Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Courts-Martial for Retired Officers

Much thought and ink has been expended of late on the subject of retired military officers speaking their minds on political issues and criticizing the Secretary of Defense. As the debate raged on, this Sailor remained silent because we're only talking about a handful of the over 8,000 retired admirals and generals still on the payroll. Six of 8,000 does not exactly make for a serious mutiny, and that's something a good Chief Petty Officer should be able to put down. So, I let the shouting rage around me and pretended to ignore it, until that is, I really started thinking about it.

Yes, as Fred Kaplan so thoroughly explains, retired officers still receiving pay remain subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and are still subject to the punitive authority of the Secretary of Defense and President. I suppose the rationale for keeping this legal authority in effect after retirement is to prevent high-profile or large groups of retired officers from undermining the authority of the Commander-in-Chief and other high-ranking civilian leaders. It's a civilian control of the military and checks and balances issue, the argument goes. And, that seems to be a completely reasonable goal, to me.

But as retired officers, they aren't subject to the orders of SecDef or the President unless and until they're recalled to active duty, so they're not being disobedient now. In addition, there's no evidence any one of these fine officers ever failed significantly to execute their duties, even when they claim they were in disagreement with the policy. So how, exactly, is civilian control and good order and discipline impacted? Not much, I'd say.

However, if you're one of those who is truly committed to punishing retired officers for calling on Rumsfeld to step aside, then you've got my "go ahead." And I'll even tell you who the first defendent should be: Rep. John Murtha for calling on Sec. Rumsfeld to step down. He is, though retired, still an officer and collecting pay, is he not?