In an earlier article, I highlighted unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct as reasons cited by defense attorneys William L. Summers and R. Tucker Richardson III to warrant the dismissal of all charges against their client, Army Maj. Christian “Kit’ Martin. In this piece, however, I focus only on what those same attorneys wrote about the current political environment and the impact it’s having on members of the U.S. military.
Taking up almost three pages of the 37-page Motion to Dismiss document dated June 28, the attorneys’ words speak volumes not only about the case of Major Martin, 47, but also about others like him, including Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, an elite Green Beret combat veteran whose life story and wrongful conviction are chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.
Without further ado, I share the attorneys’ words below while taking the editorial liberty of deciphering some of the military jargon as needed and adding a few notes:
Major Martin’s case is just another example of how far some commanders are willing to go to gain political favor. Brigadier General Mark Stammer’s* Memorandum, Policy Letter 7 dated October 4, 2013, was posted on the Fort Campbell Portal and distributed to all commanders. It states that any allegation of domestic violence will result in immediate steps, including a 12 point checklist. It then states that these are the minimum actions commanders will take, they can make more if they wish (hint). The allegation does not have to be proved and no evidence is required. This is definitely a guilty until proven innocent policy and clearly shows BG Stammer’s inherent bias with regard to alleged domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
*NOTE: the attorneys referred to Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer as “BG Stammer,” because he was a a brigadier general at the time the document was submitted. Today, he serves as commander of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in Djibouti, located in East Africa.
Many commanders like Brig. Gen. Stammer are now circumventing standard Uniform Code of Military Justice procedures and overruling Investigating Officers as a means of covering themselves and preventing further congressional inquiry into changing the role of commanders in the UCMJ process. Some commanders are also sacrificing soldier’s careers and lives in order to gain political favor and earn their next star, as well as a means of facilitating the army downsizing process. The stench of elitism and double standards has most recently been revealed by the case of General (Ret.) David Petraeus. General Petraeus had an extra marital affair, maintained private Top Secret information at his home including undercover agent’s identities, Security Council notes, etc. and then went to his paramour’s house and turned over these same highly classified documents to her. After all of this he then lied about his actions to the FBI. In return he received only a two year probation and $100,000 fine. Compare his proven actions to MAJ Martin’s allegations of mishandling classified information and how his case has morphed from a divorce, to an EPO, to a spy investigation, and now into now a court martial with sexual allegations.
1. Presidential UCI
The Unlawful Command Influence of BG Stammer at Fort Campbell is just one of many military examples of UCI throughout the armed services starting with the Commander in Chief and working its way down. In fact a military court has already ruled that President Obama as Commander in Chief has exerted UCI. In the trial of United States vs. SH2 Ernest Johnson, the judge ruled that the President’s statements did constitute unlawful command influence.
The President stated “The bottom line is this; I have no tolerance for this, I expect consequences…they got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharge. Period.”
This is almost verbatim what has happened to MAJ Martin.
Judge Marcus N. Fulton** found that “the Presidents statement raises concern that a particular result is required and this impinges on a convening authority’s discretion to refer or not refer a case to court martial.” He also stated that “these words must be evaluated for their capacity to improperly influence or appear to influence those with roles” (in a court martial). The court found that the case of United States vs. Johnson and United States vs. Simpson that the Presidents statement did “present some evidence of unlawful command influence.” He further found that the Presidents statement “could be interpreted as administrative steps that ought to be taken in addition to the specified judicial action and punishment.” He also stated that “the overall atmosphere surrounding the topic of sexual assault in the military…tends to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the effect of the comments in question.”
**NOTE: One source for comments similar to those attributed to the judge above is this one.
Judge Fulton also said these statements “constitute some-indeed substantial-evidence that the President would tend to impinge on the discretion of the convening authority to come to an independent decision” (EX U Military Authority Article, EX V US. vs Ernst Johnson)
2. CSA General Odierno***
The Chief of Staff of the Army has stated that “Sexual assault is the greatest threat to our service.” As the U.S. Army is still engaged in combat operation in Afghanistan, Iraq, most of the Middle East, and facing huge potential adversaries in North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China, this shows how politically pressured senior commanders are to show they are taking sexual assault and domestic violence seriously. (EX W.)
***NOTE: General Odierno retired from the Army after the Motion to Dismiss was submitted. See also my video related to General Ordierno here.
3. BG Stammer
General Stammer asserted, that if assaults occur in his military jurisdiction, he insists that they stay there because he has-
“absolute trust, faith, and confidence in the chain of command and our judges that they will address these issues fairly and timely…The Commander… is the leader…he is singularly responsible… him and him alone…I am going to hold him personally accountable for doing his job. He is not going to have an excuse.” (EX X.)
In a June 16, 2013, article**** in the Fort Campbell Courier, General Stammer reportedly said,
“I believe that leadership responsibility and accountability are crucial to successfully addressing the sexual misconduct issue. Most important, we need responsible leadership to change the culture of even the slightest bit of tolerance for ill-disciplined and criminal behaviors.” (EX Y)
****NOTE: The article actually appeared in the June 6, 2013, issue of the cited newspaper.
4. Policy Letter 7
BG Stammer’s Policy Letter 7 shows blatant UCI in that it directs commanders to take negative actions against Soldiers based merely on an allegation, even if this is an obvious ploy by an ex-spouse, and even if they no longer live together. Among its many requirements it directs that commanders will issue a protective order, move the Soldier to the barracks, require them to turn in their private weapons, and consider separation from service. Commanders will also contact social workers, consult the Family Advocacy Program, trial counsel, the victim advocate program, etc. all based on one person’s allegation.
Another obvious example of BG Stammer’s UCI at Fort Campbell was the recent picture of a male soldier on an electronic billboard. The billboard was in front of the Family Resource Center directly across the street from the senior leadership housing at Gate 1, and the house of Acting Senior Commander BG Stammer. The message concerned sexual assault and depicted a male soldier, the sign read:
“Your new year’s resolution is to get the F$*K (bleep) away from him.” (EX Z.)
This billboard, along with BG Stammer’s public comments and interviews represent Undo Command Influence (UCI) of a personal interest and inflexible attitude toward Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Cases at Fort Campbell. (Article 37 sections III and IV). In January of 2015, the National Coalition for Men posted a picture of the billboard on their website and sent a letter to the CG, Major General Gary J. Volesky***** requesting the removal of the offensive picture and message, which thereafter rapidly occurred. (EX AA.)
*****NOTE: General Volesky is the commanding general at Fort Campbell now.
I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again: there’s much more to come for Major Martin, a man who put on his first military uniform as a private in 1986, marking the beginning of a career that would not only include serving as an Army Ranger, cavalry scout and attack helicopter pilot but also include becoming a Regular Army officer and serving three combat tours in Iraq.