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Letters to the editor

Mar. 19, 2013 - 11:22AM   |  
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Franklin did right

I commend the General Court-Martial Convening Authority Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, Third Air Force, for overturning Lt. Col. James Wilkerson’s general court-martial conviction [“Court-martial, then clemency,” March 18] for allegedly groping a sleeping woman in his home, and setting aside the sentence of a year confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dismissal.

The Air Force has already removed Wilkerson’s name from the colonel promotion list. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is calling on the Air Force to fire Wilkerson and remove Franklin from his leadership position.

A better solution would be to have all military sex crime allegations investigated by the FBI and prosecuted in federal court. Civilian juries would find many of the cases the military does prosecute laughable, as was the case involving Wilkerson.

It is my view the military jury (court members) in his case felt compelled to convict.

The other reason is they did not get to see all of the evidence the defense wanted to present at trial, but which the defense was able to present to Franklin as part of their clemency petition.

As the Senate Armed Services Committee plans hearings this month into military sexual assault, hopefully they will ask Franklin to attend so he can explain his reasoning to them.

I am sure he had a rationale, and maybe when Congress and the media hear it, they will stop their unjustified attacks.

That, of course, is why Congress will not call him to testify.

Navy Cmdr. Wayne L. Johnson (ret.)

Alexandria, Va.

Outrageous tuition cuts

I’m outraged, and you should be, too. The Marines, quickly followed by the Army, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, have used the steep budget cuts required by the sequester as a poor excuse to cut one of the most prized and important benefits earned in exchange for service in uniform — tuition assistance. I imagine the Navy will fall in line next.

Cutting tuition assistance directly affects service members’ education — what military leaders cite and have used repeatedly for a generation as one of the most important benefits in recruiting, readiness, promotion, retention and ultimately even transition to the civilian job market. Surely there are other military expenditures that should be cut first.

Tuition assistance is a benefit promised by recruiters. Now that the troops are coming home after 12 years of war and multiple deployments and are in a position to take advantage of this promised benefit, it is taken away from them.

In the words of former Virginia Sen. James Webb, “You can’t renegotiate the front end once the back end is done.” The troops have lived up to their end of the deal. The services must now live up to their end.

We will not let them get away with this without a fight. You should be saying not only no, but, “Hell no!”

Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp (ret.)

President, National Association for Uniformed Services

Springfield, Va.

Comment clarified

Jeffrey Schogol wrote an article on budget woes [“Budget crunch could force delays, cuts in PME slots,” March 11] forcing quota cuts on schools, promotions, etc. In the article, he quoted me as saying that such actions create the perception that no one gives a “big red rat’s fanny” about them.

I said that, no misquotes.

However, what I should have said is that “... no one outside the DoD gives ...” There is no question in my military mind but that Air Force leaders, commanders and supervisors care and are doing everything they can to minimize adverse impacts on everyone.

They care!

Gen. Bill Boles (ret.)

Comfort, Texas

Leadership 1-1

Not long ago, something peculiar found its way into Air Force policy: 27 pages, the necessary requirement to articulate Air Force Standards in newly released AFI 1-1, which includes 34 standards-focused regulations.

So, what’s at work that stresses the need to unpack three seemingly straightforward benchmarks — integrity, service, excellence? Perhaps the seams between the core values have simply been stretched too far.

The demise of leadership within the Defense Department can be traced to failures across the social and political spectrum of our nation — the effects of which have bled into the philosophical arteries of this department. The results have been manifest not only in the scandalous activities of individuals, but also in the military’s collapsing moral climate.

With the arrival of AFI 1-1, we’ve publicly admitted what many have suspected — we in the military profession no longer share a common understanding of integrity. AFI 1-1 redefines this formerly sensible core value as “a character trait” and “the moral compass — the inner voice; the voice of self-control; the basis for the trust that is essential in today’s military.”

G.K. Chesterton once said, “There are many angles at which a man can fall, but only one at which he can stand straight.” If this one attitude were our ethical stamp of conviction, little else would need to be taught on the subject.

Instead, we now require 27 pages.

Lt. Col. J. Lewis Hedges

Commander, 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron

New York Air National Guard

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