Opinion: Defense Secretary Austin Plays Politics Right out of the Gate

Khalid Mohammed

Retired General Lloyd Austin was confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the U.S. Senate on January 22, 2021, at 11:00 AM. An hour later, he was sworn in as the Secretary of Defense for these United States. Many of my military associates are cheering his nomination and subsequent confirmation. All isn’t as they claim, however.

Austin required a Congressional waiver, as he had not yet been retired from the military for the Congressionally-mandated seven years. I have no issue with that. Congress mandated the seven-year timeout for military members and most certainly has the authority to waive it. My issue with the newly-minted Secretary of Defense is the same one I have with the current crop of military officers, not only in very senior positions, but also the mid-grades. As we know, the mid-grades are the raw material that feeds the selection process for Flag Officers.

As we also know, some of those mid-grade officers ”ain’t bein’ raised right,” as quipped by more than a couple Command Sergeants Major I’ve had the privilege of being associated with. I have written about one mid-grade in particular, LTC(R) Alexander Vindman, a low-level staffer on the National Security Council, who evidently thought that he, not the sitting president, set foreign military policy for these United States.

Read: Opinion: The Rot Is Deep (Part I)

Flag officers are just as guilty, putting their noses into politics and doing so most inappropriately.

Read: Opinion: Senior Defense Officials, Both Present And Past, Need To Stay The Hell Out Of This Election

Our military is sworn to obey the legal orders of the duly-constituted, civilian chain-of-command. That policy stems from the constitutional charge given to the president, who is specifically named, Commander in Chief of the armed forces. That’s a good thing. However, there is another piece of this that we rarely see (unless, of course, it’s to embarrass a Republican president) which is a public disagreement between a DOD official and a sitting president.

There is a proper method for a military member or civilian leader in the Defense Department, to disagree with the president. That rule is pretty simple. Two choices: Salute and execute the order, or resign. In his first days in the seat, SECDEF Austin has failed this test. What is so egregious is that he is actively supporting a presidential decision that he knows, or should know is flat-out wrong.

In one of his very first official acts, following the direction of an illegitimate president (IPOTUS), Austin published a memo directing the Department of Defense to comply with his (IPOTUS’) directive mandating ”to ensure individuals who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender.”

Read: Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Transgender Service in the Military

Once again, under the guise of political correctness, a senior military officer albeit retired, has chosen the easier (politically expedient) wrong, over the harder right. Let’s unpack some of this fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer resources.

This revised policy will also ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all Service members and will re-examine all cases of transgender Service members that may be in some form of adverse administrative proceedings.

This is one of the “no-brainers” in this whole foolish, political event. What the IPOTUS and his new lapdog are signing us taxpayers up for are increased, military medical costs, costs that will result in absolutely no benefit whatsoever to the fighting force.

Moreover, such medical procedures mean that the service member will require ongoing treatment for the rest of his or her life. That means that for a goodly portion of his/her career, he/she will be non-deployable. We always have a certain number of service members who are in a non-deployable status. Why are we making a decision that we know damned right well, will add to that number? What is the possible benefit? More from the SECDEF (emphasis mine)

The United States Armed Forces are in the business of defending our fellow citizens from our enemies, foreign and domestic. I believe we accomplish that mission more effectively when we represent all our fellow citizens.

Really? Says who? Please show me any study, any metric that says demographics that mirror society, inherent or made up, relate to Combat Effectiveness. More on that further down.

I also believe we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity. We would be rendering ourselves less fit to the task if we excluded from our ranks people who meet our standards and who have the skills and the devotion to serve in uniform.

Absolutely false to fact. These United States aren’t the State of Israel in 1948, surrounded by enemies on all sides and needing every bit of manpower available…needing any human being who can fog a mirror. We certainly don’t need anyone whose mental/emotional software is not aligning with his/her OEM hardware. Put bluntly, if you don’t believe you are the same sex (and it’s “sex,” not ”gender,” boys and girls) as your issued equipment says you are, then you are inherently unqualified to be in the business I spent 37 years in. You. Have. A. Disorder. The treatment for that disorder isn’t cutting parts off or sewing them on…especially at taxpayer expense. See a shrink…on your own dime.

This is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

This is the part that really bothers me. It begins with what the duties become at Austin’s level. There’s an old military adage, ”Colonels and below, study Tactics; Generals study Logistics.” At Secretary Austin’s level, the logistics become strategic, from emplacement of military bases to the proper mix of ground, air, and naval (and of course, Army Rangers, which we all know, are a force in and of themselves).

Manning the force is also a series of strategic logistical decisions. Every additional person brought on board has a number of effects, most of them involving logistical and monetary effects. These include some that are readily apparent: housing, pay, uniforms, and equipment. Some, not so visible: pensions, medical, post-service disability. These are what are known as the Cost Factors for any personnel decision.

The cost factors are, in most cases, easily determined. In the case of recruiting and retaining sexually- disordered folks, as has now been directed, we are definitely buying into increased medical costs. However, in the age of limited budgets, redirection of medical funds that would normally go to treat normal military members would instead be diverted to treat what folks in my generation called self-inflicted wounds, wounds actually inflicted via taxpayer funds.

Those are just a couple of the costs. We won’t get into others that are more ephemeral, such as diminished morale in units where these folks are assigned, but not around to carry their fair share of the load due to medical issues.

Now, let’s chat a bit about the benefits. Short version, aside from gaining some Democrat votes at the margins, much like the issues of homosexuals and females in close combat units, I have yet to identify any benefit that could result from this decision. Not a single one. I have had discussions with more than a few senior Flag Officers on all three of these subjects and not one has any real answers.

Here is where I start the discussion. The mission of the military forces of these United States is to kill people and break things in support of the lawful orders of the National Command Authority, as determined by Congressional mandate (war declaration). In my discussions with those senior officers regarding these policies, I ask two questions:

How will this policy or decision:

1. Increase Lethality, Cost Effectiveness, Survivability, Combat Effectiveness, Logistical Sustainability, Readiness, Deterrence or any other metric by which we assess our military ability to kill people and break things on behalf of the National Command Authority and if so;

2. At what cost?

To date, not one senior officer or DOD civilian, or even a NEOCON, NRO pundit has been able to answer any of those questions. The closest was a 4-Star General, who told me that it was important to keep women in Special Operations Units so we could retain (my words here) the ability to grope Arab females. Which is something we managed to triumph without in the desert combat theaters in both World War I & II. In short, very high cost and no benefit.

The same obtains for this latest sop to the extreme left. Secretary Austin should know better. This should have been a deal-breaker for him when offered the job. This is going to come with a very high cost and absolutely no benefit to our Armed Forces. Even worse, he hasn’t even been in the seat for a week. What’s next?