Memo to the Media: Being Black Is Not The Same As Declaring You're Gay
Then-CNO Adm. Mike Mullen Responsible for Enterprise Antics

Congress Should Question Adm. Mullen's Promised "Consistent" Conduct Standards

ElaineDOnnellyby Elaine Donnelly

January 4, 2011 - The controversy surrounding release of sexually-charged videos reportedly produced by Capt. Owen Honors, the former Executive Officer who has been temporarily relieved as Commander of the carrier Enterprise, should not stop with questions about the behavior and judgment of Capt. Honors alone.

The Chief of Naval Operations at the time was Adm. Mike Mullen, now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 Then-CNO Adm. Mullen did not have command authority over the Enterprise, but his rank as CNO invested in him the responsibility to maintain high standards of morale and discipline in the entire Navy.  Adm. Mullen failed to discharge this duty with regard to the Enterprise, and members of Congress should hold him accountable.  Either Adm. Mullen knew what was happening on the Enterprise, or he did not know about the breakdown in discipline occurring on his watch.  Which scenario is worse?

Congress also should call into question the testimony that Adm. Mullen presented on December 2, 2010, advocating repeal of the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military.  Mullen assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that if Congress repealed the 1993 law, mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the armed forces would maintain consistent standards of personal conduct.  Any risks of repealing the law, said Mullen, would be “greatly mitigated by the thorough implementation plan…and effective inspirational leadership. These are things I know for a fact.”  What sort of “inspirational leadership” was then-CNO Mullen showing in 2006-2007?

Now we know that Adm. Mullen’s rose-colored crystal ball is unreliable.  The carefully produced, sophomoric videos, giving equal-opportunity offense to gays and straights alike, are a disturbing indication that “consistent” standards of conduct may not be as high as some members of Congress assumed.  The shipboard follies, which occurred on CNO Mullen’s watch, undermine the credibility of his formal assertions regarding discipline in general.  Adm. Mullen and like-minded allies in the White House, Pentagon and Congress are inviting trouble that cannot be “mitigated” by wishful thinking alone.

The premeditated nature of the sexually-charged videos, which exceeded minor infractions and horseplay by junior officers, made them unacceptable.  The fact that some women willingly participated in the videos, and that they spoofed both homosexual and heterosexual conduct, did not make the videos any more acceptable than offenses that ruined the careers of countless naval officers since the infamous Tailhook scandal involving aviators in 1991.

 In this case, primary responsibility should fall not on the subordinate “actors,” but on Capt. Honors and superiors officers who participated in or tolerated inappropriate behavior over many months.  Capt. Honors’ own statement on the video scorning his own subordinates’ complaints about the videos is not a trivial matter—it is an indication of problems yet to come.

Contrary to assurances that standards of conduct will remain high, and that “leadership” and sensitivity training can “mitigate” the consequences of human failings, this embarrassing episode demonstrates how discipline can be incrementally redefined downward, lowering standards for all.

Good leadership encourages discipline, not indiscipline, with consistently high standards that are expected and enforced both on-ship and off.  This important element of military culture, which the 1993 Congress inscribed in Findings #8 through #11 of the law, has now been targeted for elimination by passage of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal bill.  That legislation was recklessly rushed through the lame-duck 111th Congress without substantive hearings on the Defense Department’s report on the subject.

 Ironically, repeal of the 1993 law will not go into effect until 60 days after the naïve Adm. Mullen, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates jointly “certify” that the new LGBT Law will not have negative effects on military effectiveness.

The incoming 112th Congress should reconsider that legislation, which surrenders to Adm. Mullen and the other two certifying officials unrestrained power to impose the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender agenda on subordinate personnel whose voices in opposition have been ignored.  They should also conduct extensive hearings to compile and review information about sexual misconduct in the military of all varieties, whether consensual or non-consensual, to include data about the gender of the persons involved.

It is not enough to say that in the New Gender Order, joking videos about various kinds of sexual activity, both gay and straight, will be considered acceptable as long as the carrier keeps sailing and launching planes.  If that is the new standard, then Capt. Honors’ videos will be only the beginning of a decline in discipline that does irreversible harm to the culture of our military.