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Gates and Mullen to DADT-supporting 3-Star General: “Vote with your feet”

Timothy Kincaid

March 25th, 2010

MixonMeet Lieutenant General Benjamin R Mixon, the Commanding General of United States Army Pacific. But be careful around General Mixon, he just might find your “conduct” to not be “acceptable”.

On May March 8 he wrote a letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes:

The recent commentaries on the adverse effects of repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy were insightful.

It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. I suspect many servicemembers, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen’s desire to serve and acceptable conduct.

Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.

But Mixon may wish to consider whether his superiors consider him to have acceptable conduct. Trying to do an end run around the Commander in Chief and the Joint Chiefs of Staff may not be the wisest of actions.

The Secretary of Defense was not amused. And he let Mixon know what he can do if he isn’t pleased with the process set up to review the policy (ABC).

Everybody participating in the review will have the chance to voice their approval concerns, ideas, their suggestions within this process, but there is an appropriate way to do that. Publicly voicing or politically advocating political positions and actions through the news media is just not appropriate for the men and women in uniform, particularly officers in command positions. Especially when it’s in direct opposition to the policy objectives of the President of the United States, their Commander in Chief. “

Mullen reiterated today that disagreements should also be expressed within the chain of command. But ultimately, “In the end, if there is either policy direction that someone in uniform disagrees with — and I’ve said this before — the answer — and you feel so strongly about it — you know, the answer is not advocacy; it is in fact to vote with your feet. And that’s what all of us in a position of leadership, I think, have to conform to.”

It appears that much of the anger towards Mixon was not based on his opinion, but rather was due to his efforts to subvert the process that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were establishing. Mixon may also have been contradicting a direct order (Stars and Stripes)

But Gates and Mullen suggested Thursday that Mixon’s offense had been speaking out about the policy after commanders were specifically ordered not to do so.

Mullen said the Army had given officers “very specific direction” in written form following Gates’ announcement of his intent to seek the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.

And the Army was quick to distance itself from Mixon and his political activism.

The bottom line is that Lt. Gen. Mixon’s comments do not reflect the Army’s thinking on this issue. He was expressing his personal opinion. The Army clearly supports what the Secretary of Defense is trying to do with his assessment of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. So it is inappropriate for a commander to advocate in such a public way on something that is clearly a policy issue. We have a forum, and that is the Secretary’s ongoing comprehensive review.

Most observers are viewing the Admiral’s words as an invitation for Mixon to submit his resignation. Personally, I would not be surprised to see him decide to pursue a career in political advocacy. He will be considered a martyr and hero by those who believe that “fighting the homosexual agenda” is more important than military cohesion or following the chain of command.

Comments

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Chris McCoy
March 25th, 2010 | LINK

Publicly voicing or politically advocating political positions and actions through the news media is just not appropriate for the men and women in uniform, particularly officers in command positions.

Anyone else see this as an indirect comment on Lt Choi’s recent conduct?

paul j stein
March 25th, 2010 | LINK

Seems that the Lieutenant General Benjamin R Mixon is looking for a consulting job at FOX NEWS. FOX loves to pick up the flavor of the week in yappy conservatives.

Lindoro Almaviva
March 25th, 2010 | LINK

If I was Obama, I would send him a one sentence letter:

Since you are in disagreement with the specific orders of your commander in chief I expect your retirement papers on my desk no latter than Monday morning.

Respectfully,
….

grantdale
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy — March 8, not May :)

Readers may also enjoy the following mind-boggling letter.

I particularly like how he must think “I don’t condemn homosexuals” is compatible with all his abusive language, and how “equally” and “the same” is compatible with acting to the contrary. The letter is so mutually illogical it could have easily been written by the Exodus board.

—————————

Don’t tamper with ‘don’t ask’
Stars and Stripes
Letters to the Editor, Friday, March 26, 2010

First, there is no scientific evidence to indicate sexual orientation is determined by anything other than environment. There is no homosexual (or heterosexual) gene.

Third, homosexuality is a dysfunctional moral guide … Because an ape may do something doesn’t mean it’s acceptable behavior for a human.

… morality is what separates us from the ape. … homosexual behavior has been viewed as immoral and offensive to God/nature throughout history. Only since the inception of the “basic human rights” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have homosexuals been tolerated. … Just because we tolerate something does not make it morally acceptable.

