Political Correctness Strikes (Again)
A few months ago, we reported on the troubles surrounding Brigadier General Johnny Weida, Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. General Weida ran afoul of the PC movement because he "tolerated" an environment within the cadet corps that supposedly favored Evangelical Christians. He further infuriated the PC police for a remark he made to cadets, stating that a military officer's first responsiblity "was to his god." Note the choice of words; while General Weida is a born-again Christian, he never said military officers should worship only the Christian God; his reference was to the supreme deity of any religious faith. It strikes me as sound advice for future military officers, who may someday lead men (and women) into battle.
More recently, Weida's name appeared on a list of Air Force officers nominated for promotion to Major General (two-star rank). However, the Senate Armed Services Committee, which must approve promotion lists, has failed to approve General Weida's promotion, along with two other Air Force brigadier generals. Sources indicate that Weida's name was removed from the promotion list because of faith-related issues at the academy, and yet another inquiry into the school's "religious atmosphere." It is unclear why the other officers were struck from the promotion list.
Disturbingly, a pair of officers with more serious career issues were approved for promotion by the Senate. Brigadier Generals Larry New and Mark Shackelford are on track to receive their second star, despite being fired from key posts earlier in their careers. As you'll recall, then-Colonel New was fired as an Operations Group Commander at Nellis AFB, NV in the late 1990s, after a flawed training and deployment program resulted in an overworked rescue squadron. The unit's problems culminated in a mid-air collision between two HH-60 helicopters that killed 12 crew members. Shackelford was also fired as a Colonel (when he ran the the F/A-22 Raptor fighter program), after auditors billions of dollars in cost overruns.
The logic of the Senate panel is difficult to fathom. If Weida's performance was not worthy of promotion, how can the committee justify the advancement of Generals Shackelford and New? Supposed religious intolerance in a training environment is one thing, but billions in cost overrruns and the preventable loss of aircraft and personnel is quite another. By that standard, any Air Force officer or NCO denied promotion for sundry offenses deserves another chance.
There is a possibility that General Weida's name will be added to the promotion list later, after the latest inquiry is completed. But don't bet on it. General Weida has become a lightning rod for the PC police, and they won't rest until his military career is over, and the last vestige of religious expression is banished from the Academy. And sadly, members of the Senate seem quite willing to support their witch hunt.
For the record: I do not know General Weida, nor did serve under him during my military career.