Wear your Reflective Belt on the Internet
By Leonard Benton
First and foremost, the internet is not a place to tread lightly. Anything is available on the web to suit any desire, taste, and apparently you can also find career advancement if you are a busybody with nothing to do but get offended at other peoples nonsense.
Good order and discipline in the military is a beautiful and righteous thing, and bad behavior on the internet is just as bad as in person for a soldier. What would not be tolerated in formation, will not be tolerated online.
Internet Security 101 — if you are going to be a moron online, try not to disrespect your uniform when you do it. Unless you have a DD214 in hand, and past the end date, you are on duty 24/7, and if you act like a fool, you can be called on the carpet and punished for it.
By that standard, anyone who points out misbehavior should get a nice pat on the head for stopping those bad people on the internet, and it should end there. But apparently you can earn medals for outing bad behavior in your spare time, especially if you reach into the official stratosphere of the military and get to the general officer level on your first try.
We all know that General Officers obey every standard of the rule book when it comes to sexual harassment and conduct. They set an example. I mean it. When I am past 45, I want to be just as randy as they are instead of a doddering old fool who can’t get it up.
There is a matter of courtesy to be considered however. It might be old school thought, but if you have a problem with a soldier from another unit, and you take the time to find out what that unit is and what the chain of command is, you contact them and let them handle it. Your responsibility started with the identification of the problem and ended with passing the information to the chain of command with UCMJ authority. It does not mysteriously include blasting information as high as you can reach.
And the result of this achievement, was an ARCOM. Imagine that. If that had been my unit, I would have handled my own soldiers, and then done my dead level best to stomp on the busybody who cannot understand that good order and discipline works both ways.
Were rules broken, yes? Are soldiers expected to be held to the standard at all times, yes? Are we at the day and age when a senior enlisted has time to troll the internet to find soldiers getting out of line and calling them on it, oh my god? An NCO calling out their own soldiers, I can accept that. Calling out, tracking down and finding information to start an investigation on soldiers in three different commands? If you are a senior NCO on the web trolling, who the fuck is doing your job while you are on the internet fishing for medals?
For one thing, as any decent NCO will tell you, USE THE CHAIN OF COMMAND. Yes, I shouted because it is important. If you take the time to track down units, have the fucking integrity to contact that unit chain of command to address the issue. Do not throw entire units under the bus by going straight to the highest command you can reach because you got your feelings hurt.
Talk about back stabbing unprofessional behavior. You do not fix a problem with morale, morals, standards, or integrity by getting the senior brass to crawl inside a unit command structure and tear it apart. Do soldiers get stupid on the internet? All the time. And the solution is to address the problem at the lowest level that is needed to address the issue and escalate only when that level fails to act.
The only time you use the most casualty producing weapon first is to kick off an ambush and kill as many as possible before they get their act together. This situation appears to me as nothing more than a carefully orchestrated career enhancing ambush of not one, not two, but three separate commands because someone got their feelings hurt on the internet.
There is a right way and a wrong way to correct behavior. This is the wrong way. Why is it the wrong way, because it was on the individual, not about the issue?
Sexual harassment and assault are important matters in the military. There is no time when behavior against a team member is acceptable to the individual, the mission, or unit cohesion. There is a lot of stupid out there that needs to be unlearned.
Instead of making this about correcting the deficiency, it was made into a personal, with emphasis on personal, crusade. It was not about the issue, it was about one individual who reached for the biggest hammer they could find to address the problem and all that says is “look at me.” This was not about good order and discipline. This outing was about pointing out someone else’s mistakes so that you look fabulous in comparison.
There is a line. It is not the right or wrong line; it is professional courtesy line to allow another senior NCO to clean house without catching heat rounds from the GO level.
This situation should not have been handled this way because it blows the entire situation out of proportion and ruins the motivation of the units involved. Soldiers have some right to privacy. If they blow that out the window by posting in uniform and acting like a fool, that does not make it right to compound the situation by blasting them with the highest ranking cannon you can find.
When you call for fire from God, expect shrapnel in your direction.