Posts Tagged With: Iraq

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The Pentagon is pushing ahead with its campaign to move women closer to the battlefield, despite a series of sex scandals involving senior officers and a report showing an increase in sexual assaults among the troops.
At the dawn of the all-volunteer military force in 1973, women accounted for less than 3 percent of active-duty and reserve members. Today, 310,000 women make up about 15 percent of the force. In and around the Afghanistan War are nearly 17,000 women in uniform.
With the influx has come increasingly close contact between men and women — and a sharp rise in sexual misconduct. Military-wide, sexual assaults are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a Pentagon report.

“The problem is getting worse. It’s not getting better,” said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. “Part of the reason is people don’t want to admit what everyone knows to be true.
“Men and women are human beings. They react to each other. The do things they are not proud of. Rank has nothing to do with it. It’s not solely a gender issue. Both sexes are involved. All ranks.”
In recent months, an Army general in Afghanistan was accused of forcing a female captain to engage in sex acts, and the Navy has fired commanding officers for sexual misconduct.
Even four-star officers are not immune. Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, is under a Pentagon investigation for an exchange of flirtatious emails with a married Florida socialite.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have pushed the sexes closer together than ever before in shared living quarters in isolated bases, as well as the close quarters of Navy ships and, now, submarines.
A Department of Veterans Affairs research panel survey found that about half of all women sent to Iraq and Afghanistan say they were sexually harassed, and 1 in 4 say they were sexually assaulted. The findings were based on surveys mailed to 1,100 women who had served in or near the two war zones, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, most recruits begin military life in sex-integrated barracks.
“The only thing the military can do is try to encourage discipline instead of indiscipline, and try to avoid the kind of hazardous situations that just make it worse,” Mrs. Donnelly said.
One of the trends Mrs. Donnelly said is making things worse is the Army’s drive to put women closer to combat and, perhaps one day, in direct land combat.
Early last year, the Army began opening 14,000 combat support jobs below the brigade level, down to smaller units close to front lines.
In a more revolutionary move, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, ordered a study to learn whether women can be assigned to direct land combat occupations as infantry and armor soldiers.

The Air Force and Navy removed most combat barriers in the 1990s. Since then, it has ballyhooed the methodical promotions of female generals and admirals to key commands.
The Army suffered through its worst known sex scandal in 1996 when 12 officers and enlisted leaders were charged with sexually abusing female trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Sixteen years later, the Air Force discovered the same type of widespread sexual abuse at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

At Lackland, all enlisted recruits undergo an 8?-week boot camp under the wing of a mostly male staff.
More than 30 female trainees complained of sexual harassment, and even in-barracks rapes, by instructors. The Air Force fired scores of instructors.

The scandal involving former Gen. David H. Petraeus, who formed a close relationship with his biographer in Afghanistan while in Army uniform and then began an extramarital affair while CIA director, has garnered the most attention.

But the military branches have suffered through much more disturbing cases of misconduct.
The Army has charged a deputy commander of its storied 82nd Airborne Division with forcing a female captain to perform oral sex. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair’s sexual relations with his subordinate went on for three years in the U.S. and on deployments to Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another former commander, Army Col. James H. Johnson III of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was convicted in June of having an affair with an Iraqi woman, aided by government cars and travel vouchers. A military judge fined him $300,000. His wife had turned him in.
Army Col. Avanulus Smiley was relieved of his command for committing adultery.
A ‘chilling trend’
Former sailors cannot remember an era when so many Navy commanding officers are being punished for improprieties with female shipmates.
Navy Times, an independent newspaper, has taken to publishing a running tally. As 2012 came to a close, the Navy had punished 40 commanding and executive officers, as well as senior enlisted personnel in command-type positions.
Several cases involved inappropriate sexual conduct. The Navy relieved Capt. Robert Martin, a ship commander, for having an affair with a fellow captain’s wife. Adultery is a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“The Martin case is the latest evidence that a small but significant number of the Navy’s best officers continue to engage in improper relationships,” Navy Times said. “At least seven other [commanding officers] have been relieved for adultery and inappropriate personal relationships since 2010.”
Not all cases are about men behaving badly.
The Navy fired Cmdr. Sheryl Tannahill as head of a Navy support center because she carried on an “unduly familiar” relationship — sometimes called fraternization — with an enlisted man.
Neal Puckett, a lawyer who specializes in defending military clients, has witnessed officers who grow so senior in rank that they think they are above the law. Mr. Puckett has taken an advisory role with the Navy in anticipation that the military will launch more sex-abuse prosecutions.
“Hubris, I think, is the word that best describes the condition,” he said. “Sometimes those very senior positions give men a greater sense of power and belief that they are indeed, and finally, masters of their own destiny. Not above reproach, but rather above scrutiny. The system promoted them to where they are, thus they are justified in all of their actions, even when they are abusing that rank and position to satisfy some of their more primitive needs.”
Sexual assaults have become such unwanted occurrences in military life that the Pentagon set up the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office. It reports that sexual assaults have increased 22 percent since 2007.
The Army has issued a report that talks of a “chilling trend” of violent sex crimes growing at a rate of 14.6 percent a year.
Army figures show that reports of such crimes have nearly doubled, from 665 in 2006 to 1,313 last year.

