Scuttle The Navy Secretary? Aye, Aye, Sir!
This kafuffle over a Navy SEAL rouses memories. Of dirty dishes, a dumb commodore and military injustice.
The kafuffle is this: Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was charged with several war crimes. He was tried by the Navy. The Navy found him innocent. Except for a minor infraction.
There were countless indications that Gallagher was railroaded. President Trump pardoned Gallagher. Ordered that his previous rank and benefits be restored. This ticked off senior Navy officers. And apparently the Secretary of the Navy. The senior guys retaliated. They took away Gallagher’s prized SEAL Trident pin. So there! Mr. President. Trump gave it back to him.
This ticked them off even more. They resisted their president’s orders. The Secretary of the Navy pushed back against his president. And so, his president sacked him.
The fired Secretary then blustered about how wrong his president was. That he did not understand military justice. That he was wrecking the military system. Lots of bobbing head Trump-haters, columnists and editorial writers joined in the gnashing and bashing.
Bottom line is that the Secretary is out of a job. And a lowly enlisted man got back his pin, benefits and honor.
Does this have to do with the fact that SEALs go through the most difficult mental and physical training on earth? And that they take on the most dangerous assignments? And that Gallagher is paid very little. And that he was a lowly enlisted guy facing the wrath of the officer corps, multiple admirals and even the Navy Secretary? Maybe.
I don’t know. I do know a lot of lowly enlisted men and women cheered the presidential pardon. They know that enlisted guys too often get the shaft that officers avoid.
I also know the mess revived several memories.
I was a kid washing dishes. My father told me to do the glasses first, then the silverware. For some stupid reason I complained. Fatally, I whined “But why do I have to do it this way? Why?” My father brought his face to within a whisker of mine. “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”
This was a pretty good reminder of two things: Our family had a chain of command. And when the person at the top ordered you to do something you did it. Period.
I served in the Navy. As an enlisted man like Gallagher. I served on the staff of a very senior officer, a commodore. Along with a bunch of officers.
The commodore was a dud. An ego-centric boob. His officers knew he was and grumbled. The enlisted men knew he was and scoffed. But we all knew he was the boss. Them’s the rules in the military.
If he ordered us to do something stupid we did it. If we did not, we faced court-martial. You may think that was a ridiculous system. But it is what we signed on for. It is the mortar, the super-glue, that holds the military together in peace and war. It prevents mutinies.
Rule One is that you obey senior officers. If you cannot live with that, revert to Rule One. Or ask for a discharge.
At one point a petty officer two stripes above me accused me of something I did not do. He goofed. He reported me to an officer. The officer canceled my weekend leave.
I appealed to the officer. Proved to him that the petty officer was wrong. The petty officer had left for the weekend, so the officer could not show him my evidence. And so…he told me he believed me. But without the petty officer’s further word he left the canceled weekend in place.
He explained to me that he had to show respect for the chain of command.
General Douglas McArthur was a hero of WWII. He then commanded our troops in the Korean War. He showed dis-respect for President Truman. In various ways. Finally, he publicly disagreed with Truman’s war policies. And so Truman fired the hero.
A good chunk of the country screamed HOW DARE HE! (Truman had more haters than Trump. True! His approval ratings were around only 25 percent.) But Truman knew history. He knew our Constitution. He was dead right. Just as Trump is dead right to fire his Secretary of the Navy.
McArthur resisted and dis-obeyed his Commander-in-Chief. The Secretary resisted and schemed against his. Both needed to go.
Both men felt they were above the system. We cannot have this. Not if we wish to have an excellent and reliable military. We cannot have it at the level of the Secretary. Nor at the level of a commodore’s staff. Nor at the level of a petty officer who makes a mistake.
Of all people, our Secretary of the Navy should have known this absolutely. His latest complaints tell us he feels he was right. He is like the bureaucrats paraded before the impeachment inquisition. All of them feel they know better than their president. And that therefore, their feelings and opinions should rule.
Those who appreciate the Constitution and the rules that govern our military feel the Secretary is a fool. One who deserved to be deep-sixed, if not yard-armed.
From Tom…as in Morgan.