Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marine stars rise as Army stars fall

President Obama has nominated Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. Forces and NATO International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan to succeed Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis as the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command in the spring. “For more than a year, General Allen has served with distinction … seeing us through a critical period in our military efforts and in Afghanistan’s transition,” the president said in a statement. “I have personally relied on his counsel and am grateful for his devotion to our national security and to the safety of the men and women with whom he serves. Under General Allen’s command, we have made important progress towards our core goal of defeating al Qaida and ensuring they can never return to a sovereign Afghanistan. Working with our Afghan partners and international civilians, the forces under General Allen’s command have moved forward with a transition to Afghan Security Forces, who will take the lead for security across the country next year.”

General Allen [L], SecDef Panetta [C] and General Dunford [R]
The president also nominated a successor for Allen, the current Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Dunford “…is combat-tested. He believes in ISAF, and if confirmed, will be an extraordinary leader of it. … and will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security.” “Fighting Joe” Dunford led Regimental Combat Team 5 during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, I MEF at Pendleton and MARCENT before being elevated to the USMC’s #2 officer in 2010. While he has not served a combat tour in Afghanistan, he tracked combat operations while commanding MARCENT and is described by colleagues as intelligent, decisive and someone who can get the job done.

While Allen has been approved by NATO already, both his and Dunford’s nominations must be confirmed by the Senate to take effect. Lieutenant Generals John Paxton, George Flynn and Robert Schmidle are rumoured to be in the running to succeed General Dunford.

In contrast there is less fortunate news reported for some U.S. Army generals this month; General William “Kip” Ward former head of U.S. Africa Command is accused of spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses according to an Inspector General’s report. The report found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refuelling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The report detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for the 4-Star, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he travelled to Washington. It also said Ward and his wife accepted dinner and Broadway show tickets from a government contractor during a trip during which he went backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington. The couple and several staff members also spent two nights at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Officials have argued that the allegations made against Ward in report were very serious and that senior officers need to be held accountable. Panetta's options regarding Ward are limited however, he can only demote Ward and force him to retire as a three-star lieutenant general costing Ward nearly $30,000 a year in retirement pay.

General Ward [L] and Brigadider General Sinclair [R]
Elsewhere, Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, former 82nd Airborne Division's deputy commanding general for support in southern Afghanistan, stands accused of forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, violating general orders by possessing alcohol and pornography while deployed, mistreating subordinates, filing fraudulent claims, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. Under military law, he may be able to ask the secretary of the Army for permission to retire rather than face possible court-martial. “Often, leadership elects to punish an officer outside of a court-martial,” said Lt.Col. Victor Hansen, a retired JAG lawyer said, “but the announcement of the charges against Sinclair shows investigators are taking this case seriously.”

Sources: Stars & Stripes / Military.com / Defense.gov

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