Chairman doth protest too much
In "General rebuked for letter opposing repeal" (article, March 26), Adm. Mike Mullen (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) suggested that Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon (commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific) should consider resigning for publicly advocating against the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I think that for an active-duty officer to comment on an issue like this is inappropriate."
Really? Since when are commanders forbidden from supporting existing policies? I recently attended a Prevention of Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault Seminar, where my brigade commander voiced his unwavering support of anti-discrimination laws. It looks like my commander, an active-duty officer, conducted himself inappropriately by supporting existing policy on a "hot button" issue.
We have many laws supported by officers at all levels. What makes this one different? Oh yeah − politics. Apparently, neither of the esteemed gentlemen sees the irony in reprimanding an officer for his political comments when they themselves made statements denouncing "don’t ask, don’t tell" and calling for its repeal. According to Gates’ measure of Mixon’s comments, Mullen’s comments on the issue would be considered inappropriate.
Perhaps Gates and Mullen should re-evaluate their own actions. At the very least, they owe Mixon an apology. There is no room for hypocrisy when casting aspersions on the character of an officer performing his military duties honorably.
What is the message our most senior military leaders are trying to send to the rest of us? Are we not allowed to express ourselves in letters such as this one? What about their derisive comments regarding "don’t ask, don’t tell"? Does Mullen himself not fall into the category of "active-duty officers sounding off on political issues?"
I’m neither for nor against "don’t ask, don’t tell." I am merely supporting Mixon’s right to support existing policy, or "be an officer."
Sgt. 1st Class James "Doogie" BurkeyForward Operating Base Warrior, Iraq