Letter that Air Force Generals Sent to the Senate Opposing allowing Military Lawyers to Decide Whether to Court Martial Sexual Assault Cases?

sexual-assault-lawyers-military

George K. Muellner
Lt. Gen., USAF (Ret.)
Chairman of the Board of Directors
November 13, 2013

Senator Carl Levin
269 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Levin,

I write as Chairman of the Board of the Air Force Association to urge that S.967, the “Military Justice
Improvement Act of 2013” not be included by amendment in S. 1197, the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense
Authorization Act. We believe the changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice in S. 967 would have a
devastating impact on our national security and military readiness by diminishing the vital role of commanders in
the military justice system.

We share congressional concern that sexual assault is a pervasive threat to our armed forces. If unchecked,
sexual assault could substantially undermine our nation’s ability to attract and retain the very best young men
and women to serve in the all-volunteer force. For that reason, in our professional military opinion there is no
substitute for committed and empowered commanders who engage their troops at every level of the chain of
command. Based on our careers leading Airmen at every level, we know commanders require the full authority
under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to back up their leadership skills with swift, fair discipline. Changing
military culture requires empowered commanders.

S. 967 would undermine the commander’s essential role by stripping away the ability to directly shape the
culture and climate of their command. Instead, the bill would give initial disposition authority over offenses to a
judge advocate officer of grade O-6 or higher outside the chain of command of the accused. It would require the
services to establish a separate centralized office to convene general and special courts-martial and detail judges
and members. It would remove the authority of senior military commanders to convene general courts-martial,
precisely the appropriate forum for adjudicating allegations of serious sexual assault and other offenses. It would
leave commanders without the ability to dispose of nearly two thirds of all offenses under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice.

We understand some lawmakers and scholars advocate removing disciplinary authority from commanders and
shifting disposition authority to judge advocates because some of our allies have made similar changes in their
military justice systems. While the United States has achieved great warfighting capabilities by working closely
with our allies, in our experience the requirements for our armed forces are substantially different from even our
closest allies in the scope and tempo of operational deployments. The recent Department of Defense Legal Policy
Board report on military justice in combat zones affirmed the need for the commander—the joint commander—
to have a central role in the administration of justice in a theater of operations. It concluded that the military
justice system is “the definitive commander’s tool to preserve good order and discipline, and nowhere is this
more important than in a combat zone.” For that reason we believe it would be imprudent to make fundamental
changes to the UCMJ simply based on recent changes by our allies, without first carefully evaluating the real
potential for devastating adverse effects.
The key to stopping sexual assault in the military is holding commanders at all levels accountable for their
command climate. Stripping away UCMJ authority from commanders would deprive them of the necessary
leadership role that accountability demands of leaders.

In closing, we thank you for your vital leadership on this issue and reaffirm our resolve that the best opportunity
to combat sexual assault within the United States’ armed forces is through responsible, accountable and
committed commanders.

Sincerely,

George K. Muellner
Chairman of the Board
Air Force Association

The following retired USAF members, including 112 general officers and 5 former Chief Master Sergeants of the
Air Force, agreed to sign onto this letter:

4 Stars
Gen. Mike Loh
Gen. Gene Renuart
Gen. Duncan McNabb
Gen. Chuck Boyd
Gen. Dick Hawley
Gen. Paul Hester
Gen. Ron Fogleman
Gen. Steve Lorenz
Gen. Earl O’Loughlin
Gen. Arthur Lichte
Gen. Eugene Habiger
Gen. Michael Hayden
Gen. John Handy
Gen. William Looney
Gen. Lance Lord
Gen. Lance Smith
Gen. Billy Boles
Gen. C.T. “Tony” Robertson
Gen. Ronald Yates
Gen. Charles Horner
Gen. Martin Marsh
Gen. James P. Mullins
Gen. William L Kirk
Gen. Kevin Chilton
Gen. Doug Fraser

3 Stars
Lt. Gen. Dick Newton
Lt. Gen. Mike Dunn
Lt. Gen. David Deptula
Lt. Gen. John Conaway
Lt. Gen. Michael E. Zettler
Lt. Gen. Robert D. Springer
Lt. Gen. Tom Waskow
Lt. Gen. Chuck Heflebower
Lt. Gen. Walter S. Hogle, Jr.
Lt. Gen. Dave Teal
Lt. Gen. Timothy A. Kinnan
Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III t. Gen. Arnold W. Braswell
Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins,
Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney
Lt. Gen. Thad A. Wolfe
Lt. Gen. Clifford H “Ted” Rees, Jr.
Lt. Gen. David L. Vesely
Lt. Gen. Don Snyder
Lt. Gen. Michael A Nelson
Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler
Lt. Gen. Charles Johnson
Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel

2 Stars
Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd
Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen
Maj. Gen. John Speigel
Maj. Gen. Edward J. Mechenbier
Maj. Gen. Rick Devereaux
Maj. Gen. Larry New
Maj. Gen. Silas R. Johnson, Jr.
Maj. Gen. John W. Brooks
Maj. Gen. Frank R. Faykes
Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson
Maj. Gen. William W. Hoover
Maj. Gen. Peter U. Sutton
Maj. Gen. Bobby J Wilkes
Maj. Gen. Jay H. Lindell
Maj. Gen. Keith McCartney
Maj. Gen. George N Williams
Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Egeland, Jr.
Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins II
Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke
Maj. Gen. George W. “Nordie” Norwood
Maj. Gen. Keith W. Meurlin
Maj. Gen. William R. Usher
Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hess
Maj. Gen. Richard B. Goetze, Jr.
Maj. Gen. Burton R. Moore
Maj. Gen. Dan Dick
Maj. Gen. Wm. L. Nicholson, III
Maj. Gen. Jack Catton
Maj. Gen. Richard E. Perraut, Jr.

BG:
BG Robert. E. Dehnert
BG Rudolf F. Peksens
BG James M. Shamess
BG Robert A. Norman
BG Daniel J. Sherlock
BG Duncan w. Campbell
BG Chester D. Taylor, Jr.
BG Jerry Landry
BG Sanford Schlitt
BG Stan Smith
BG Robert T. Osterthaler
BG Robert A. Hoffmann
BG Howard G. DeWolf
BG Raymond A. Shulstad
BG Duncan Campbell
BG Harold B. Adams
BG Joel M McKean
BG E. Daniel Cherry
BG Virgil Wayne Lloyd
BG Scott P. Van Cleef
BG Steven Speer
BG Edward N. Giddings
BG Robert C. Stumpf
BG Andrew W. Smoak
BG William R. Hodges
BG Gary A Ambrose
BG Walter C. Hersman
BG John W. Meincke
BG Jeffrey R. Johnson
BG Harold “Buck” Adams
BG Karl Kristof
BG Thomas E. Stickford
BG Monte Montgomery
BG Eden Murrie

CMSAFs:
CMSAF Gerald Murray
CMSAF Sam Parish
CMSAF Eric Benken
CMSAF Bob Gaylor
CMSAF James Roy

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