Career Penalties & “Zero Tolerance”

Career Penalties and “Zero Tolerance”

A February 2010 incident involving Family Research Council President (and former Marine) Tony Perkins presaged what could happen if the LGBT Law is passed and implemented with “zero tolerance” of anyone who disagrees for any reason.  An invitation to Tony Perkins to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews AFB was withdrawn shortly after FRC criticized President Barack Obama’s push for repeal of the 1993 law:

CNS News reported more about the Air Force Chaplain Office’s chilling response to the controversy:

  • Air Force Retracted Invitation for Conservative Leader to Speak at Prayer Luncheon After He Criticized Obama’s Position ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The Chaplain Office’s misguided decision to disinvite Mr. Perkins from an Andrews AF Base event is a cautionary tale.  It demonstrates how the policy of “zero tolerance” of disagreement would work against people of faith if Congress votes to repeal the 1993 law.  Republican leaders took notice and registered a protest:


* * * * * * *

This an excerpt of a book chapter by CMR President Elaine Donnelly titled “Defending the Culture of the Military,” published in May 2010 by the Air Force University Press as part of a book titled Attitudes Are Not Free: Thinking Deeply about Diversity in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Footnotes are in sequence but different from the original text, which begins on page 249, linked above.  

The Intolerance of “Zero Tolerance”

Once the military establishes an issue as a matter of “civil rights,” it does not do things halfway.  Passage of the new LGBT law would introduce corollary “zero tolerance” policies that would punish anyone who disagrees.  Any military man or woman who expresses concerns about professed (not discreet) homosexuals in the military, for any reason, will be assumed “intolerant” and suspected of harassment, bad attitudes, or worse.  Attitudes judged to be unacceptable will require disciplinary action and denials of promotions—penalties that end military careers.

Enforcement of the gay agenda in the military would be particularly divisive among men and women whose personal feelings and convictions are thrown into direct conflict with the new LGBT law and the corollary zero tolerance policy.  Among the first to be affected would be chaplains of major religions that disapprove of homosexuality for doctrinal or moral reasons.  These would include major denominations of the Jewish, Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox), and Muslim faiths.  Likely issues of conscience would include personal counseling of same-sex couples and requests to perform marriages or to bless civil unions between same-sex couples.

The language of Section 654, Title 10 is completely secular, but individual service members who are practicing members of the religions mentioned above also would face choices involving matters of conscience.  These would include the accommodation of same-sex couples in married/family housing and the introduction of personnel and curricula that promote the homosexual agenda in military base schools and childcare centers.

 Even those who do not see this as a moral issue could be affected by cultural changes and mandates associated with official zero tolerance of dissent. At the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing on 23 July 2008, a member of the committee asked retired Army Sgt Maj Brian Jones, who was testifying in support of the 1993 law, whether he saw the issue as a matter of religious conviction.

Jones, a former Ranger and Delta Force soldier who rescued fallen colleagues in the 1994 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia, said that readiness for combat was his most important concern.1  Mid-career and non-commissioned officers who are key leaders in combat-oriented communities could be hit with severe zero tolerance penalties just for expressing opinions similar to those of Brian Jones.  Among these would be potential four-stars and senior NCOs who are needed to lead the military of tomorrow.

Carrots, Sticks, and Zero Tolerance Taken to Extremes

In a May 2009 report promoting a road map for repealing the 1993 law, the Palm Center provided insight into social difficulties that the activist group expects the military to overcome with conscious coercion.2  In a three-page section of that report, subtitled “Organizational Changes that Should Accompany Policy Change,” the authors used variations of the word “implementation,” “enforcement,” or “compliance,” often in tandem with the word “problems,” no less than 35 times.3

The largely civilian leaders of the Palm Center based their recommendations not on military history or experience, but on “social science research that has focused specifically on sexual orientation and on the open service of gays and lesbians in militaries abroad.” Recommendations proceed from an erroneous premise, suggesting that military organizational culture is essentially a “theme” related to successful inclusion of racial minorities.4  The inapt comparison underlies an apparent plan to redefine military culture as a means to advance social goals, not to achieve military objectives—that is, deterring or winning wars.

In this paragraph of the Road Map Report, the Palm Center confirmed consequences of zero tolerance that would have devastating effects on the culture of the military:

Compliance with the new policy will be facilitated to the extent that personnel understand that enforcement will be strict and that noncompliance will carry high costs, and thus perceive that their own self-interest lies in supporting the new policy.  Consequently, the implementation plan should include clear enforcement mechanisms and strong sanctions for noncompliance, as well as support for effective implementation in the form of adequate resources, allowances for input from unit leaders for improving the implementation process, and rewards for effective implementation.  Toward this end, the Defense Department should work to identify the most potent “carrots” and “sticks” for implementing the new policy.5 (emphasis added)

Under such a regime, the “most potent” career “carrots” would reward commanders who embrace the new law enthusiastically. Civilian and military commanders would be required to interpret and apply the law in all stages of training, education, and deployment and to do so under threat of career penalties if they fail to make it “work.”

Career incentives for superior officers—recommended by the Palm Center as “carrots,” “self-interest,” or “rewards for effective implementation”—could create conflict with the expectation of “accurate information about implementation problems.”6  Human nature being what it is, some officers might be tempted to advance their own careers by reporting no issues of concern under the new law, even if they are aware that subordinates are experiencing demoralizing problems.

