added to officers who have displayed lack of integrity and corruption pile. It could be a sign to other that this behavior is acceptable. Yes, it was just a little over the line, after a while there is no line, then what.
When the troops do not believe their officers, they will not follow them. We do not want that to happen with our United State Military, but it could and General Ward’s case could just be the start of our journey down that slippery slope, then again we could already be some distance down that slope.
Please note that individuals in the Operational Chain of Command, and General Ward’s chain of command have not voiced any public opinions of this matter, for it would be criminal on their part to do so.
To Secretary of Defense, by allowing General Ward to have his day in court so sunlight can be shown on the charges, the evidence, and the verdict could go some distance in reestablishing confidence in the system, after all it is said that “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant” Louis Brandeis.
General Ward has a great deal to risk by having his day in court, he could be found guilty of all or some of the charges and specifications, and if found guilty he could face the full extent of punishment that the law allows, and could end up with nothing. But by the same token he has a great deal to gain by having his day in court, he could forever remove the blotch on his distinguished career.
General Ward could go silently into the night and accept a retirement at a lower grade, but this could result in the placement of an asterisk by his name, like with baseball statistic where the use of drugs was suspected in enhancing a player performance.
If General Ward does not want his day in court to refute the allegations, and clear his besmirched name then the Secretary of Defense must not reward him by allowing him to retire at his highest grade of rank.
Enlist Personnel and Officers of the United States Armed Forces should to be held to higher standards then the ordinary American citizen. Officers should be held to higher standard then members of the enlisted ranks. Flag officers should be held to higher standards than members of the company and field grade officer corps. Flag officers are the leaders of the armed forces leadership. If any individuals’ actions should be circumspect it should be these individuals for who the United States Government has appointed and entrusted the lives of citizens to.