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Posted on Jun 12, 2019 Print this Article

Issue 57: June 2019

APentagon Leadership Defying President Trump and Contributing to Sexual Misconduct

As reported in this article, some uniformed and civilian leaders in the Department of the Navy have failed to faithfully implement the Trump/Mattis policy regarding persons identifying as transgender:

For example:

1. Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the Chief of Naval Personnel who has been confirmed as the next Vice-CNO, recently announced a permissive dress code that attempts to circumvent the Trump/Mattis policy regarding persons who identify as transgender.

Admiral Burke’s policy statement indicates that transgender personnel may “live socially” in their “preferred gender” and “express themselves off-duty in their preferred gender” when not in uniform.  This problematic policy disregards DTM 19-004, which announced implementation of the Trump/Mattis policy on April 12.  The directive clearly states that transgender persons are expected “to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with their biological sex.”

Adm. Burke’s permissive dress code allows special, unequal treatment for individuals seeking to live a double life “expressing” their sexuality after hours.  Burke’s misinterpretation of the Trump/Mattis transgender policy also weakens the historic principle that personal conduct rules apply on-and off-base, 24/7, on-and off-duty, at all times a person is in the service.

Contrary to expectations from transgender activist groups, military service does not allow individuals to dress and express themselves as they choose.  Extension of Burke’s rogue policy to all services and all personnel would have the effect of increasing inappropriate behavior that weakens morale, discipline, and mission readiness.

As we are seeing already, incremental changes in long-standing personal conduct rules will continue trends toward problems of sexual misconduct, both non-consensual and consensual.

2. Sexual expression on ships and military bases, which can take many forms, invites voluntary sexual misconduct that brings discredit to the service.

In August 2018, Navy Times photographed a Yeoman 3rd Class performing a drag queen strip-dance wearing a wig, tights, and red high heels in front of other off-duty sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.  (See photos in this article: Sailor by Day, Performer by Night — Meet the Navy’s Drag Queen, ‘Harpy Daniels’.)

If a male sailor can perform a sexually charged drag strip-dance on the USS Reagan, and if personal conduct rules no longer apply after-hours, male and female heterosexual personnel surely will claim comparable opportunities to express their own sexuality while off-duty, regardless of the impact on others.

There are no indications that anyone questioned the judgement of the former CO of the USS ReaganCapt. Michael Donnelly, who allowed the male sailor to dance in drag on his ship.  Additional news reports have demonstrated the point that all forms of sexual misconduct, both voluntary and involuntary, are harmful to morale, discipline, and cohesion.  (See Section B below)

3. The leaders of National Guard units in six states (CA, NM, NV, WA, OR and NJ) are refusing to implement the Trump/Mattis policy regarding persons who identify as transgender.

Public statements of the state governors involved betray confusion and misinformation about the Trump/Mattis policy, which is based on the medical condition gender dysphoria, not the status of transgenders as a class.  Tolerating the governors’ defiance could cause operational problems when National Guard units are brought under federal control, and similar defiance in additional states.

4. The U.S. Marine Corps has issued a directive encouraging (essentially ordering) participation in LGBT Equality Month events to be held in June.

MARADMIN 274/19, signed by Marine Brig. Gen. W.H. Swan, authorizes events in June that are not consistent with the Trump/Mattis policy.  Since taking office, President Trump has declined to issue an official proclamation recognizing LGBT Pride Month, and the Marines have not announced such activities before.

Anthony Kurta, an Obama Administration holdover, has been quoted using the title assigned to him during the previous administration as well as “Performing the Duties of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness,” even though his unconfirmed nomination for that position was withdrawn earlier this year.  Kurta has initiated or participated in past LGBT Pride Month celebrations in June at the Pentagon, even without presidential authorization.

In the same way that our military does not allow labor unions or political demonstrations in the Pentagon or military bases, activist events promoting LGBT causes and demands should not be sponsored by the President, the Department of Defense, or the military services. 

B.  Permissive Policies Appear to be Worsening Problems of Sexual Misconduct, Both Involuntary and Voluntary.

1. The Navy has more than a sexual harassment/rape problem; it has a military discipline and sexual misconduct problem that has been evident for some time.

This news report about gross indiscipline on the USS Florida, the second submarine to integrate female sailors, demonstrates how sexual misconduct, both voluntary and involuntary, undermines morale and mission readiness:

A FOIA request unearthed an investigative report about a sexually explicit list of activities between male and female sailors serving on the Florida’s Gold Crew. and several other news outlets reported that in 2018, sexual acts were recorded on a “list” (mis-headlined a “rape list”), which rated with 1- 4 stars sexual performances of female sailors aboard the submarine.  According to the investigative report quoted in the article, “The list describes aggressive sexual activity, but does not reference non-consensual acts.”

Even without non-consensual assaults or worse, the situation caused fear and distrust aboard the Florida.  Military discipline had broken down, leaving distrust and shattered vertical cohesion between male and female sailors and commanders.

