Two relatively recent incidents have demonstrated that our push, as a society, to “embrace diversity” has had a rather detrimental effect on our military. And both are cases of WHAT an individual officer is trumps WHO they are.
In the Navy, Captain Holly A. Graf was seen as a star. Her father is an admiral, her older sister a very successful captain herself, Captain Graf was in the middle of her second major surface combatant command (the cruiser Cowpens; she had previously commanded the destroyer Winston S. Churchill) when she was abruptly relieved of her command for “cruelty and maltreatment” of her crew. And once the news broke about this officer — who had been on the fast track for flag rank — former crew members of hers flooded the internets with tales of her tyrannies and abuses.
It’s clear from reading them — even if you dismiss the majority of them as BS — that this woman was a problem for a long time, in a lot of places, to a lot of people, but she was consistently covered for, passed on, pushed forward, and in general allowed to be a far worse officer than should have been tolerated.
Family connections may have played a role. As noted, her father is a well-respected admiral, and her older sister is also highly regarded.
But there’s the suspicion — a downright belief — in many quarters that Captain Graf was given considerably leeway because enough of “the brass” wanted a woman to succeed, and didn’t want to be the one to end a woman’s career.
And so for years numerous sailors were abused, mistreated, assaulted, and careers damaged or ended because no one wanted to step in and rein in Captain Graf — who must have
connected seen her tyrannical ways and steady promotions as connected.
And in the army, there’s the more extreme case of Major Nidal Hassan, the Army psychologist who had an attack of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome and murdered 13 fellow soldiers. Hassan’s tendencies towards Islamic extremism was well documented, but — again — it appears that no one wanted to be the one who blew the whistle on a Muslim officer and instead, passed him along and promoted him — until he finally snapped. Unlike Captain Graf, we can point to a precise number of troops who suffered from that decision — the thirteen he killed, and the 32 he wounded.
Again, in both cases, the officers in question had given many, many signs that they were unfit for the responsibilities with which they were entrusted. Many superior officers had had misgivings about their performance, but stayed their hand out of concern over “bigger” issues. And in both cases, an aspect of their identity (a woman and a Muslim respectively) trumped very real concerns about their performance — concerns that ended up costing our military dearly.
Neither case says anything about the classes to which these two disgraces to their uniforms belonged. Captain Graf was a bad officer; other women (notably her older sister, among others) are performing their jobs superbly. There are also many Muslims serving honorably in all the branches of the armed services.
But those statuses must take a back seat to the considering the individual in question. They must stand — or fail — on their own strengths and weaknesses.
That was not done in the cases of either Captain Graf or Major Hassan. And a lot of innocent people paid the price.