Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In the Sandbox...

Officers Protect Their Own

"Why is an officer’s career more important to protect than an enlisted soldier’s career?

I’m referring to the officer corps protecting its own and sticking it to the enlisted, when either has violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I’m talking about a commissioned officer-operated justice system showing bias toward its own.

An example of that is a chief warrant officer 3 who was convicted of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty who got off with a reprimand, some loss of pay and 60 days’ restriction (“No jail for soldier who suffocated Iraqi, article, The Associated Press, Jan. 26). No discharge and no prison. Then, an E-5 received 6 months’ confinement, was reduced to E-1 and can face discharge for punching an Afghan prisoner several times on his side and arm while confined (“Second GI sentenced in abuse of Afghans,” article, The Associated Press, Feb. 1). Enlisted assault gets six months’ prison/full reduction vs. commissioned manslaughter (second-degree murder) gets no jail time and no reduction. Why the gross difference?

Another example I hate to bring up is Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Why is it that an E-6 can get a two-year sentence for “dereliction of duty” for failure to monitor his subordinates? Yet, his platoon leader, company and battalion commander walked away with only an administrative action. No UCMJ. If you don’t think that “the O-Club” group didn’t protect them from the UCMJ proceedings, then you probably think Saddam Hussein is just misunderstood.

So, why are the enlisted soldiers found guilty held responsible for their actions and officers who supposedly are held to a higher standard as “officers and gentlemen" and superiors allowed to be above the standards of punishment for violations of the UCMJ?

The Army has numerous checks and balances for nearly every aspect of duty, except UCMJ. Maybe it’s finally time to check and balance out this discrepancy, too."

--Sgt. 1st Class Troy Harskjold, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (Stars & Stripes: Letters to the Editor)

...the girls of the Reserves and the Guard...
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six

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