There Is No “Purge” Going On in the Miitary


Over the past months and weeks I get at least one eMail or Social Media post a day about the “incredible number of Generals fired by Obama.”

I’ll accept that the number seems a bit high, but I question the conclusion that it “must be an Obama purge” of the military. A “spotless record” is not an automatic indicator of a highly successful and brilliant military leader. In point of fact, the last place I would look to determine a military leaders value as a leader is their service record. During my own service I can tell you that virtually every Petty Officer in my command received the same numerical marks, the difference was in the “written” comments, which technically weren’t part of the score. So in other words, a Sailor who was perhaps a little frumpy or tardy, would be noted as such in the comments (in the most polite way possible), but would generally receive marks of 3.8-4.0, just like everybody else. This was exacerbated ate in my career by the added process of “ranking” Petty Officers, which essentially meant that if you were not ranked #1, your career was in serious jeopardy.

In short, the only thing that mattered in the evaluations (record) was the ranking. If you were #3 of #25, that was one thing, but to be ranked #3 of 3 – even if you were a 4.0 technician and sailor could be devastating.

So the matter of all these Generals and Admirals and other officers being “purged” causes me to take a look at it through a much different lens, not necessarily an assumption that high quality spotless recorded Generals are being shit canned.  I find myself wondering if there isn’t a rampant case of “record inflation” in the military, in which we see men and women receiving higher marks and/or awards that under normal circumstances wouldn’t be present?

So I decided to look at a random sampling of the officers on the “terrifying list” of “purged officers” and see what I could find. I have no access to any classified or official records, only the publically disseminated information. From this I can draw some conclusions:

  • General John R. Allen (USMC), chose to retire for “family reasons” when nominated as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (i.e., Eisenhower’s old job). In February of 2013 his wife fell seriously ill, and he chose to retire. Hardly the stuff of a “purge,” unless you’re willing to accept that the Administration made his wife sick to get rid of him?

  • Lt General David Huntoon, USA. – Allowed to retire after investigation into misconduct while commanding West Point. A former aide to General Omar Bradly, Charles Honeycutt said of Huntoon: “It’s an outrage that someone like him (Huntoon) could ever achieve three-star rank, much less become a flag officer. There’s many a major general at Arlington National Cemetery spinning in his grave tonight at the thought the likes of Huntoon could rise to such a lofty height. I can tell you this, and I was privileged to know many outstanding general officers, Huntoon doesn’t deserve a promotion.” After the investigation determined that he had misused his position, he was allowed to retire. You or I would be in jail.

  • Colonel Daren Margolin – Commander Security Detail Quantico – relieved after his weapon accidently discharged – “didn’t know” it was loaded. He violated base regulations by taking his personal weapon into his office to clean it. When he aimed it at the floor and pulled the trigger, it discharged. Again, do you know a Marine or two? Does that sound like some vast left wing conspiracy to get rid of him? Or more like an inattentive to detail, not following orders (enough right there?) Officer. There’s an old Navy saying, “One “Oh Shit,” wipes out a thousand “Atta Boys!””

  • Rear Admiral Charles Gaoutte – Commander Stennis Strike Group – relieved and sent home from the middle east after he used inappropriate language in a public setting, denigrated fellow Navy officers and made racially insensitive comments. A “he said, he said” case over the Admirals correcting of a Junior Officer who tried to point out and correct his behavior. Might not seem like much in the big scheme of things, and maybe I wouldn’t have relieved him, but the Navy is nothing if not traditionalist, including books for Officers and enlisted about how to properly behave*. He was cleared of the charges, but to his credit, took full responsibility for his actions that “placed the Navy in this position.” Did the Administration make him curse a fellow officer?

  • Lt. Cmdr. Martin Holguin – Commander, MCM Fearless Crew – loss of confidence in his ability to command. If you’ve ever served on a ship or in a unit, you know what that means. If not, what I can tell you is that the Captain IS the ship/unit. And if the ship/unit performs badly, HE is responsible. Again, what are the odds that the Administration cares about the commander of a Mine Countermeasures Unit to the point of causing his unit to screw up badly enough to get him relieved? (By the by, he has his own website)

Do you see my point in all of this? These are just a few of the names on the list. If I had time, I’d go through all of them and I guarantee that virtually all of them are similar stories. Military leaders are people too, they have faults and flaws that can make them failures or can even make them stronger, depending on how they deal with them and the examples they set for their commands.

We have a lot of crap to worry about with regards to the military, but a “purge” isn’t one of them.

*By the by, if you have ever had an etiquette question – military or civilian – or or unsure how to behave in specific social scenarios, the Service Etiquette guide is simply the BEST book available. It will make you a better behaved person in all circumstances and will save your bacon at least once n your life.

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About Dave

Talk Show host, lifelong Baseball and Star Trek fan, US Navy Submariner and Fire Control Technician (Ballistic Missile) 1st Class Petty Officer (Submarine Qualified), Dave is married with four daughters, one son, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren plus one on the way. He resides quietly in Manteca, CA, where he records his podcast, Plausibly Live, three days a week. He also writes for several other blogs and as a "Stay at home Dad" plays a lot of games with his son. Dave loves books, history and is learning to weld and drive a forklift. Just for fun. Dave is also a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and a Member of the US Submarine Veterans.

Posted on December 17, 2013, in US Army, US Navy, USMC and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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