What in the hell is going on at Fort Benning? Is the base command’s illegal and unethical behavior isolated, or is it emblematic of a disease which is creeping throughout the Army and DOD like a cancer? While it’s possible MG Donahoe, the installation’s commander who I’ve highlighted in depth as of late, may be the worst offender at the senior officer level (which I don’t believe to be the case) he is absolutely emblematic of a deeper symptom within the DOD. However, today we’re talking about the other half of his command team, Command Sergeant Major Derrick C. Garner.
Oddly enough, it’s hard to get a bearing on someone’s conduct and behavior when they’re not trying to be a C-List celebrity on social media (*cough* looking at you, Donahoe), but when your command is as dysfunctional and corrupt as the one at Benning, people are going to start passing secrets around openly. While I’d love to share the opinions of my sources who have reached out with information, I’m actually pretty particular about not publishing unsubstantiated slander, as correct as it may be. While it would be just about impossible for Donahoe to behave the way he does if he had a CSM who kept him in line, I’ll admit that I don’t have hard evidence to say whether or not CSM Garner enables his toxic boss or not. What I do have is the information regarding investigations into Garner’s own behavior, however.
About a year ago, multiple Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE) Command Group personal staff reported to the Department of Army Inspector General (DAIG, and I’m truly sorry for the ridiculous acronym salad I’ve unleashed on you) alleging that CSM Garner had directed them to unethically do a bunch of personal tasks. Some of the tasks he ordered them to do included taking his adult daughter to her local college classes, pick up his parents at the airport, pick up and drop him off at his quarters numerous times (which is a violation of the Joint Travel Regulation) and plenty more.
Like I said, they were allegations. The bigger issue here, beyond the implications of a CSM using his tax payer funded personnel like his personally hired staff, is how it was handled by the DAIG and subsequently swept under the rug. After the Inspector General delegated the investigation down to TRADOC and the Combined Arms Center, the investigation just magically disappeared. Could you not even pretend to do an investigation and declare the allegations unfounded? Was the effort of even PRETENDING to look into allegations of ethical and regulatory violations too difficult of a task?
No; the issue is that we have become a military lacking in accountability, an issue which has become the most publicly known “secret” at every echelon and rank. There isn’t a single servicemember in uniform who doesn’t know terms like “RHIP: Rank has it’s privileges,” or phrases like “rules for me, but not for thee.” It doesn’t matter how much evidence, or how many incidents, are leveled at these so called “leaders.” The DOD is simply not interested in holding senior leaders accountable. It’s a commonly known fact in the halls of the Pentagon that a story is only a story if it creates enough buzz on Twitter. Why Twitter vs. all of the other social media platforms? Well, I think we can all take a pretty good swing at that one….
I’m sure the un-precedented rate of suicides on Benning over the last two years, which were at the top of TRADOC as well as the Army’s overall list, have nothing to do with this, however. I guess my idea that an organization’s culture and morale start at the top of the food chain are just fantasies. Maybe for direct proof, go read this article, but I digress…