The military was highly politicized during the Vietnam War, and our troops were the worse for it. Instead of learning the hard lessons taught by the mistakes of the 1960s and early 70s, our military has undergone another wave of politicization during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and our troops are once again suffering because of it.
By its very nature, this politicization focuses a lot of power into a very limited number of decision makers’ hands in DC, who then spread that power through a handful of commanders they’ve accepted into their circles. As a result, an arrogance has arisen that is literally crippling portions of our military command.
Such commanders are falling in ways once reserved for TV preachers. And while David Petraeus may be the most recent (and the most infamous), he is by no means alone.
Consider these examples:
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a married former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Command in Afghanistan, became involved with five women [and] is under investigation after being accused of adultery, sexual misconduct, and forcible sodomy.
Col. James H. Johnson III, former commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Iraq, [became] involved in a bigamous relationship with an Iraqi woman [and] was attempting to steer government contracts to her father.
The Navy has been forced to relieve 60 senior officers from command in the past three years. [This] represents a 40% rise over the previous three-year-period.
And the list goes on, including another general recently found to have sent thousands of explicit emails to his female love interest.
Some are suggesting that the way to fix this problem is to end the War on Terror as a military action, and run it instead as a police action, but that will not solve these problems. Rather, it will only redirect the focus of politicized powers from a handful of military officers to a handful of police commissions and intelligence directors.
The more trustworthy answer must include steps to de-politicize the military, which should include limiting the role of non-military personnel in war fighting decisions. Until then, we will continue destroying our military one command at a time.