Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Teflon General?

For most military members, a DUI conviction is a career killer. The offending soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coastie can often look forward to a reduction in rank, fines and additional punishment from civilian authorities. Once that process is complete, the military member will be denied re-enlistment, bringing their careers to a screeching halt. It is a fate that befalls hundreds of troops every year.

But not all military personnel are created equally. Once you reach the flag level, certain offenses no longer mean the end of a career. And, if you don't believe that, consider the case of Air Force Major General David Eidsaune.

General Eidsaune will face a Nevada judge on 13 May, on charges stemming from his recent DUI arrest. Eidsaune was arrested by police in Henderson, Nevada on the evening of 9 February, when on officer observed the general's rental car driving erratically. Earlier, police received reports of a Black Kia (driven by Eidsaune) going the wrong way and striking a curb.

Confronted by officers, General Eidsaune submitted to a field sobriety test and failed. Later tests revealed his blood alcohol level was 0.181, more than twice the legal limit in Nevada.

But Eidsaune won't be facing a courts-martial. A spokesman for AFMC said the Commander, General Donald Hoffman, has "taken appropriate action," though he wouldn't specify if Eidsaune has received non-judicial punishment, such as a letter of reprimand or admonishment.

Eidsaune has also moved to a new job at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where AFMC is headquartered. At the time of his arrest, General Eidsaune served as the command's Director of Air, Space and Information Operations (A-2). In mid-March, the command announced that Eidsaune would become AFMC's chief of Strategic Plans, Programs and Analyses (A-5). While both are two-star billets, the A-5 is slightly lower in the pecking order, so General Eidsaune's new job could be viewed as a (slight) demotion.

One wonders what might have happened if Eidsaune had been a mere Colonel, a company-grade officer or a senior NCO. Offenders in those categories would now occupy an empty office, biding their time before the imposition of serious punishment. Put another way: they wouldn't be serving in a senior billet while their case is being resolved. We also wonder how AFMC can justify Eidsaune's continued access to classified information; "lesser" individuals would likely lose their security clearances while the case is being adjudicated.

Keep an eye on Eidsaune after his court date in Nevada. General Hoffman may use that event to push the two-star out the door. Or the plans job may become Eidsaune's permanent home, a place for the general to bide his time until he finally decides to retire.

The last time Hoffman faced a misconduct scandal on his staff, the general fired his Command Chief Master Sergeant, William Gurney. The dismissal came after Gurney was accused of sexual misconduct with a number of women on his staff; the former command chief is now facing an article 32 hearing, which will determine if he will be court-martialed. General Eidsaune could face the same process after his Nevada court date, but don't count on it: most experts believe the senior officer has already been punished by the service.


Justin said...

I had a good troop who made a mistake one night and got a DUI. His clearance was pulled, he was busted from SPC to PV2 (Army), and after the civilian courts took their pound of flesh an Article-15 took even more money and time. A great soldier was just tired and burnt out after going through this ordeal, eventually he did get his clearance and rank back, but he was never the same.
And this General goes with seemingly no punishment? Way to set the example!

Jim Howard said...

That happened to a Captain in a unit I was in once. He went from the right seat of an F-111 to handing out volleyballs in the gym.

A three star back in the 90s also got a Nevada DUI, he got his fourth star.

Go figure.

unbekannte said...

It is not at all uncommon to cover for star level leaders who screw up.

I point to the Walter Reed situation. Then Surgeon General Kevin Kiley was responsible. There should have been an Article 32 investigation to determine if he should have been tried by court martial. There was no investigation.

Kiley was allowed to retire at star level rank and retain all his benefits