August 10, 2005


More Discipline Mulled for U.S. General Over Affair (Reuters, 8/10/05)

The U.S. Army said on Wednesday that further discipline was possible against a four-star general relieved of his command due to what his lawyer called "a consensual, adult relationship" outside of marriage.

Gen. Kevin Byrnes was fired as commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe in Virginia on Monday by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army said in a statement on Tuesday. [...]

A senior Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case said an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general's office substantiated that Byrnes engaged in an extramarital affair.

"The Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically prohibits adultery. Period," said the senior Army official.

The official added that Army commanders are expected to set and enforce standards. "The allegation of a marital infidelity was substantiated," the official said. "It would be imprudent for the Army to turn a blind eye to that because he is expected to uphold the UCMJ as a commander."

As head of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, Byrnes was in charge of Army training programs, creating war-fighting guidelines and recruiting new soldiers. He oversaw 50,000 people in 33 schools and centers at 16 Army installations.

It's not much to ask of an officer and a gentleman that he observe his marriage vows.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2005 6:22 PM

Teaching your underlings to waterboard sheep herders from Afghanistan turned over catch-as-catch-can to U.S. forces for cash on the barrelhead, on the other hand, qualifies a general for the Medal of Freedom.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 10, 2005 11:22 PM

By George, I think he's got it.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 11, 2005 12:03 AM

A man who is not loyal to his wife is not loyal to anything -- and, as a military leader, a serious security risk.

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 11, 2005 7:00 AM

If they enforced this rule when I was in the 3d MAW our combat readiness would have been cut in half overnight.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 11, 2005 9:10 AM

It's almost certainly impossible for civilians to understand the rules the military operates under (or is supposed to...), and definitely impossible for the media. If your child shoplifts from the PX/BX, it can practically end your hopes for high promotion...

One has to wonder if the severity of the response indicates he had an affair with a fellow member of the military. If so, he absolutely deserves to be punished as much as possible, much more so than if he had an affair with a civilian.

Posted by: b at August 11, 2005 1:07 PM


If they'd enforced it guys would have stopped.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 1:15 PM

You underestimate the power of the poontang, oj. But it is good to make an example of the occasional 4-star, there's too many of those stomping around anyway.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 11, 2005 1:23 PM

No, they'd just be more careful about how/when they did it. Contrary to Randall, I don't see how you can rule out their loyalty or effectiveness as soldiers because of a few moral mistakes. The best soldiers are agressive risk takers, which are personality traits you will also find among many men who stray from their vows. It would be nice to live in a perfect world, but since it is imperfect we should be evaluating our soldiers primarily by what we are asking them to do, which is fight.

That said, you have to look at the circumstances of what he did. If it was with a staff member, then it would definitely merit his being relieved. Fraternization is very detrimental to discipline and morale. If he carried on his affair in a public, indiscreet way, that also would damage morale as well as the reputation of the Army. The higher up you go, the less tolerance there is for personal screw-ups.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 11, 2005 1:58 PM

To add to Robert D's comment, my observations in the 4th MAW, where I spent my reserve time is similar. Aviators. There was an old AFCMR (Air Force Court of Military Review )opinion which more or less took judicial notice that flyers have a tradition of humping the help, and that the Air Force views "fraternization" more liberally that the other services.

In upholding the constitutionality of the adultery provisions of the UCMJ, the Court of Military Appeals relied on the military's interest in maintaining domestic order and peace among its personnel.

I have seen these cases come to light because of the complaint of a spouse threatened or brought for leverage in a divorce negotiation.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 11, 2005 2:56 PM

Rick Perlstein:

Why would you assume that military interrogators would use aggressive interview techniques on obviously worthless sources ?

All of the shepherds caught up in the dragnet have been back in Afghanistan for some time now.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2005 4:24 PM


You underestimate the pressure to conformity in a closed society.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 5:16 PM

You overestimate how closed it is, and also how homogenous it is. Like Lou said, there are a lot of different subcultures (enlisted/commissioned, Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines, etc.) This was the supremely annoying thing about Tailhook. The Navy fills up the Las Vegas Hilton with tequila and hookers, gets liquored up and gropes on the hookers, one of whom turns out to be a Fellow Naval Aviator. I'm supposed to do penance for that even though I'm a two-striper dragging his knuckles down a flightline at the time. Feh.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 11, 2005 6:34 PM


Yes, you can make them conform to any culture you choose for them.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 10:45 PM

No, you can either make your peace with the culture they choose for themselves or give them a hard time about it. Luckily for you, the culture they choose for themselves is (mostly) the same one you'd choose for them. This allows you to fantasize that you're leading the parade, per usual.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 11, 2005 11:16 PM

They don't get to choose.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 11:21 PM

Of course they do. They're enlisted and commissioned, not indentured.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 11, 2005 11:23 PM

And trained.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 11:31 PM

OJ thinks he can do away with adultery through training. Good luck, adultery is as old as Original Sin and would be as hard to root out as cockroaches in a New York tenement. The services are a fighting culture, not a priestly culture. You must be harboring some fantasy of the Knights Templar.

American soldiers are first and foremost Americans. They value thier liberty fiercely even as they guard yours. Military life puts restrictions on that liberty that most civilians don't really understand, and what small pockets of individual liberty and privacy remain to them will be fiercely defended. OJ, they get to choose whether to enlist or not. Good commanders know that they can't just get the results they want by giving commands, they know how far they can push their men without impacting morale. They've almost always turned a blind eye to off-duty hell-raising as long as it stays within the culture and doesn't give the service a bad reputation to outsiders.

The general broke that rule, he did something that went public and brought disgrace upon the service.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 12, 2005 9:24 AM

In the past, that called for a pistol and a single bullet.

Now even killing twenty people doesn't rate jail time.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 12, 2005 12:35 PM