One thing I despise is when a rash political decision to appease a social agenda is not thought through and ends up affecting men and women who seek to serve with honor and distinction.Such is the case with the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — which became highly politicized by outside advocacy groups. Because it was more important for the Obama administration to give political payback to a small advocacy group — without considering the extensive ramifications of repealing the policy — basically the military was told to make it happen and report success. And now have a serious issue adversely affecting a stellar Army commander.
Consider the case of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Downey. As the Thomas More Law Center reports, “LTC Downey has given his country and the Army 24 years of distinguished service, including over 1,000 combat flight hours during three combat tours of duty. He has been awarded 3 Bronze Stars and 7 Air Medals, one with a “V” device for valor in combat. The Air Medal with “V” device was awarded for valor he displayed on May 25, 2011 in “complete disregard for his own safety while initiating multiple engagements against an enemy with superior fields of fire over friendly forces.”
“His actions were decisive in saving the lives of soldiers on the ground.” LTC Downey was selected ahead of officers from all three of the other major services to become the Presidential Airlift Coordinator for the White House in Washington, D.C. from 2008 to 2010. While serving at the White House, Downey’s direct supervisor described him as “clearly in the top one percent of the handpicked officers of the White House Military Office Operations Directorate and in all of the Lieutenant Colonels I have known in my 20 years of military service.” From 2010 to 2012, LTC Downey returned to combat as an Aviation Task Force Squadron Commander in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.”
“Under his direction, his unit exceeded Army maintenance standards enabling an unprecedented 3,000 missions executed and 30,000 flight hours flown in the most complex and dangerous region of Afghanistan, the Kunar Valley. Additionally, under his command, the unit won two national level awards in one year, an achievement repeated only once before in the history of the awards: The Ellis D. Parker Aviation Unit Award for the Top Combat Unit of the Year, which recognized that the unit operated in one of the most challenging and helicopter-dependent areas of operation while sustaining the finest safety record of any Aviation unit in theatre; and The Army Aviation Association of America Active Aviation Unit of the Year Award, which recognized that his unit flew in excess of 30,000 accident free hours in some of the most inhospitable flying terrain in the world. LTC Downey was rated as the best Aviation Task Force Commander in all of Regional Command East. He was slated to attend the National War College well before his peers.”Without a doubt this is the exact type of combat leader we need in our U.S. Army at a time when the command of attack helicopter assets will be critical in the fight against Islamo-fascism, Islamic jihadism, and terrorism — as well as what may become a direct confrontation with Iran and Russia.
However, this stellar Army officer is now being stripped of everything he has dedicated his life to in the most heroic manner. According to the Thomas More Law Center, “LTC Downey has faced an Article 15 hearing for assault consummated by battery and violation of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The commanding officer, General Mark Milley, found LTC Downey guilty of the charges. As a result, LTC Downey was issued reprimands for both violations, relieved of command, issued a negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER), and removed from the attendance list of the National War College.”
Now of course reading this you have to wonder, what did this warrior do that was so heinous? Well, the story is appalling.As reported by Yahoo News, “LTC Downey’s attempted to prevent two female officers under his command, a Captain and a Lieutenant, who were in uniform at a formal military ball and were on the dance floor engaged in prolonged French kissing, taking off each other’s uniform jackets, and other intimate conduct, from violating Army regulations regarding public display of affection. Once he became aware of the situation, LTC Downey took immediate action to stop the inappropriate behavior. He also attempted to prevent other soldiers from photographing and videotaping the officers’ inappropriate conduct, which he believed would embarrass the officers and affect the good order and discipline of his unit. In the process of lowering the camera of an enlisted soldier, the camera accidentally made contact with the soldier’s nose.”