It is unfortunate that leaders of the U.S. Navy seem to have escaped professional responsibility for problems occurring on their watch.  Outgoing Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, for example, apparently failed to recognize problems that have been papered over with glowing statements like those from the former CO of the submarine Florida’s Gold Crew.

Capt. Gregory Kercher boasted in an interview that gender integration on his submarine, the Florida, was proceeding seamlessly.  Kercher was rightly removed for a poor command climate on the submarine last August, but accountability for the degradation in personal conduct rules should have gone higher in the chain of command.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran was nominated and confirmed to replace Adm. John Richardson as CNO.  And the Chief of Naval Personnel – the same Vice Adm. Robert Burke who relaxed personal conduct rules for transgender personnel expressing their “preferred gender” after hours – also was named and confirmed to replace Adm. Moran as the Vice CNO.

Year after year, Pentagon officials have tried “remedies” recommended by the same ideologues whose social agendas have contributed to or worsened problems that are weakening morale and discipline in our military.  The Trump Administration should connect the dots in matters of sexual misconduct and restore sound policies that encourage discipline rather than indiscipline.

2.  The FY 2018 Report of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), has once again produced data documenting disturbing trends.  (Disregard government site security warnings beyond “Details”) For example:

  • In FY 2018, the total number of sexual assaults reported in actual cases, including non-service members, climbed from 6,769 to 7,623 – a 13% increase in one year and a 212% increase since the 3,604 cases reported in FY 2012.
  • Looking at reports from service members only, actual cases climbed from 5277 in FY 2017 to 6053 in FY 2018 – a 15% increase in one year and a 214% increase since the 2,828 cases reported in FY 2012.  (Source, SAPRO Report for FY 2018, p. 15, and Appendix B: Statistical Data on Sexual Assault, p. 8, Figure 1, and p. 9, Table 1 and Figure 2.)
  • The percentage of men who were victims in “Completed Investigations of Unrestricted Reports,” most of them male-on-male, ticked up from 17% in FY 2017 to 18%.  This is an 80% increase since the 10% of similar cases noted in the FY 2010 SAPRO report. (FY 2018 Appendix B, Table 5, p. 30; and FY 2010, released March 2011, p. 77, Exhibit 13, and p. 78, Exhibit 16.)
  • Every two years, the SAPRO publishes “virtual” estimates of “Sexual Assault Prevalence” that are based on an online “Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active-Duty Personnel (WGRA).  This year the WGRA Survey, which is often mis-reported as a compilation of actual case numbers, showed an increase in unofficial reports from 14,900 to 20,500.

3.  Despite all professional efforts and grants to reduce demoralizing problems of sexual misconduct, problem trend lines have gotten worse, not better, and there’s more.

Most news reports about the annual SAPRO reports on sexual assault usually omit disturbing information about a related problem — unsubstantiated accusations that create injustice for persons accused of misconduct.

Obscure tables and charts in various SAPRO reports since FY 2009 have shown that the average percent of these cases has been 19%, with the percentage steeply rising from 23% to 28% since FY 2017.  CMR has prepared an updated analysis of the numbers of cases involving unsubstantiated accusations:

The Center for Military Readiness believes that in matters of sexual misconduct, officials must protect due process for both the accuser and the accused.  Individuals are responsible for their own actions, but policy makers also should be held accountable for flawed policies that encourage sexual misconduct, both voluntary and involuntary.

C.  Congress Encourages Military Mutiny on Trump/Mattis Transgender Policy

On March 28, 2019, Democrats and a few Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a non-binding “Military Mutiny Resolution,” HR 124, which was strongly promoted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  HR 124 included a string of inaccurate and misleading “Whereas” statements, ending with a “Resolved” clause that “strongly urges the Department of Defense to not reinstate President Trump’s ban on transgender members of the Armed Forces . . .”

This article describes the debate and identified who voted for Speaker Pelosi’s Military Mutiny bill:

Webster’s dictionary defines “mutiny” as “passive resistance to lawful authority; to rebel against military authority.”  Anyone who voted for the resolution should be held accountable for their affront to the President and the troops he leads.

D.  Time running out to express your views on “Draft Our Daughters” legislation to the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service.

The three-year, $45 million National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service has been conducting hearings and preparing to issue a report that some hope will be rubber-stamped by Congress with legislation to “Draft Our Daughters” and to impose mandatory, government-directed national service obligations on all young people.

The commission has been seeking comments and statements from individuals and organizations who wish to be heard on these issues.  Individuals and organizations should submit statements to the National Commission at this address: 2530 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Box #63, Arlington, Virginia 22202.  You can also file comments easily on the commission’s website:

This collection of Staff Memoranda, though not final, gives an idea of how radical this commission’s agenda is.  A report is due early next year, but the window of opportunity to be heard is closing fast.  CMR President Elaine Donnelly has met with the commission and filed this Statement for the Record last November, but more voices need to be heard before the commission’s work is done.

E. Articles of Interest to CMR:

* * * * * *

More information is available on the website of the Center for Military Readiness,  CMR is an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social policies.

Posted on Jun 12, 2019 Print this Article