- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2013

Top military commanders have been pulled away from leading their services to listen to accusations and allegations about sex (“Sen. Saxby Chambliss: ‘Gee whiz,’ male hormones drive sex assaults in military,” Web, June 5).

Some of the critics are lawyers who are not familiar with the military and want to score political points by making female voters incensed. As a young officer, I learned that commanding officers are responsible for all that happens or fails to happen. Commanding officers have great responsibilities and sometimes make split decisions under the most difficult conditions, which involve the lives of many people, much property and expensive equipment.

Commanders adhere to the highest standards of leadership and carry out their oath to support and defend the Constitution faithfully in dealing with all other matters, including legal ones. They are fully capable of weighing and judging criminal matters of assault and harassment. But Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has endorsed at least some of Congress‘ proposed changes, which would circumscribe command authority to set aside findings of guilt after trial.

Yet the highest-ranking legal officers of all five branches of the armed forces testified in support of commanders retaining their sole discretion. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, himself a judge advocate in the Air Force Reserve, warned congressional colleagues not to “over-indict the system.” In the past, concerns about military law have been that it was too harsh and stacked against the accused. Recently, military law has been considered too soft by some members of Congress in sexual matters, and therefore all or most of it has to be re-evaluated, they say.

Statistics show that sexual violence and harassment have increased with all Congress‘ social engineering based on sex, race and sexual orientation. Now is not the time to undermine military law, while commanding officers have to deal with many previously unknown social and sexual issues in the armed forces, where they do not belong.

LT. COL. DOMINIK GEORGE NARGELE

U.S. Marines (retired)

Arlington