Active Duty Generals And Politics Don't Mix


This is a lesson that LTG Benjamin Mixon, commander of US Army Pacific (USARPAC), should not have had to be told. It's one thing to be a conservative-minded knuckle-dragger like USMC General James Conway and say, my personal opinion is that I don't like gays. It's entirely another thing to use one's command influence to encourage others to support your position and to print that statement in the Stars and Stripes.

The recent commentaries on the adverse effects of repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy were insightful.

It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. I suspect many servicemembers, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen’s desire to serve and acceptable conduct.

Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.

Amazingly, SecDef Bob Gates really didn't find this advice as helpful.

Gates and [ADM Mike] Mullen denounced Mixon’s letter during a Pentagon press conference.

“I think that for an active duty officer to comment on an issue like this is inappropriate,” said Gates.

"I feel the same way and actually it is being addressed inside the chain of command in the Army,” Mullen added. “I’ve spoken specifically to [U.S. Army chief of staff] Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., about this. And Gen. Mixon specifically is – the issue is being addressed with him."

Mixon, reached via email Thursday, would not comment on the matter. "You will have to address all your questions to Army (public affairs)," he said.

This was a bone-headed statement from a general officer who should have found a better way to leave active duty service. The conservative bloggers have already started blaming Gates and Mullen as the villains in this drama, and no doubt more claims of the DOD favoring "political correctness" over the morale of our troops will surface. But the short of it is this - no one in the Pentagon cares if you support or don't support gays being allowed to serve in the military (for the record, I do). You don't, however, contradict the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a public forum on a politically radioactive topic such as this. Although Mixon had a strong professional career and was (one can guess) a smart officer, for some reason he made a really bad decision here. You can expect LTG Mixon's notice of resignation any time soon, I would expect.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.