Generals need ethics training?

| December 7, 2012

The Washington Times reports that Big Army has decided that the problem with generals is that they need more training on how they should be ethical;

The Pentagon on Friday released the preliminary findings by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta ordered the review of ethics training for generals after several senior officers were investigated this year for ethical misconduct, and he discussed the findings with President Obama during a regularly scheduled meeting earlier this week.

Yeah, that’s just horseshit. Generals know that they shouldn’t be boinking their biographers (Petraeus), spending tax payer dollars on their personal transportation (Ward), raping subordinates (Sinclair), bullying their staff (O’Reilly), and flirting with socialites while they’re supposed to be fighting a war against terror (Allen). If they don’t know better, they have no business being generals and no amount of training will get that devil out of them.

The problem is that they’re selecting the wrong people to be generals. And they’re covering up for each other when they’re being bad. Again, no amount of slideshow presentations will cure that.

Of course, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey arriving at that half-assed conclusion doesn’t surprise me. He knows as much about leadership as I know about commodities brokering. “More training” is his answer to everything. Remember, his solution to the green-on-blue attacks was cultural sensitivity training – his solution was not allowing the troops to arm themselves in combat. Dempsey is just covering up for generals.

Dempsey can start cleaning up this mess by resigning and just go away to wherever career pogues go when they’ve outlived their usefulness. if Dempsey ever did anything useful.

Category: Big Army

Comments (32)

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  1. SGT Ted says:

    The O-Grade Mafia has been alive and well for many decades. They will go after NCOs with hammers and tongs but will make their best effort to overlook, excuse or cover up similar behavior when committed by Officers. Once you’ve see it in action, it completely changes how you view the entire leadership chain.

  2. DaveA says:

    Well said goes hand in hand with SMA Chandler saying they may have promoted NCO’s to fast and we need to start enforcing the standards, dipstick was a member of the up and coming class of SNCO’s and did nothing to stop the so called detereation (sp) of the standards. They were always there you( Chandler) chose not to enforce them

  3. FatCircles0311 says:

    So let me get this straight. Ethics is the knowing between right and wrong which they clearly understand so the solution to morals(actually acting upon those ethics) is to teach them ethics instead of you know, perhaps HOLDING THEM ACCOUNTABLE for their moral failings.

    DoD needs to drastically cut the officer ranks anyway. Gone are the involuntary serfdom illiterate armies of the past. All I saw regarding officers in my infantry battalion was worthless redundancy disguised as “leadership” but only if something went right. If it went the other way it was the enlisted man’s fault, entirely.

  4. Vic Ray says:

    You’re way past being right. The problem with generals and admirals is they’re politicians the secon the first star goes on and they cease being Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

  5. Hondo says:

    Have to agree, Jonn. If people are pinning on stars who need additional ethics training – the wrong people are pinning on stars.

  6. Nicki says:

    Oh, good lord. It’s like when one of the CG’s PSD guys got drunk and shot his buddy, causing him to be MEDEVACed to Landstuhl on our deployment, and the leadership’s solution was to make us all clear our weapons in the barrel the next day to ensure we knew how to do it. WTF?????????

  7. Toothless Dawg says:

    Received an email when the Petraeus thing started to break. Something along the lines of, “It appears too many Generals are taking orders from their Privates”. That’s they way its always been and probably always will be …

  8. Scott says:

    I have to agree with you. When my father was CO of a cruiser he wouldn’t stop at the commissary if he had a driver on the way home because it was not authorized. They know better, and if they don’t they shouldn’t have stars…

  9. melle1228 says:

    The problem is that generals are powerful and power does corrupt. You can see this in any occupation. If you haven’t learned at the rank of general that it is unethical to cheat on your spouse of 38 years; you ain’t never going to learn that.

  10. Just Plain Jason says:

    How about when they are LTs making sure they aren’t fuckups then when they advance don’t encourage the fuckups to stay and the good ones to get out….that might change things.

  11. martinjmpr says:

    I’m sure that with enough power point slides and reflective PT belts, this problem can be corrected (rolling eyes.)

    In all seriousness, military flag officers, particularly on a deployment to another country, have a level of absolute power and freedom from accountability that is akin to that of a medieval prince. So it’s probably not surprising when they start to act like the rules are for other people.

    Reminds me of an old (probably gramattically incorrect) latin phrase I heard once: “Lex Bovis, Non Jovis” (The Law is for Cattle, and not for the Gods.)

  12. Ex-PH2 says:

    It took me a while to interpret the message in the article but after some contemplation, I figured it out.

    You want people with morals and commons sense in charge.

    Yeah, good luck with that. I think the last practitioners of that are limited to us old fogeys.

  13. Sig says:

    Everyone over O5 needs a seasoned E6 to follow them around with a wiffle bat and administer as needed. *whap* “NO, sir, bad idea.” Also a shotgun in case the good idea fairy shows.

  14. DaveO says:

    Just a thought:

    Ethics regulation during the pre-atheist, Judeo-Christian era of service was 50 pages: the Ten Commandments with 49 pages of scenarios.

    Ethics regulation during the pro-atheist post-modern era of service (today) is over 4,000 pages and each post/major command has at least one JAG officer detailed to research the JER.

