Acceptance of Rhetoric Solves Nothing
by Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin
- Working with Colonel David Hackworth, Colonel Martin played a pivotal role in forcing Army reforms in the 1990s.
On May 11th, Senator Durbin (D-IL) announced a virtual meeting with US Army Reserve (USAR) Commander Lieutenant General (LTG) Jody Daniels.
Senator Durbin learned in January 2020 of deep-rooted USAR problems involving a command headquartered in Illinois. The 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) was exposed for having covered up serious sexual abuses within subordinate units and willful failure to comply with scores of regulations. Eleven times, then-Commander Major General (MG) Miyako Schanely, received e-mail warnings that serious problems existed. She did absolutely nothing to address these problems and, as a result, has been suspended from commanding the 416th for the past year.
It was Senators Durbin’s and Duckworth’s January 2020 letter to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, addressing the 416th TEC’s situation that forced the corruption to be addressed. In that letter, as noted in this recent press release, the senators called for “a comprehensive review of the troubling allegations of mishandling sexual assault claims,” to determine if there was “reprisal against service member victims of sexual assault,” and “to ensure due justice.”
When forced to give the appearance of taking action concerning 416th TEC problems, then-USAR Commander, LTG Charles Luckey, inappropriately assigned an officer junior to MG Schanely to conduct a command inquiry. Once this illegality was exposed, active component LTG Jason Evans was assigned to an investigative mission. According to Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), this report was completed in June of 2020. Senator Durbin’s office is now being advised by HQDA that the report is “in final stages of review.”
The fact is this command inquiry has been sitting in the office of General (GEN) Michael Garrett, Commander, Forces Command, and going nowhere. The alleged “final stages of review” has already taken longer for GEN Garrett to complete than it took Gen. Omar Bradley to push the U.S. Army onto the beaches of Normandy and across Germany, while opposing one of the most powerful war machines in history.
Meanwhile, members of the 416th TEC are still enduring supervision problems and those responsible are still in charge, with the exception of the suspended (not fired –there is a difference) MG Shanely. At the same time, within the USAR, are at least two follow-up investigations conducted by 416th members/allies. The leads on both investigations are reservists with extensive ties to the 416th and its general officers. Those reports will clearly be “admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusation” when released.
The legitimate question is how can follow-up investigations be properly conducted while the initial investigation has not been released? The answer is that these investigations are the 416th TEC’s solution, which will consolidate all the adverse rumors that have come to life since the command’s corruption was exposed, misinformation, and self-protecting lies designed to push blame onto whistle-blowers, advocates, and the victims of sexual abuse. The intent is to create back-fires and scorch the earth (and, in turn, justice) with the purpose of protecting the senior officers.
While GEN Garrett is still in the “final stages of review” process, I have completed two independent investigations of the 416th and 739th Engineer Company, where the most serious problems occurred. The evidence used was extracted from computer records, witness statements, and official documents developed while the problems were going on. None of the documents I have are reverse engineered to fit a predetermined goal. I look forward to the day when I present these two reports to the United States Senate.
Unfortunately, this press release of the Durbin-Daniels virtual meeting brings back memories of the old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?” No details of the Daniels’ narrative were provided. Specific ongoing reforms within the Army Reserve that LTG Daniels supposedly provided were not shared. To date, both USAR Headquarters and 416th TEC public affairs have yet to respond to media queries.
I have no doubt LTG Daniels provided a “very sincere” brief to Senator Durbin in which she explained her “commitment to finding the truth” and “fixing the ills” of the Army Reserve. Doing this is nothing new, but rather well-established and time-proven methodology when talking to members of Congress. Accepting Army management rhetoric is not part of the solution, but rather helps perpetuate the problem.
The standard for a good officer to turn around a bad command in peacetime is ninety days. Expectation for this in combat is immediate. Closing in on a year in command, LTG Daniels has yet to properly identify the problems she inherited from Charles Luckey, despite what I am sure she presented to Senator Durbin. Trying to protect 416th senior officers at the expense of truth telling subordinates is not the solution.
Pleasant briefings to members of Congress, never-ending internal and external staff studies, additional training, and command-protecting investigations will not solve today’s problems within the ranks. Adult supervision by commanders not afraid to do the harder right over the easier wrong will solve all leadership problems within the US military, including sexual abuse.