- Jul 14, 2019
- "Out where the desert meets the sky"
The number of command programs has exploded as well. All of them inspected annually. There is way more bureaucracy across all command functions than there used to be.#FAFO
Commanding a squadron or ship must be the highest of highs coupled with the knowledge than the wrong word can lead to a relief of command.
Imagine the Navy saying you've earned the right to command a strike fighter squadron, but knowing you're on the razor's edge if something goes wrong. That is terrifying and...how do you shrink away from the challenge?
Amidst all of that you're taking that squadron to war?
O-5's across the services have faced that for the last 20 years. Whatever my complaints, gripes, and outright criticism of the military...strong work. Props to those who brought their people home.
... the release had been stripped of any explanation for the relief of command and offered only “lost trust and confidence”—a term all too common to reporters who cover the military. It’s often used as a catchall when a top commander has been removed from a post as a way to avoid details, even if those details are publicly reportable, as is the case with domestic violence.
The War Horse found that since 2013, at least 13 senior Army officers have been relieved for “loss of trust and confidence” following myriad unauthorized or illegal behaviors. A lieutenant general plagiarised essays at a military school. Two major generals were relieved for failing to properly handle reports of sexual assault. At least three brigadier generals were also removed: one for unknown reasons, one for poor performance, and one for disrespecting subordinates. In another case, a colonel provided free medical care to unauthorized civilians. The details were withheld for at least three other colonels relieved of their commands. Many of the officers appear to still be serving on active duty.
The War Horse identified at least 29 relieved Air Force commanders during this investigation. Two lieutenant colonels were fired for hazing. Two major generals were fired, one for an unprofessional relationship and the other for unspecified allegations of misconduct. A third major general, the service’s highest-ranking female fighter pilot, was fired for fostering a “toxic” unit climate. One of them, a brigadier general who was relieved for allegedly abusing her position of authority at the Air Force Academy, now serves as the chief of staff for the Space Force.
The War Horse also identified at least 41 Navy commanders. Twelve were captains and five were admirals. Among those cases, an admiral was fired for an “inappropriate relationship” with another sailor, a senior officer lied repeatedly about the location of his vessel, and another lied to military investigators. In August 2019 alone, five of the Navy’s most senior officers were fired for unknown, “unrelated” reasons. In the majority of cases, the government restricted information that shows whether the firings were for misconduct or poor performance. Most recently, the Navy declined to release information to a news outlet following the controversial relief of a senior fleet commander. Even though the news outlet Task and Purpose requested the information, military officials determined the journalist was not “a person primarily engaged in disseminating information to the public” and that the information he had requested was not “urgent to inform the public about an actual or alleged federal government activity.”
In addition to withholding information, there are also recent instances of service members violating civil rights, including officials blocking public social media comments about military sexual assault and war crimes, and routinely denying lawful requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Zavala case is interesting because as I understand it the allegations were never proven and there was no evidence such as photographs or police reports to back up his ex wife’s allegations. I don’t think it went to trial and Zavala was never charged with any crimes for it. It seems that in these cases though you are presumed guilty before being found innocent unfortunately. I think that’s part of why the military obfuscates the reason for relief sometimes. These are very public events and the threshold for evidence is very low. That said he could also be guilty of those crimes. We will never know for sure but either way he received a form of sentencing.The prevalence of firings on "loss of trust and confidence" reminds me of this article from The Warhorse.
It details a specific instance of the Marines using the phrase with a Lt. Col fired for being charged with DV.
They also do a quick run down of a bunch of the (semi) recent firings across the force that were for "loss of trust and confidence" and highlight some of the actual reasons people were removed.
The Zavala case is interesting because as I understand it the allegations were never proven and there was no evidence such as photographs or police reports to back up his ex wife’s allegations. I don’t think it went to trial and Zavala was never charged with any crimes for it. It seems that in these cases though you are presumed guilty before being found innocent unfortunately. I think that’s part of why the military obfuscates the reason for relief sometimes. These are very public events and the threshold for evidence is very low.