Failure of Command

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in response to the Navy Yard killings, remarked that there were a number of red flags missed in the background check of Navy contractor Aaron Alexis. "Ya think!"

In a similar vein, despite obvious terrorist overtones, the Department of Defense called the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 "workplace violence." Nidal Hasan was found guilty and has since been sentenced to death. Since his sentencing there been calls to label the violent Fort Hood attack against soldiers as the terrorism that it was.

Even the State Department employees found to have been involved with the Benghazi disaster have yet to face any disciplinary actions for their misconduct. As a result no response has ever been made for the premeditated terrorist attack against the United States ambassador and our US citizens further weakening our image aboard.

While these three incidents might appear to be separate and distinct, they actually represent a pattern of behavior of this administration in failing to deal with leadership and competence failures in government.

In an ever expanding desire to protect the reputation and political face saving of the administration, Obama, apparently, is willing to sacrifice American lives and the lives of those brave young man and women who have served our nation so faithfully.

The political correctness in Washington DC is and has been palpable for number of years but to even remotely consider Nidal Hasan’s actions as workplace violence is unbelievably disingenuous. His jihadist shouts at the time of the shooting, in and of itself, should have been sufficient evidence of the act of terrorism.

The lives and loving memories of those who died at Fort Hood and at the Washington Navy Yard demands that a full investigation be conducted into the reckless and immoral lack of leadership in the US Department of Defense, Department of State, and this administration to address obvious leadership failures in our government.

In the most recent case of the Department of Navy, Aaron Alexis obviously was a troubled person. What is more troubling, however, is that so many aspects of the security clearance system failed. "Red flags" were not missed. An entire system failed.

Sadly, it is also likely that the personnel reviewing Alexis’s security clearance will likely never be held accountable for their failure to utilize information that the press has obviously been able to discern shortly after the tragedy.

This failure of leadership to hold people accountable for their misconduct is one of the most important changes that must be made if we wish to reduce and likely stop these senseless tragedies.

In the case of Nidal Hasan, it is inconceivable that a full investigation has not led to charges of failure of leadership to have the moral courage to call him when he was – a terrorist. He should have been called a terrorist years before the 2009 shooting. His superiors need to be held accountable.

Nidal Hasan was a major in U.S. Army. He was responsible to protect those men and women whose lives he stole. His behavior reflects on all commissioned officers. Enlisted personnel have the right to demand that we protect them. The impact of his actions will be felt for decades to come.

The tragedy in Benghazi is the equivalent of abandoning a soldier or a Marine on the battlefield. There is no greater act of cowardice than what happened in Benghazi.

For the State Department not to hold those individuals accountable is nothing short of dereliction of duty from the President, then Secretary Clinton, and other members of the administration at the Department of State.

Leadership is taking care of those under our charge. It is a privilege to be able to lead. It is a great responsibility to lead. Leadership is about caring, accountability, and responsibility.

Failing to see red flags, either with the Washington Navy Yard shootings, the Fort Hood shootings, and the Benghazi disaster is a failure of leadership.

To not call the Fort Hood shooting an act of terrorism and to give full military benefits to those killed and injured at Fort Hood is a failure of leadership and a demonstration of the lack of moral courage to lead.

It is imperative that those accountable for such incompetence in the chain of command be disciplined, and removed from their positions. Anything short of that is a cover-up and a failure of leadership of the President of the United States.

There’s an old expression that we use in the military that’s very appropriate right now.

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!

Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at [email protected] and twitter at @fryan1951.