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112 retired AF generals oppose Gillibrand bill to change UCMJ

Nov. 22, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has proposed a bill to let military prosecutors, rather than commanders, make decisions on whether to prosecute sexual assaults in the armed forces. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)
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More than 100 retired Air Force generals and five former chief master sergeants of the Air Force have signed a letter of opposition to a Senate bill that would give military prosecutors, rather than commanders, the power to send serious offenses to court-martial.

The change “would have a devastating impact on our national security and military readiness by diminishing the vital role of commanders in the military justice system,” Lt. Gen. George Muellner, chairman of the board of directors for the Air Force Association, wrote in a Nov. 13 letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

The 2013 Military Justice Improvement Act, authored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would move the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more to military attorneys. Commanders would still be responsible for deciding whether to send to court-martial 37 offenses, such as disobeying orders or being absent without leave.

The bill is the more controversial of two that propose changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice aimed at reducing sexual assault across the services.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has proposed a bill that would leave the power to prosecute crimes within the chain of command but strip commanders of the authority to change or dismiss a court-martial verdict except when the offenses are minor. It would also require a convening authority to hear from a victim before modifying a sentence — and provide a written explanation for any changes.

In addition to Muellner, the Air Force Association letter opposing Gillibrand’s bill is signed by 112 retired Air Force generals and five former chief master sergeants of the Air Force, including James Roy, who retired in January.

“In our professional military opinion there is no substitute for committed and empowered commanders who engage their troops at every level of the chain of command,” Muellner wrote to Levin, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The bill, Muellner continued, “would undermine the commander’s essential role by stripping away the ability to directly shape the culture and climate of their command.”

Gillibrand has argued that the current system giving a commander sole authority to pursue a case presents an inherent conflict of interest: The boss of an accused — and oftentimes the accuser — decides whether to send a case to court-martial.

Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin said he had not seen the letter but said military support for the senator’s bill is on the rise. “We’ve had retired flag officers come forward, commanders, captains, JAG officers, veterans organizations and brave survivors who have come forward and said a vote for this bill is a vote for our troops and a vote to strengthen our military,” Caplin said.

The following retired generals and chief master sergeants of the Air Force signed Muellner’s letter:

4 Stars

Gen. Mike Loh

Gen. Gene Renuart

Gen. Duncan McNabb

Gen. Chuck Boyd

Gen. Dick Hawley

Gen. Paul Hester

Ron Fogleman

Steve Lorenz

Earl O’Loughlin

Arthur Lichte

Eugene Habiger

Michael Hayden

John Handy

William Looney

Lance Lord

Lance Smith

Billy Boles

C.T. “Tony” Robertson

Ronald Yates

Charles Horner

Martin Marsh

James P. Mullins

William L Kirk

Gen. Kevin Chilton

Gen. Doug Fraser

3 Stars

Lt. Gen. Dick Newton

Lt. Gen. Mike Dunn

Lt. Gen. David Deptula

Lt. Gen. John Conaway

Lt. Gen. Michael E. Zettler

Lt. Gen. Robert D. Springer

Lt. Gen. Tom Waskow

Lt. Gen. Chuck Heflebower

Lt. Gen. Walter S. Hogle, Jr.

Lt. Gen. Dave Teal

Lt. Gen. Timothy A. Kinnan

Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Braswell

Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins,

Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney

Lt. Gen. Thad A. Wolfe

Lt. Gen. Clifford H "Ted" Rees, Jr.

Lt. Gen. David L. Vesely

Lt. Gen. Don Snyder

Lt. Gen. Michael A Nelson

Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler

Lt. Gen. Charles Johnson

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel

2 Stars

Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen

Maj. Gen. John Speigel

Maj. Gen. Edward J. Mechenbier

Maj. Gen. Rick Devereaux

Maj. Gen. Larry New

Maj. Gen. Silas R. Johnson, Jr.

Maj. Gen. John W. Brooks

Maj. Gen. Frank R. Faykes

Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson

Maj. Gen. William W. Hoover

Maj. Gen. Peter U. Sutton

Maj. Gen. Bobby J Wilkes

Maj. Gen. Jay H. Lindell

Maj. Gen. Keith McCartney

Maj. Gen. George N Williams

Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Egeland, Jr.

Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins II

Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke

Maj. Gen. George W. "Nordie" Norwood

Maj. Gen. Keith W. Meurlin

Maj. Gen. William R. Usher

Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hess

Maj. Gen. Richard B. Goetze, Jr.

Maj. Gen. Burton R. Moore

Maj. Gen. Dan Dick

Maj. Gen. Wm. L. Nicholson, III

Maj. Gen. Jack Catton

Maj. Gen. Richard E. Perraut, Jr.

BG:

BG Robert. E. Dehnert

BG Rudolf F. Peksens

BG James M. Shamess

BG Robert A. Norman

BG Daniel J. Sherlock

BG Duncan w. Campbell

BG Chester D. Taylor, Jr.

BG Jerry Landry

BG Sanford Schlitt

BG Stan Smith

BG Robert T. Osterthaler

BG Robert A. Hoffmann

BG Howard G. DeWolf

BG Raymond A. Shulstad

BG Duncan Campbell

BG Harold B. Adams

BG Joel M McKean

BG E. Daniel Cherry

BG Virgil Wayne Lloyd

BG Scott P. Van Cleef

BG Steven Speer

BG Edward N. Giddings

BG Robert C. Stumpf

BG Andrew W. Smoak

BG William R. Hodges

BG Gary A Ambrose

BG Walter C. Hersman

BG John W. Meincke

BG Jeffrey R. Johnson

BG Harold “Buck” Adams

BG Karl Kristof

BG Thomas E. Stickford

BG Monte Montgomery

BG Eden Murrie

CMSAFs:

CMSAF Gerald Murray

CMSAF Sam Parish

CMSAF Eric Benken

CMSAF Bob Gaylor

CMSAF James Roy

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