I don’t condemn homosexuals nor condone homosexual behavior. … we do not want any part of it in our own lives. As a leader of soldiers, I would be uncomfortable working with, counseling or leading someone who, in my estimation, has such a serious character flaw or lack of morals.

As an American, however, I believe all men are created equally and homosexuals are entitled to the same life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. [That is] why the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is effective and shouldn’t be tampered with.

Sgt. 1st Class Dennis L. Pettitt
Contingency Operating Base Delta, Iraq

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

I was thinking the same thing, Chris. In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon. I find what both men have done to be very inappropriate and the criticism of higher ups in the case of Mixon at least is warranted.

Tommy
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Oy, that letter grantdale! The level of stupid and illogical involved overwhelms me.

CPT_Doom
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon.

That’s like saying the marchers at Selma 45 years ago were just as wrong as the police officers who beat them. After all, both groups were breaking the law.

The only similarity between Choi’s actions and Mixon’s is that both men acted in a way that could end their military careers. Choi is already being tossed out of the military, so his sacrifice was largely symbolic, but still he had the guts to face the potential consequences. It remains to be seen whether General Mixon has the same fortitude.

Ray
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

“Anyone else see this as an indirect comment on Lt Choi’s recent conduct?”

If Choi was actually **in** the service with the same active duty status as this bigoted general, then it would be a comment. But since Choi is on the outside looking in, having to depend upon the mercy of people who threw him into the gutter, then it’s insulting that Chris even makes that insulting association.

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

John said ” In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon.”.

I don’t see how you figure that. Choi supports what is right and just – allowing gays to serve openly. Mixon supports what is wrong and unjust – discrimination against gays. Choi is right, Mixon is wrong – case closed.

Jason D
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I will never understand how people can think that supporting the equality of others is the moral equivalent of denying it. They’re opposites, but that does not make them equals.

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Yes I don’t get that either, Jason.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

That’s like saying the marchers at Selma 45 years ago were just as wrong as the police officers who beat them. After all, both groups were breaking the law.

Nice. So any time you have a political statement to make you’ll make this appeal regardless of how inept it is? The Selma to Montgomery Marches were made by civilians seeking to have their rights as civilians upheld. The marches themselves were protected under the First Amendment and the efforts to prevent them were legally dubious. Choi’s recent actions are not comparable as no one has the “right” to chain themselves to public property or engage in civil disobedience. Choi is also not a civilian but a servicemember so very different standards apply here – to which Choi himself is appealing. Choi is making his stand on the basis of being an Army officer and that he interprets the lifting of the ban to be an order of the CiC. Yet he disobeyed what appears to have been a legal order and engaged in conduct prohibited for servicemembers while in full uniform. He cannot have it both ways and neither can you. We all agree with the cause of repealing the ban but the methods Choi himself used were wrong for, you know, an Army officer and that’s precisely the point.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t see how you figure that. Choi supports what is right and just – allowing gays to serve openly. Mixon supports what is wrong and unjust – discrimination against gays. Choi is right, Mixon is wrong – case closed.

Not that simple when you are speaking of service in the military. While I agree with Choi’s position on repealing the ban his methods displayed recently are just as inappropriate for a servicemember as were Mixon’s attempted end-run around the chain of command by publishing his criticism of stated Administration goals about this.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ray: Choi is still in the service and hasn’t been removed yet. In fact, he attended drill quite recently. If he were out of the service I wouldn’t have the objections to his recent actions that I do.

Jason D
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

“I don’t see how you figure that. Choi supports what is right and just – allowing gays to serve openly. Mixon supports what is wrong and unjust – discrimination against gays. Choi is right, Mixon is wrong – case closed.

Not that simple when you are speaking of service in the military.”

Actually it is that simple. I praised Choi because he’s doing what’s right, he’s speaking out about injustice.

I condemn Mixon because he’s defending bigotry.

They may be on opposite sides of the issue, but that does not make their actions equivalent.

Sure, they’ve both engaged in political speech while in uniform, and will likely both have to answer for that..
but that has zero to do with why I support Choi and condemn Mixon

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ditto

Chris McCoy
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ray said:

If Choi was actually **in** the service with the same active duty status as this bigoted general, then it would be a comment. But since Choi is on the outside looking in, having to depend upon the mercy of people who threw him into the gutter, then it’s insulting that Chris even makes that insulting association.

Multiple news sources all agree that Lt Choi has not been officially discharged, and his case is still pending, so he isn’t “on the outside looking in.”

