Unseemly - Part II

Unseemly? - Part II:

In comments to two posts below, I raised the question of whether SGT Aguina behaved in an unseemly manner when he showed up at Yearly Kos in his class A's to make the point he had to make. Several commenters agreed that he did, some quite forcefully. I'd like some help in exploring why. My jumping-off point is Grim's response:
In answer to your question about whether it was "unseemly," I'll say no, for this reason: the panel discussion was explicitly on a military topic.

Any other part of Yearly Kos, yes, it would have been unseemly to wear the uniform to it. It's a partisan political conference, one that features repeated calls for the impeachment of the Commander in Chief; even to attend that puts a uniformed military member in an odd position. (I say that having received some guidance from a sergeant about how to present myself when asked about our CiC, Clinton: "The only thing you should ever say about him is, 'I support the Commander in Chief.'" The military oaths make that explicit, so it's simply a direct and honest answer, regardless of politics.)

However, given that this panel discussion was about military topics, I think it was proper to wear a legitimate military uniform to address it. The military normally has to keep out of politics, but it does have a legitimate role in speaking to policy matters that affect it -- for example, a question like "should Congress approve funding for the Crusader system?"

By the same token, even a partisan political panel about military affairs is legitimate for a uniformed military man to address. So long as he is obedient to the law, shows due respect for the chain of command and makes clear that he speaks for himself and not the Army, I see nothing unseemly about his wearing the uniform there.
I'll explain my problem in a roundabout way. I have noticed that some Presidential candidates like to run, not on specific policies and proposals, but as "keepers of the secret knowledge." Wes Clark was a prime example: the main focus of his campaign was the fact that he was a general, and presumably had technical knowledge and insights that most of us don't have, which (so the implication went) would make him strong on foreign policy. Ross Perot was much the same, with respect to his business experience and economic policy. I hated those campaigns. The level of grand strategy where the President must operate, and where much of the political debate takes place, goes far beyond the kind of operational judgment a successful general must make; and "I'm the man who knows because of my military experience" simply isn't satisfying. If it's presented the wrong way, it becomes an intimidation tactic - "Don't argue with me because you never did my job" - and an ineffective one at that.

Now, if you show up at a meeting like that to make a point like that with your uniform on, to me you're saying, "You need to listen to me, because I know what I'm talking about, because of who and what I am." That might, as Grim says, be all right in the case of (let's say) an artilleryman commenting on the effectiveness of a new gun - his technical knowledge and his experience really matter in determining what weight to give his opinion. But SGT Aguina wasn't arguing from technical knowledge or experience; he was arguing from publicly available information (and, indeed, inviting the attendees to access it) about Iraqi casualties. His choice of uniform looked like an intimidation tactic aimed at most of the people at the conference. And that is why it seems unseemly to me, or at least why I think it does - because that's not what the uniform is for.

What do you think?
It's Sunday, I'm bored, and you never know what you'll find on the interntet.

Bikini Girls with Machine Guns

(hat tip: American Digest)

Same facts - separate question

Same Facts, Separate Issue:

I asked this in comments below but decided it made more sense as a separate thread. With respect to the Yearly Kos Exchange, as a matter of manners and morals, and leaving aside all UCMJ questions, was the sergeant's wearing of his uniform while making that statement in that forum unseemly?

Q for Blawggers

A Question for our Blawgers:

Can I get one or both of you military lawyers to look this over, especially the video, and give me a read on it? There's apparently a question of whether this soldier crossed the line or not; and if not, how close to the line he came.



After a lengthy absence I have finally found time to contribute to this fine blog. I returned from a seven and a half month deployment to Fallujah, Iraq with 2/8 at the end of February. Upon my return I took about two months of leave to relax and spend time with the family. When I have not been spending quality time with the family or getting set up in my new billet I have been riding my new Black Denim Harley Davidson Street Bob as often as I can. Although I am not a cowboy like Grim, I do fancy my self a Motorcycle Cowboy.

It will be good to once again contribute to the weighty issues discussed here in the Hall. As the political theater over Iraq continues in congress and the 2008 general election approaches the battle over the direction the Republic will take is heating up. In fact, as I observe the political landscape in the aftermath of my last deployment to Iraq the words of Johnny Cash’s song, The Big Battle, come to mind.

"No son the battle’s not over, the battle has only begun.The rest of the battle will cover the part that has blackened the sun.The fight yet to come is not with cannon, nor will the fight be hand-to-hand No one will regroup the forces, no charge will a general command.

The battle will rage in the bosom of mother and sweetheart and wife. Brother and sister and daughter will grieve for the rest of their lives. Now go ahead, rise from your cover, be thankful that God let you live. Go fight the rest of the battle for those who gave all they could give.

I see sir the battle’s not over, the battle has only begun, The rest of the battle will cover this part that has blackened the sun. For though there’s no sound of the cannon and though there’s no smoke in the sky, I’m dropping the gun and the saber and ready for battle am I."

Speaking of great country music, I thought I would bring to everyone’s attention some great acts that need more recognition. Right now I am listening to Kevin Fowler and Trent Summar. I wish music like this would get more airplay than the suburban pop that currently dominates country music radio. Fans of Southern Rock should check out the Drive By Truckers.