The storyline got worse Dec. 21, when the Defense Department released a report saying sex assaults at the three service academies increased by 23 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year. They grew to 80 cases, from 65 in 2010-2011. The alarming numbers were contained in the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.
“Sexual assault has no place in this department,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “We take care of our people on the battlefield better than anyone else.
“We must extend that same ethos of care to combating sexual assault within our ranks. We have made progress in preventing and responding to sexual assault, but we are not satisfied and recognize there is much more work to do,” she said. “Our aim is to reduce, with a goal to eliminate, the crime of sexual assault from the armed forces.”
(By Rowan Scarborough)

Advertisements
Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crime and Punishment and Military tribunals.

Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich, 31, a U. S. Marine Corps squad leader in Haditha, Iraq was charged with war crimes, tried by a military court-martial, found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a reduction in pay and rank.

He will not serve a day in jail. Because of a plea bargain with prosecutors he will avoid brig time all together. The military judge was obligated to abide by the plea bargain between prosecutors and the defense.

The bottom line is that the sentence amounts to a cut in pay and a reduction in rank to private.

As part of his guilty plea, Sgt. Wuterich accepted responsibility for giving negligent verbal instructions to the Marines under his command. He reportedly told them to “shoot first and ask questions later,” which resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.

In a pre-sentencing statement, Sgt. Wuterich said when he gave that order, “the intent wasn’t that they should shoot civilians. It was that they would not hesitate in the face of the enemy.”

He was accused of being the ringleader in a series of November 19, 2005, shootings and grenade attacks that left two dozen civilians dead in Haditha, a city west of Baghdad. At least three officers were officially reprimanded for failing to properly initially report and investigate the killings.

The killings were portrayed by Iraqi witnesses and military prosecutors as a massacre of unarmed civilians — men, women and children — carried out by Marines in anger after a member of their unit was killed by a roadside bomb.

Defense lawyers argued the deaths resulted from a fast-moving combat situation and that the Marines believed they were under enemy fire.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

LT. William Calley was charged on September 5, 1969, with six specifications of premeditated murder for the deaths of 104 Vietnamese civilians near the village of My Lai. As many as 500 villagers, mostly women, children, infants and the elderly, had been systematically killed by American soldiers during a bloody rampage on March 16, 1968. Had he been convicted, Calley could have faced the death penalty.

It was the military prosecution’s contention that Calley, in defiance of the rules of engagement, ordered his men to deliberately murder unarmed Vietnamese civilians despite the fact that his men were not under enemy fire at all.

Calley’s original defense that the death of the villagers was the result of an accidental helicopter or aerial airstrike was quashed by the few prosecution witnesses. In his new defense, Calley claimed he was following the orders of his immediate superior, Captain Ernest Medina.  Twenty-one other members of Charlie Company also testified on Calley’s defense corroborating the orders. But Medina publicly denied giving such an order. Medina was acquitted of all charges relating to the incident at a separate trial in August 1971.

Calley was convicted on March 29, 1971, of the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians. On March 31, 1971, Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Of the 26 officers and soldiers initially charged for their part in the My Lai Massacre or the subsequent cover-up, only Calley was convicted.

On April 1, 1971, only a day after Calley was sentenced, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered him transferred from Leavenworth prison to house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served only three and a half years of house arrest.

In 1974, President Nixon tacitly issued Calley a limited Presidential Pardon. Consequently, his general court-martial conviction and dismissal from the U.S. Army were upheld, however, the prison sentence and subsequent parole obligations were commuted to time served, leaving Calley a free man.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

On June 26, 2006 Cadet Webster Smith pleaded not guilty in the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard Academy history. The charges ranged from rape, sodomy, and extortion to assault of four female cadets.

