The stunning scandal that forced the resignation of CIA director David
Petraeus and entangled the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
General John Allen, has analysts trying to decipher what may have been
the causes of poor judgment, sexual improprieties and criminal acts
recently plaguing the military.
In the past year, senior officers in the U.S. military have been
investigated for adultery, bigamy, sodomy and other acts of misconduct.
On the same day General Allen became ensnared in the Petraeus scandal, a
former four-star general who once led the U.S. Africa Command, William
“Kip” Ward, was demoted for misusing taxpayer funds, military aircraft
“Well I think each individual case is serious. There is no doubt about
that," said David Maxwell, a retired Army colonel now serving as the
associate director of security studies at Georgetown University.
“Of course there is a lot more scrutiny now and a lot more access to
information than in the past. But my gut instinct would say that these
things have occurred in the past and they are probably not occurring at
any greater rate than they ever have in the past, but they are much more
Retired Army General David Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of
an extramarital affair.
General John Allen is being investigated for possible inappropriate
communication with a woman.
Kori Schake is a research fellow at Stanford University and an associate
professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
She says more than a decade of fighting wars has taken an enormous toll
on soldiers and their families. “Some of the bad judgment that we are
seeing is the result of weariness and people being asked a lot of for a
long period of time without much respite to lay their cares down. That
doesn’t by any means excuse those bad choices," she said.
Other analysts say an all-volunteer military force, representing about 1
percent of the nation, has separated those in uniform from the rest of
They say the lifestyle of top officers could encourage bad behavior.
Army Colonel Maxwell said, “To say that commanders at that level are
caught up in the trappings or in the pomp and circumstance of those
positions I think is a mischaracterization. Certainly some do, some have
and you can’t deny that. But the vast majority of them are focused on
U.S. Military Academy associate professor Kori Schake says in some
extreme circumstances commanders might believe they have earned the
right to disregard the rules of conduct.
“Some of them who have been deployed several times in the last ten years
doing very hard and dangerous work for the country sometimes feel that
nobody else is doing anything important for the country. And I think
that is actually quite dangerous. We don’t want a military that views
itself as different and better," she said.
Analysts say with the increased scrutiny of the officer corps, senior
leaders will need to be ever more vigilant about their behavior.