Former USAF Commander Predicts Exodus of Integrity, Courage
Tony Carr, a retired USAF Squadron Commander who is now a frequent public critic of the Air Force, wrote a piece on his John Q. Public blog excoriating Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh for the Air Force’s “new” attitude toward privacy. Carr quotes what he describes as the objectionable portion of Gen Welsh’s statement [emphasis added]:
We’ve captured the Air Force’s culture and standards in AFI 1-1. We all know 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on and off-duty, Airmen have signed up to live up to Air Force Standards and Core Values. Through all the different ways in which Airmen communicate and interact, respect and dignity are essential. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in person, by text, twitter, or the latest social media app, we are all personally accountable for what we say and post.
Carr objects to the implication that the Air Force will hold Airmen accountable for everything they say, even privately, with the only standard being vague allusions to “respect” — implying it will be a subjective moving target.
Of course, this is the same AFI citation Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has used as a sledgehammer to attack Christians in the US military who have the gall to publicly state the tenets of their faith. Weinstein’s logic goes that if someone makes a Christian statement that others might find objectionable in today’s ever-changing social norms — say, “homosexuality is a sin” — then that person has violated Air Force regulations, even if they make that statement in a private, unofficial, or even religious setting.
It’s an asinine accusation, but Weinstein is simply taking a similar stance on Gen Welsh’s statement as Carr does: If the Air Force holds Airmen to the same standard at all times, and if Airmen are not allowed to make religious statements at work, then Weinstein argues they shouldn’t be able to make them privately, either.
It seems people are finally realizing this “policy application,” which Carr calls overbroad and vague, can extend beyond topics on religion.
The natural question: If Carr’s position is correct, and this is an inappropriate application of military policy with regard to privacy, does that same logic undermine the policy’s application to statements associated with religion?
Notably, Carr says this ‘draconian’ policy will damage the Air Force [emphasis added]:
[This is] a radical philosophical departure from traditional American values and too steep a price to pay for a career in blue. The first to go will be those least willing to compromise principle to gain official approval. In other words, the first to go will be those with personal integrity and moral courage.
A departure from traditional American values that will result in an exodus by those with integrity and moral courage? That sounds like a familiar rationale for opposing a policy — though it was decried as sensationalist and bigoted when groups opposed the repeal of DADT.
Of course, if Carr and those opponents of DADT were even slightly correct, two data points could portend a trend of military policies culminating in a frustrating culture for those who have “personal integrity and moral courage.”
Staying in or enlisting into that culture is to accept an admirable challenge and could potentially influence the culture for the better.
Still, Carr may be right, and some may choose to exit — or simply not enter the military service to begin with — rather than engage that potentially hostile culture. And the US military may suffer as a result.