You must understand there were two violations being committed by these female officers — first they were of the same command — one with superior rank — and secondly, they were in violation of the regulation regarding what we call PDA (Public Display of Affection) — any good Battalion Commander would have sought to rectify this situation.And if it had been two enlisted members, probably the battalion command sergeant major would have taken action. As well, LTC Downey sought to prevent any spectacle of an event occurring, which of course, knowing social media today, this would have appeared on You Tube affecting the good order, discipline and reputation of his unit. What LTC Downey did was commendable — and should have never been brought up on charges.
However, this is the new PC military. Yahoo News writes, “the alleged victim of the assault never accused LTC Downey of assault. In fact, he stated that he was not the victim of an assault, and that he knew LTC Downey never intended to harm him. Moreover, the investigating officer appointed by General Milley found that LTC Downey did not intend to injure the soldier, but was motivated by the desire to protect the privacy of the two officers involved and the unit’s reputation. The investigator also found there was a positive command attitude and climate regarding repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
“LTC Downey’s Article 15 hearing was held in a conference room on May 30, 2012. LTC Downey appeared without his assigned military lawyer because she was told by General Milley’s lawyer that the hearing would merely be a “commanders’ conversation.” She advised Downey that her presence would make him “appear weak.” The hearing lasted 5 hours.”
There is no such thing in UCMJ proceedings as a “commanders conversation.” What ended up happening was complete violation by General Milley of the standard of undue command influence. In an Article 15 hearing you are asked if you wish to waive your legal representation — the commanding officer does not order the assigned defense attorney to not be present.
Yahoo News reports “General Milley appeared at the hearing flanked by two of his staff lawyers who sat adjacent to him while LTC Downey sat alone in the middle of the room with no representation. LTC Downey was asked legal questions, which he was not qualified to answer. He was also ordered to view a loose leaf binder of random photographs which had been taken throughout the night of the formal ball and characterize the behavior of the individuals depicted in the photos as “appropriate” or “inappropriate.” Although the enlisted soldier LTC Downey was alleged to have assaulted was in the hall, he was not called as a witness. The two lesbian officers he allegedly discriminated against were not called.”
General Milley has grossly overstepped his bounds as a commanding officer and his undue command influence can only be explained by concern over adverse media attention, offending homosexual advocacy groups, and contradicting the Department of Defense’s position that repeal of DADT was being successfully implemented.
And to make matters even worse, Yahoo News says “despite a Show Cause Board’s positive determination LTC Downey’s retention, his remarkable accomplishments, and consistently stellar reviews from his superior officers, a Selective Early Retirement Board, which convened this week November the 12th, will decide whether LTC Downey should be forced to retire.”
What is becoming of our U.S. Army? The Army — as we reported — is opening up an investigation to appease a radical atheist named Mikey Weinstein and about to forcibly retire a highly decorated combat attack helicopter pilot — over unsubstantiated charges!
LTC Downey’s case has now been taken up by the Thomas Moore Law Center (TMLC) — who also took up the case of another decorated Army combat leader, LTC Matthew Dooley, excoriated because CAIR and other Islamist groups complained about his course material at the Armed Forces Staff College. With full disclosure, I am on the Board of TMLC and based upon the cases of LTCs Dooley and now Downey, proud to be so.
TMLC has brought forth a federal lawsuit on behalf of LTC Downey. TMLC trial counsel Erin Kuenzig is one of the attorneys representing LTC Downey. Kuenzig explained, “A fair and impartial review of the facts leads to only one conclusion—that LTC Downey has always acted to protect the well-being of his soldiers, his unit, and his country and should never have been penalized for doing the right thing. We are asking the Court to review all of the due process violations and violations of Army regulations that led to such an unjust result in this case.”
This is just another example of how the politics of social egalitarianism and “fairness” ends up violating good policy and regulations in our military. LTC Downey should not become a casualty on the battlefield of politics and political correctness. And U.S. Army General Mark Milley — a decorated combat veteran and U.S. Army Special Operations qualified leader — needs to explain his undue influence and disregard of the facts in this case.
Something just tells me that it was not General Milley — but undue command influence coming from a higher level. Please, submit your calls to the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno. This travesty must end.