Gates and Mullen to DADT-supporting 3-Star General: “Vote with your feet”
March 25th, 2010
Meet 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”.
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.