Entire Joint Chiefs Oppose Biden Secretary of Defense Undermining DoD Justice System

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) Flickr

Shortly after Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and each of the service branch heads sent letters to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, in which they warned that a proposed radical measure to change the military’s justice system is too extreme, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated he will support congressional efforts to remove the prosecution of sexual assaults and other crimes from the military chain of command.

Austin’s announcement revealed a serious split between the Pentagon’s senior military brass and its civilian leaders.

Recall the partisan criticism that President Trump did not heed the advice of his military brass.  It appears that President Biden is following the same approach. First on Afghanistan. Now on this issue.

Milley and the chiefs said legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021, may have unintended consequences on unit discipline because its reach would take commanders out of the prosecutorial chain of every non-military crime, not just sexual assault. They added that even a bill limited only to sex crimes could have unintended consequences on their ability to maintain discipline in the ranks.

In addition to Gen. Milley, all the service chiefs concurred. These included Army Chief Gen. James C. McConville, Navy Chief, Adm. Michael Gilday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown; Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, all expressed deep caution in their letters.

Their letters were sent to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. In his own statement, Inhofe said that the proposed bill “would not reduce sexual assault or other crime in the slightest and would complicate the military justice system unnecessarily.”

According to Defense One: “Efforts to revise how the military handles sexual assault and harassment cases are being driven within the Pentagon and Congress. Legislation was introduced last year after the murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen.” Because of that, notes Defense One:

Biden administration officials have said the issue of sex crimes in the military is an immediate priority. Shortly after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was confirmed, he directed an internal, independent commission to look at how the military could handle those cases better. 

The panel’s first recommendation was to remove sexual assault prosecutions from the chain of command, a step long resisted by senior military leaders who have argued against drastic changes to the military’s internal justice system and traditions. 

“In coming days, I will present to President Biden my specific recommendations about the commission’s findings, but I know enough at this point to state the following,” Austin said in the statement.

“First, we will work with Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice, removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command, but I know enough at this point to state the following,” he said. 

“The [Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment] recommended the inclusion of other special victims’ crimes inside this independent prosecution system, to include domestic violence. I support this as well, given the strong correlation between these sorts of crimes and the prevalence of sexual assault.”

Austin’s statement contrasts sharply with the Joint Chiefs, who described in their letters their strong discomfort with Gillibrand’s proposed radical reforms. In his letter, Milley stated that:

It is my professional opinion that removing commanders from prosecution decisions … may have an adverse effect on readiness, mission accomplishment, good order and discipline, justice, unit cohesion, trust, and loyalty between commanders and those they lead. However, in the specific and limited circumstance of sexual assault, I remain open-minded to all solutions.

The Navy chief, Adm. Gilday said the measure, as currently written, could lead to serious unintended consequences. He said:

My first concern is with the broad scope of offenses that would be covered by an alternate judge-advocate run process. By removing commanders’ authority to effectively respond to many of the most serious threats to good order and discipline, … [the legislation] erodes the ability of commanders to create and maintain the environment necessary to effectively exercise mission command.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. McConville expressed a similar sentiment in his written response to Mr. Inhofe, saying the law should apply only to rape and sexual assault. ADN

Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Joe
Joe
1 month ago

Hidenbiden and his cronies are going to destroy our military and our country. Who are these incompetent, losers? Politicians better wake up before we lose our country to the commies.

Dane002
Dane002
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

More like hilderbiden… in Chinese

Pauline
Pauline
1 month ago

Leave sexual assault cases within the chain of command but immediately remove the accused from contact with the accuser. If unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, allow the accuser to seek redress in civil court.

Bobbo
Bobbo
1 month ago

These ‘effin progressives just never stop. It’s one thing after another. When are they going to get around to governing the country.

glenn edward davis
glenn edward davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Bobbo

Slaves don’t need to be governed just told what to think, what to say, and what to do. Don’t rush them, they’re are working on it.

connie
connie
1 month ago

Gillibrand, has to be one of if not the stupidist person in the senate. All she know how to do is kiss someones behind to get noticed. If this is the way to get things done this country is doomed.

glenn edward davis
glenn edward davis
1 month ago
Reply to  connie

On another note, my local community college is going to start teaching Cantonese in the fall. Is this foresight?

IH8LIBS
IH8LIBS
1 month ago

Everything the senile dotard and his commie administration touch turns to $hit….

Dane002
Dane002
1 month ago

Moving to political commissars looks like the path…

Namvet
Namvet
1 month ago

Having Lloyd Austin involved in any decisions regarding our military is proving to be a reckless progressive destruction of our proud meritocracy that makes America proud and our enemies at bay. Listen to the joint chiefs Austin and learn.

Gene Ralno
Gene Ralno
1 month ago

This is a typical democrat power grab. Democrats have demonstrated vigorously their intent is more control and it’s particularly frightening this time. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is severe and imperfect but it works.

This overreaching administration will screw it up just as it screwed up the border, medical care, public education and a long list of human rights. I hope the Joint Chiefs tell our coprolitic Imbecile in Chief to go pound sand. I’m pretty sure a hundred million private arms owners will agree.

Daniel M Barber
1 month ago

Knee-jerk reactions by incompetent or corrupt politicians to tragic events within the ranks of the uniformed services can destroy the only protection our country has against oppressive governments. Using the military to experiment with altering American social norms is dangerous. The services’ mission is to protect the Constitution that restricts some rights of uniformed members. Military personnel knows their protections rest with the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. When incompetent legislators usurp those UCMJ regulations, it risks the very existence of America if there isn’t an armed service to protect it.

John Sowers
John Sowers
1 month ago

I don’t trust Austin. PERIOD

Omega 2
Omega 2
1 month ago

GOOD. THANK YOU JOINT CHIEF’S OF STAFF ON THIS NEW ” PHONY MARXIST ” HEAD NOW WORKING TO DESTROY THE MORAL OF OUR FIGHTING FORCES WITH HIS ” CRITICAL RACE CRAP ” FOR ALL THE SERVICES! BLATANLY TELL FUZZY JOE AND HIS NED BUDDY TO SHOVE IT AS THEY ARE ALLOWED TO DUMP ANY RULES AND INJUST LAWS CONTROLING THE SERVICES!

fabian
fabian
1 month ago

They caved in with critical race theory, now they’ll see their disciplinary authority taken away. Next step we can imagine that they’ll have to surrender their assault weapons. It will never stop.


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