Pentagon to Study Whether Generals and Admirals Need More Ethics Training

Sunday, December 09, 2012
John Allen, William Ward, David Petraeus, Jeffrey Sinclair

In the wake of several high-profile scandals involving misconduct by top brass—including the extramarital affair of Gen. David Petraeus, accusations of financial mismanagement against Gen. William E. Ward of Africa Command, and the case of Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, formerly the deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, who is facing charges of forcible sodomy and multiple counts of adultery—the Defense Department is mulling whether its flag officers need ethics training.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has tasked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead the ongoing review. A week ago, Dempsey submitted a preliminary report to Panetta concluding that generals and admirals receive adequate ethics training, but that the Defense Department should begin that training earlier in their careers.


Misconduct by the military brass is nothing new, and the Pentagon’s inspector general reviewed 38 cases of alleged wrongdoing by senior officials in 2011, substantiating the allegations in almost 40% of them, up from 21% in 2007. The total caseload for 2012 is on track to exceed last year’s, and the increase in cases has caused the IG office to create nine new positions over the past two years to bring its team of investigators to 26.


In his preliminary report, Dempsey also suggested that the Joint Chiefs review the staffing, travel privileges and other perquisites provided to senior officers, who often travel in corporate-style jets and have their own cooks, drivers and dozens of aides who perform personal errands. Such cushy treatment can be addictive, leading to a sense of personal superiority and entitlement. General Ward, for example, is accused of using government money to pay for a deluxe lifestyle, including personal travel expenses; assigning staff to run errands for him and his wife; and accepting meals and Broadway tickets from a defense contractor in violation of Pentagon rules.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Pentagon to Review Perks for its Leaders (by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post)

Accusations against Generals Cast Dark Shadow over Army (by Ernesto Londoño, Washington Post)

Why did FBI Use Taxpayer Time and Money to Do Socialite Jill Kelley a Favor? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

4-Star General Faces Possible Demotion for Wasteful Spending (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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