Is there a some non Active Duty status for people who are pending discharge whereby they would no longer be required to uphold the Uniformed Code of Military Justice?

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t find arguments that rely on “I’m right and you’re wrong” as a justification for behavior to be particularly convincing whether they come from anti-gay or pro-gay advocates.

Chris McCoy
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

John said:

In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon. I find what both men have done to be very inappropriate and the criticism of higher ups in the case of Mixon at least is warranted.

I would never have made a good soldier. I have a mind of my own, and I can’t keep quiet when I see something wrong. I’m not afraid to say things that contradict superiors, especially when they’re wrong.

I have no problem with either Lt Choi or Lt.Gen. Mixon expressing their own opinions, in or out of uniform. They have a constitutional right to do so. The fact that they are in the military, to me, is irrelevant. They are Human Beings first, Americans second, and soldiers third.

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I don’t see anyone making an argument that relies on “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Actually it is that simple. I praised Choi because he’s doing what’s right, he’s speaking out about injustice.

If that’s all you want to limit this to, than fine as should have clear from my comments. Yet when you examine this in detail, Choi’s recent actions while IN the service are not praiseworthy.

I condemn Mixon because he’s defending bigotry.

That’s fine and I would agree with such condemnation. I would add again to this, however, that Mixon’s criticism is inappropriate ALSO because he is IN the military and has not followed military protocol in expressing his views on the matter.

They may be on opposite sides of the issue, but that does not make their actions equivalent.

This is where your comments fall flat. I never drew a moral equivalency between opposition to DADT and support of DADT. You made the mistake of believing otherwise. Instead I limited this to what is appropriate behavior for servicemembers, something both Choi and Mixon opened themselves up to legitimate criticism about through their own actions. The fact that I believe Choi is right about his opposition to DADT does not that he is justified in any action he sees fit in taking in expressing such – especially while IN the service.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Is there a some non Active Duty status for people who are pending discharge whereby they would no longer be required to uphold the Uniformed Code of Military Justice?

None that I’m aware of with the possible exception of the Individual Ready Reserve. I really don’t know about that one.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

I would never have made a good soldier. I have a mind of my own, and I can’t keep quiet when I see something wrong. I’m not afraid to say things that contradict superiors, especially when they’re wrong. I have no problem with either Lt Choi or Lt.Gen. Mixon expressing their own opinions, in or out of uniform. They have a constitutional right to do so. The fact that they are in the military, to me, is irrelevant. They are Human Beings first, Americans second, and soldiers third.

With this kind of gross misunderstanding of military service, I would agree with you: you wouldn’t have made a good soldier regardless of whether there was a ban in place or not concerning gays. Military life is NOT the same as civilian life and both Choi and Mixon freely volunteered to serve, which includes legitimate restrictions on their public activities.

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

John said “This is where your comments fall flat. I never drew a moral equivalency between opposition to DADT and support of DADT. You made the mistake of believing otherwise.”.

We made no mistake, you did draw a moral equivalency, you said “In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon.”

That’s wrong. Promoting equality is right and just, promoting discrimination is wrong and unjust – case closed.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

We made no mistake, you did draw a moral equivalency, you said “In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon.”
That’s wrong. Promoting equality is right and just, promoting discrimination is wrong and unjust – case closed.

Except for the fact that I never equated the morality of opposing DADT (Choi’s position) and supporting DADT (Mixon’s position). Instead I pointed out that the recent actions of both men in support of their respective and opposing views were wrong because of the fact that both are still IN the military. Since I oppose DADT myself it would be easy for me to condemn just Mixon because of his comments, but it’s the fact that he made them in the manner he did while in the military in addition to their content that I find objectionable. As for Choi, I doubt I’d have much of a problem with his recent actions if they were done as a civilian and not by a servicemember. I’d question their effectiveness for repealing DADT, but that’s about it. Yet Choi did otherwise and that’s what I find to be objectionable and wrong.

Priya Lynn
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Except for the fact that I never equated the morality of opposing DADT (Choi’s position) and supporting DADT (Mixon’s position).

Yes you did equate them. You said “In fact, I would say that those who praised Choi’s recent actions have very little ground to turn around and condemn Mixon.” Choi’s action was to oppose DADT and Mixon’s action was to support DADT – you in essence said “Those who praised the opposition to DADT have little ground to turn around and condemn the support of DADT”.

