McCain ALWAYS for the troops? Not in my experience
by Carl Nyberg, Sun Jul 27, 2008 at 08:26:24 AM EDT
I was an active duty Navyofficerfor 7 1/2 years from May, 1989 until November, 1996. From August, 1994 until I resigned my commission I was assigned to Navy Recruiting District Chicago. During this time I investigated misconduct by enlisted recruiters and interviewed applicants for Navy ROTC scholarships.
On July 3, 1996, I made a long complaint to the DOD Inspector General. The complaint included numerous allegations of misconduct. The most serious allegations are listed below the fold.
I became concerned (and later convinced) the checks and balances within the military (primarily the "inspector general" system) were ineffective when the chain of command was culpable in allowing the original misconduct. I documented my allegations through the Freedom of Information Act and contacted members of Congress. I contacted my own representatives, but also members of Congress who were in leadership positions on relevant committees. At that time Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was chair of the United States Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
While McCain was not did not completely ignore the issues I raised--he did sent me a letter acknowledging I contacted him--he did nothing useful and showed no interest in the problems in Navy Recruiting Command or more generally in military recruitment.
The more serious allegations I made were:
* NRD Chicago failed to send a required sexual harassment message when a recruiter was accused of raping an applicant who was also a minor.
- Senior officers were abusing the Immediate Scholarship Decision program (nominally intended to increase the number of minority Navy officers) by pressuring junior officers to award Navy ROTC scholarships to their children. Thus a program conceived to increase diversity had the perverse effect of making the officer corps less diverse and more incestuous.
- NRD Chicago's commanding officer and chief recruiter covered-up a recruiter getting one of his applicants pregnant.
- Fraudulent enlistments (especially forged high school diplomas) was widespread and the Career Recruiting Force (CRF) personnel who solicited first-term recruiters to commit fraud were always protected from accountability. The Navy Recruiting Command Inspector General investigation of fraudulent enlistments at NRD Chicago was not a good faith effort to understand and fix the problems.
For a number of years I worked to get coverage for the issues facing military recruitment. I figured if I kept going up the chain of command I'd find someone who cared.
Here are some of the conclusions I developed.
The Secretary of the Navy is a figurehead. His (someday it will be a her) staff isn't big enough to exercise any effective control over the Navy. I'm pretty sure an admiral supervising one battlegroup has more personnel to keep track of things than SECNAV has for his entire staff.
I did raise issues about Navy Recruiting Command when one of Clinton's SECNAV's came to Chicago. The guy was a U.S. Naval Academy grad and an Arkansas banker. Afterwards the weenie flag lieutenant came over and told me it wasn't the right time or place to be raising issues.
I also contacted various members of Congress, mostly from the Illinois delegation. The most helpful: Sen. Paul Simon, Rep. John Porter and Sen. Dick Durbin. The most worthless: Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald and Rep. Danny Davis. Although, eventually Durbin's staff got sick of working on the case. My caseworker's boss said that it just took too much time, so they weren't going to do anything about it after a certain point.
So, when John McCain accuses Sen. Barack Obama of not doing anything for the troops unless the media is paying attention, McCain is making an accusation that is at least partially true of all members of Congress, including himself.
If standing up for the troops means standing against the military beauracracy without getting any credit in the media, members of Congress just don't do this. It's not that they are lazy or evil, it's just that we have a system that doesn't reward Congress critters for standing against the DOD (aka the Military-Industrial Complex).