WASHINGTON – The nation’s top officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey, believes the ethics training senior commanders get is good — they just don’t get enough of it.
That was one of the preliminary findings of a review of senior officer ethics, overseen by Dempsey, announced last month after a string of scandals among top generals. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta briefed President Barack Obama on the review this week, Pentagon press secretary George Little said Friday.
“First, the joint chiefs believe that while we have appropriate ethics training programs in place for senior leaders, we needed to start earlier and reinforce that training more frequently in an officer’s career,” Little said
Dempsey also recommended a deeper look at the supports and perquisites available to top officers, whom observers often describe as living in a bubble of aides, advisors and even domestic helpers.
“Gen. Dempsey believes we must look at the level and type of support senior leaders receive in the execution of their duties to ensure it is necessary, and to ensure we are being consistent, sensible and efficient,” Little said.
While declining to name specific supports that would be investigated, Little said they involve personnel infrastructure around senior officers.
A Department of Defense Inspector General’s report on former U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. William “Kip” Ward detailed his use of support staff for non-military purposes, including shopping trips to purchase items for Ward’s wife.
Ward was reduced in rank to three-star general and retired last month, ordered to repay $82,000 of improper spending during his years at the top of the military food chain.
Other recent scandals involving behavior of senior military officers include the Nov. 9 resignation of retired Gen. David Petraeus from his post as CIA director after admitting an affair. Soon after, the Pentagon began investigating a lengthy email correspondence between Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, and a Tampa socialite – communications uncovered by the FBI during an investigation of Petraeus and his biographer.