Unequal Military Justice is Good Policy
In Defense One, Butch Bracknell and I explain "Why 'Different Spanks for Different Ranks' Are Often Justified."
In Defense One, Butch Bracknell and I explain “Why ‘Different Spanks for Different Ranks’ Are Often Justified.”
The argument is complex and defies excerpting but here’s a taste:
A leading lawmaker has called out the Air Force for never trying a single general officer by court-martial in its entire history, suggesting it shows higher-ranking personnel face different standards of punishment. Indeed, courts-martial for flag and general officers in all four services are exceedingly rare, particularly in recent history.
Officers are, from selection and throughout their careers, held to much higher standards than enlisted personnel, particularly those in the lowest ranks. But more senior personnel are also accorded special treatment and do, in fact, avoid punishments for acts that, if performed by a junior enlisted member, would certainly result in trial by court-martial and often confinement, if convicted.
The more senior the soldier, the more they are held to high professional standards. They are expected to know their craft and set the right example for their subordinates. But they are also given much more credit for their past service and more benefit of the doubt for transgressions. Commanders, quite rightly, do not want to end the career of a good soldier, officer or enlisted, after 15 or 20 years of honorable service. Doing so would be not only demoralizing to subordinates, who will be signalled that their contributions, too, will be dismissed if they make one mistake, but the penalty is simply more harsh as time goes on―loss of retirement pay and the end of a chosen career.
The essay-in-full is over 1600 words.