John
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya: I see. So if Choi murdered someone because of their support for DADT while Mixon did likewise, but instead because his victim opposed DADT, you’d ignore Choi’s actions and praise him simply because you agree with his opposition to DADT all while condemning just what Mixon did? An absurd example? In some ways of course because the actions of both Choi & Mixon come nowhere near to being as bad as murder. Yet essentially that IS what you are saying because you’re ignoring the actions of BOTH Choi & Mixon and focusing solely on their beliefs. That too is absurd. Just because someone holds a view I happen to agree with does not in any way mean that every action they may take in expressing such viewpoint is right or justified. You can spin this however you like and accuse me of whatever you please but it still doesn’t change the fact that the actions of both Choi & Mixon were inappropriate for servicemembers regardless of their motives and beliefs.

Patrick Garies
March 26th, 2010 | LINK

John, intent is everything. Using your murder analogy, people receive lesser sentences or get off entirely on *intent* alone. (If you did something benign (self-defense) you usually get off, if you did something malevolent, you go to jail, and if you did something stupid or are mentally unstable it’s up in the air; same action, different standard.)

That said, in your example, the damage done (a death) would not be mitigated by the intent. But chaining yourself to a fence to obtain justice? I think that the intent can mitigate that.

Ultimately, you’re getting at consistent application of the law (or military law since I have good reason to guess that you hold that in higher esteem that the civilian laws of the country you’re defending (and therefore would exercise the same selective standard you’re opposing here)). Unfortunately, I don’t think that that’s the right path to take here; people who play Mr. Nice Guy aren’t going to get this draconian law changed since there’s already a military/Congressional/religious culture built supporting it and Choi already blatantly violated one law (DADT), so he’s already stepped over the bounds. (The only way that he *couldn’t* be expelled is if his commanding officers chose to ignore the law (DADT), so it was a moot point anyway.)

In essence, your claim of consistent application here is defending all *laws* regardless of quality or intent (including DADT if you’re going to be consistent). Personally, I think that that’s wrong. And while the military culture may be “their’s to do or die; their’s not to question why”, Choi has already been condemned by this culture you’re supporting (assuming that they apply your claimed standard), so I don’t see why everyone would want to jump aboard the “but military rules are paramount” train. I, for one, don’t think so; justice is paramount and laws do not always coincide with justice. A military uniform shouldn’t provide an exemption from that standard.

John
March 27th, 2010 | LINK

John, intent is everything. Using your murder analogy, people receive lesser sentences or get off entirely on *intent* alone. (If you did something benign (self-defense) you usually get off, if you did something malevolent, you go to jail, and if you did something stupid or are mentally unstable it’s up in the air; same action, different standard.)

Self-defense is usually not considered to be murder under the law, hence why I chose that word above. Yes, if you are talking about legal proceedings intent is considered and should either man face a courts-martial I’m sure they will use this as part of their defense. I doubt in either case it would prove to be very effective in a military court. Even varying sentences for convictions which takes intent into account that you mention above still doesn’t mitigate that the defendant committed an offense that is not sanctioned under the law.

That said, in your example, the damage done (a death) would not be mitigated by the intent. But chaining yourself to a fence to obtain justice? I think that the intent can mitigate that.

If this were a civilian case I would agree, but not when it comes to the military. Choi appears to have disobeyed a valid order and committed an act of public protest against the CiC, both very serious offenses in the military. Mixon attempted an end-run around the chain of command to subvert the CiC, also a serious offense though in his case one that will probably only bring about a forced retirement. We have rules for servicemembers for a reason, without them the military cannot function properly and the highest principle is its strict subordination to civilian authorities. Both men stepped over the line in different ways when it comes to that principle regardless of their motives. Now do I expect the military to throw the book at them? Not really. The military hates bad PR and both cases are fraught with risk of lots of it.

(or military law since I have good reason to guess that you hold that in higher esteem that the civilian laws of the country you’re defending

You’re guess would be incorrect since we do not live in a Banana Republic yet and military law would be very wrong for civilians just as civilian law would be a disaster if applied in full to servicemembers.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that that’s the right path to take here; people who play Mr. Nice Guy aren’t going to get this draconian law changed

Perhaps, though I have my doubts that an ACT-UP approach will be all that effective but instead play right into the hands of DADT advocates. Yet even if I’m wrong about that there remains the fact that such actions by civilians are not excusable from servicemembers against their civilian authorities, nor should they be. If a servicemember wishes to engage in such activities they should leave the military first and then feel free to do so to their heart’s content.

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