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When I was a young Army E-1, I learned that two of the most dreaded forms that could cross my path were the Statement of Charges and the Report of Survey. The first form was an admission of liability for lost or damaged property (which could range from a blanket to a jeep) and an agreement to pay for it. The second form served to document the circumstances concerning the loss, damage, or destruction of the property. It is the military’s way of saying, “You break it; you bought it”.
During my 27 years in the military, I saw more than a few folks that screwed up and had their monthly checks significantly reduced until the amount of the lost or damaged item had been recouped. If the individal’s ETS occurred before the loss had been paid off, the government was allowed to dog the individual until the charges were paid.
As I was reading my morning newsfeed, I came across a story from DefenseOne that made me think about the enforced accountability that we expect from our troops. I was especially taken by this verbiage:
“The ultimate winner of two decades of war in Afghanistan is likely China. The aircraft and armored vehicles left behind when U.S. forces withdrew will give China-through their eager partners, the Taliban-a broad window into how the U.S. military builds and uses some of its most important tools of war. Expect the Chinese military to use this windfall to create-and export to client states-a new generation of weapons and tactics tailored to U.S. vulnerabilities, said several experts who spent years building, acquiring, and testing some of the equipment that the Taliban now controls.”
As an example, take the simple Humvee; just four wheels and an engine, right? Wrong, very wrong. “It’s not just a Humvee. It’s not just a vehicle that gets you from point A to point B. It’s a Humvee that’s full of radios, technologies, cryptosystems, things we don’t want our adversaries getting a hold of.” But now, our adversaries have a firm hold on it; and they’re not going to let go.
OK, now let’s go back to that E-1. Damage your rifle? Probably an Article 15 plus damages. Lose your night vision goggles? Probably a special court-martial not to mention a hefty fine and loss of rank.
However, if you make decisions that cause billions of dollars of sensitive equipment to be lost to the enemy, you simply shrug your shoulders and move on to your next fiasco. Sound fair? It is if you’re President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Given his overall ignorance concerning military hardware (not to mention his fast-approaching senility, it is possible that Biden could not appreciate the effect of his actions. (I realize I’m cutting him a lot of slack.) However, Austin and Milley do not have a single excuse. At best, their actions were malfeasance; at worst, their behavior was treason.
Because of this, I believe that Austin should be recalled to active duty and that he should join Milley in being court-martialed. They should be just as accountable as any E-1 under their command.Published in