Other commanders might fear that accusations of unacceptable attitudes and poor leadership could sink their careers if they take the side of a heterosexual person over a homosexual one.  The appearance of self-interest in the decisions of superior officers—an element that the Palm Center considers a positive thing—would undermine the bond of vertical cohesion and trust that must exist between commanders and the troops they lead.

Disciplinary “sticks,” described as “strong sanctions for noncompliance,” would deny promotions and end the military career of anyone who disagrees for any reason.  This would force out of the military thousands of junior officers and enlisted personnel who are the land, sea, and air combat commanders, chiefs of staff, and senior enlisted advisors of tomorrow.

Involuntary losses of good people would compound the harmful effects of shortages caused when others decline reenlistment or avoid military service in the first place.  It is impossible to justify the potential loss of valued future leaders such as this, incurred just to satisfy the demands of determined homosexualists and their civilian allies in academia and the media.

* * * * * * *

Thomas More Center attorneys, headed by noted former Michigan Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson, frequently has defended or filed lawsuits defending the legal rights of military personnel and law enforcement officers.  Thompson has expressed concerns about the legal consequences of new regulations and policies that revoke current regulations and impose the LGBT agenda on our military:
WorldNetDaily: Analysis: Repealing ‘Gay Ban’ Would ‘Paralyze’ Forces

* * * * * * *
1 USA retired Sgt Maj Brian Jones testimony. House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Personnel, 110th Cong., 23 July 2008, available at
2 “How to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizations Steps to Equal Treatment,” Michael D. Palm Center, University of California Santa Barbara, CA, May 2009, hereafter referred to as the Palm Road Map Report.
3 Palm Road Map Report, 19–21.
4.The Palm Road Map Report suggests that “a new policy will work best if personnel are persuaded that it will not be harmful to the armed forces or to themselves, and may even result in gains.  Toward this end, explanations of the new policy should be framed using themes reflecting military culture, such as the military’s pride in professional conduct, its priority of mission over individual preferences, its culture of hierarchy and obedience, its norms of inclusion and equality, and its traditional ‘can do’ attitude,” 19.
5 Ibid., 20.
6 Ibid., 21.
MCC Leaders Request Investigation of Army General’s Remarks
Lt Gen BostickLeaders of the Military Culture Coalition (MCC) have requested a formal Inspector General investigation of an incident reported by the Washington Times, in which Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick allegedly made intemperate remarks criticizing and threatening to exclude servicemembers who support the current law regarding homosexuals in the military.  

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, and Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, submitted a formal request for the Army Inspector General to investigate the reported incident on October 13, 2010. On September 16, a Washington Times editorial reported that General Bostick made derogatory remarks against servicemembers while addressing 500 military personnel and civilians at an Army base in Stuttgart, Germany in August. 

Bostick currently serves as co-chairman of the policy committee for the Pentagon’s “Comprehensive Review Working Group” (CRWG).  He was in Stuttgart to discuss the issue of gays in the military, and to seek opinions on how to implement repeal of the 1993 law that is usually mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  A Defense Department spokesman denied that the general had used inflammatory words, but the Washington Times nevertheless published two signed letters from individuals who said they had witnessed the event and were disturbed by it. 

In their letter to Acting Army Inspector General Maj. Gen. William H. McCoy, Donnelly and Gaffney cited seven reasons why the Army should conduct an investigation to determine what General Bostick said.  They said the matter is urgent because Lt. Gen. Bostick is a key leader in the Pentagon’s Working Group established by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates earlier this year to “assess the impact” of repeal of the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service. 

This is a summary of the seven reasons, which are described in greater length in the Donnelly/Gaffney letter to the Army IG:

1.   Gen. Bostick’s alleged comments reflect a discriminatory attitude toward anyone harboring or expressing opinions contrary to the inclusion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) personnel in the military, and suggested career-ending penalties for such opposition.

2.   Gen. Bostick’s comments amounted to a threat, and for that reason require investigation to determine exactly what was said, and to protect those who reported the statements from reprisal.

3.   Though the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a denial from Gen. Bostick, it has produced no evidence to repudiate the reports.  Again, an investigation is required in order to determine exactly what happened.

4.   Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey have called for an investigation through the DoD Inspector General.  Due to the dual role of Mr. Jeh Johnson, who is the DoD General Counsel as well as a Co-Chair of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, interactions between the various offices create the appearance of a conflict of interest that must be countered by an independent investigation.

5.   The Center for Military Readiness has received several comments (See Attachment B)  indicating the CRWG process has established a pattern of taking sides in favor of the advocates of repeal, to the exclusion of others who disagree for any reason.   The possible presence of such bias requires an independent investigation.

6.   The MCC has received reports of slide presentations outlining plans for the CRWG process and its subgroups, and for implementation of a new non-discrimination policy should Congress repeal the 1993 law.  The possible existence of these and other documents relating to this topic may have contributed to the alleged statements of Gen. Bostick. An investigation is required to determine the existence of any such materials and should any be discovered, all should be made public.

7.   Gen. Bostick’s alleged comments call into question his objectivity in his continued role as policy committee co-chair for the CRWG.  An investigation is required in order to protect the integrity of the CRWG report, which is due on December 1.

The office of the Army Inspector General acknowledged receipt of the request for investigation, but no action has been taken to date.

The Donnelly-Gaffney MCC letter of request for a formal investigation to the Army IG, along with its accompanying attachments, can be found at the following links:

Request for Army Inspector General Investigation of Reported Incident Involving Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, USA

Attachment A-Timetable of Events

Attachment B-Participant Observations on CRWG Focus Groups