    If anyone here can strictly follow, with perfection, the 4,000 pages of rules in a strictly rule-based climate – be my guest.

    Even Moses failed and was denied entry into the Land of Milk and Honey for breaking a rule. There are no American flag officers living or dead who’ve risen to Moses’s stature.

  15. BCousins says:

    They already know better before they are selected for general officer. Then they are extensively trained in “charm school” about what to expect with their newly gained power and influence and how to handle it. Some of them just don’t care.
    Here is a link to a pretty decent article about it in Foreign Policy magazine,

  16. Hondo says:

    Sig: that’s what MSGs/1SGs and SGMs/CSMs are supposed to do – along with XOs/deputies. Unfortunately, many assigned to such positions seem to be unable or unwilling to do that part of their job.

    DaveO: what you say is true. And it’s also utterly irrelevant.

    The examples Jonn gave aren’t the military equivalent of a technical violation of some obscure MCAA rule (like making a phone call to a recruit on the wrong date). Rather, they’re things any SGT, WO1, or 2LT worth a shit already knows are just plain wrong – as well as being monumentally bad ideas.

    Common sense is not common. Unfortunately it also seems sometimes to be lacking, temporarily or permanently, in some members of our senior leadership.

  17. Stu says:

    Just bust a few down to NCO, but that would degrade the NCO Corps. How about break their sword and send them packing in the desert without a horse, oh that was TV show wasn’t it?

  18. Just Plain Jason says:

    Sig I think has it right…Officers do not need to be allowed to be unsupervised without an NCO e-5 or e-6 much higher they start losing their common sense…

  19. Hondo says:

    Just Plain Jason: I’d have to disagree. Some of the best grounded folks I ever served with were in the enlisted grades E7-E9.

    Unfortunately, there were also a fair number of fools and tools I served with who held those grades. Including one who couldn’t keep his fly zipped – and ended up relieved for cause as a result.

  20. PavePusher says:

    Oh come on, a PowerPoint presentation or a CBT will surely fix this issue!


  21. pete says:

    Patton is rolling in his grave again!

  22. Devtun says:

    I seem to remember reading about a few GOs, COLs ,and even a former asst Secy of Defense crash and burn over….shoplifting. Stuff totaling less than a hundred bucks at PX or Wally world…add kleptomania to the powerpoint slides just to be safe.

  23. Rindvieh says:

    A 1SG once commented to me that if you lock 10 generals in a room together within 30 minutes at least 6 of them will start acting like privates

  24. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Yeah, Clinton’s first Secretary of the Army was arrested for shoplifting at the Ft Meyers PX. So he got fired but they kept him on the payroll as a consultant.

  25. Mike Kozlowski says:

    …I have said this before and I will say it again: when an 0-10 goes to JAIL and loses everything, this will cure right quickly.


  26. Devtun says:


    Hell, no 0-7 baby G has ever been sent to the stockade. Well in the movie “The Castle” a 3 star G gets sent to the Pen and then gets tormented by a sadistic Bird COL prison warden…just Hollywood fantasy of course.

    We’ll have to see what happens to BG Sinclair…that guy is in some serious kim chee.

  27. Devtun says:

    Correction @26, I meant the movie “The Last Castle” starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini “The Sopranos”.

  28. Cajun says:

    I’d care less about the shenanigans if senior leadership would follow FM 7-8 and practice some friggin TLPs like the 1/3-2/3 instead of the 3 shop being the perpetual “hey you” machine.

    When I was in a BCT at Ft. Carson that I will not specify, the Brigade staff pounded and pushed the “Toxic Leadership” article as required reading and held multiple OPD/NCOPDs on it. The sad/funny part was that it was being pushed by the worst offenders!

  29. Being older than just about everyone here, I remember…..
    When the Rules of Engagement were- “If it is over there and it moves, kill it.”
    “If a sniper is using a church steeple, bomb the church.”
    “If a fellow soldier, (yes,even superior officers), are bringing discredit to you and yours, expose them and stand by for their elimination”
    And so many more ways that our Warriors of the past were allowed to operate at their maximum effective rate.
    Today’s military has high caliber personnel, but the few that run them are so damned screwed up, in bed with their politicians, etc. that I really wonder how we will ever be the strong force that we were once regarded as. No matter how good the troops, if the politicians and senior leaders hobble them, bow to the enemy, and show the least sign of weakness, our military is not only seen as weak, but will be exploited as such.

  30. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Everyone over O5 needs a seasoned E6 to follow them around with a wiffle bat and administer as needed. *whap* “NO, sir, bad idea.” (Sig in cmt 13)

    I liked that so much I thought I’d paste it rather than just reference it.

  31. Cajun says:

    @29: I’m sure you are aware then, that just turns into dimming your brothers out and being a blue falcon. “Zero defect” mentality and other negative risk averse behaviors follow. In the end, You’re left with the same S#itbag leadership

  32. MAJ Mike says:

    Guess that “Duty, Honor, Country” stuff they push at the Hudson School for Boys and Girls didn’t take.

    I was sent to OCS because my 1SGT said that I wasn’t NCO material. We didn’t get ethics lessons because it was assumed that we had ethics as soldiers.