With no physical evidence in the case, defense attorneys had hoped to persuade jurors that the testimony of the women was unreliable. There was no DNA evidence, no forensic evidence, no rape kit and no crime scene photos. It was a classic case of “he-said, she-said”. It was one cadet’s word against another.

On June 28, 2006 after about eight hours of deliberation, the panel found Cadet Webster Smith guilty of indecent assault, extortion in exchange for sexual favors and sodomy, which in military parlance includes oral sex. All those charges involved only one of the four female accusers.

He was acquitted of several charges that stemmed from alleged sexual encounters with the other three female cadets. The defense had argued that the sex was consensual and that the women had colluded against Webster Smith. They were all scorned lovers of one sort or another.

Before any charges had been filed against him, Cadet Smith had spent about six months at hard labor and pre-trial confinement.  He was sentenced to an additional six months in jail at a Navy brig, and dismissal from the Coast Guard Academy. He served five months in jail and was released early because of good behavior as a prisoner. He had completed the four year curriculum but was not allowed to graduate in the Academy Class of 2006. For the remainder of his life he must register as a Sex Offender in his home state of Texas.

Webster Smith appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals held oral argument on January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia; but the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case because the U. S.Supreme Court, the nation’s court of last resort, denied the appeal without comment.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Bradley Manning and Webster Smith, Two Young Men Forced To Stand Before The Bar Of Military Justice.

An Army Article 32 Investigating Officer has recommended that the charges against Bradley Manning be referred to a general court-martial. An article 32 Investigation is the equivalent of a civilian grand jury. In the military it is convened under the authority of Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

So, it is official. A military tribunal will be convened in this case. This is the Friday the 13th Double Whammy for Bradley Manning. These military tribunals will probably become more common under the Imperial Presidency of Barack Obama now that he has the legal authority to detain indefinitely without trial anyone considered a terrorist.

It would be wise for most American to become acquainted with the UCMJ and its procedures. This is the same type of forum that was used to convict Cadet Webster Smith at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy for alleged sexual assault. And it is the same type of forum that will be used to try the cadets at the U. S. Air Force Academy who were charged earlier this week with alleged sex crimes.

A book about the Webster Smith case describes the UCMJ procedure from pre-trial investigation all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is entitled “CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady”. It is available in Kindle format from Amazon.com and can be read for free on a Kindle reader.

(http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2)

The charges against Private Manning include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud.

If convicted, Manning, an army private before the WikiLeaks furor erupted, could be sentenced to life in prison. Webster Smith was sentenced to 6 months in prison, a bad conduct discharge, and separation form the armed forces. He was also required to register as a sex offender in the State of Texas.

The recommendation followed a seven-day Article 32 Investigation to determine if there was sufficient evidence to try the 24-year-old private from Oklahoma. The IO found that there was probable cause to proceed to a trial.

Manning is accused of giving WikiLeaks a massive trove of US military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, 260,000 classified State Department cables, Guantanamo detainee assessments and videos of US air strikes.

Trained on various intelligence systems, Manning served in Iraq from November 2009 until his arrest in May 2010.

The anti-secrecy website began releasing the military documents in July 2010. It dumped the entire archive of diplomatic documents in September 2011, causing huge embarrassment to U.S. Government.

It is alleged that contact information for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, military reports, cables and other classified material had been found on computers and storage devices used by Manning.

Our commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, has publicly declared Manning guilty before he has had his day in court. One would have expected a former Constitutional law professor to show more respect for the presumption of innocence that an accused is afforded under the U. S. Constitution. This could sure taint any potential jury pool.

In his closing argument at the Article 32 hearing, Manning’s civilian defense attorney David Coombs said the government “overcharged in this case”. He begged the IO to reduce the charges to just three counts that would carry a total of 30 years in prison.

The defense portrayed Manning as suffering during his deployment near Baghdad from emotional problems stemming from his homosexuality, which his superiors did nothing to remedy.

Cadet Webster Smith was placed in pre-trial confinement and forced to work at hard labor for 6 months before he was taken to a trial. Bradley Manning was jailed for more than a year and a half. He complained of being placed in solitary confinement, of bullying by guards, and of being subjected to an ultra restrictive regime at the US military prison at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia just outside of Washington,DC.

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.