Why Is the Washington Examiner Defending the Commie West Point Grad?

rampone6

Today the internet has been abuzz with the saga of the Che-wannabe who graduated from West Point and is now a commissioned officer but who spends his spare time slagging on his country, his chain of command and his fellow soldiers. This, of course, is Second Lieutenant Spenser, with an ‘s,’ Rapone. See RedState posts here and here.

It was inevitable that the left was going to leap to the defense of a massively ‘woke’ combat veteran who just happened to be a dyed in the wool communist so I was more than a little shocked when the Washington Examiner, usually a reliably center-right outlet, ran a post defending Rampone and encouraging the Army to go easy on him.

https://twitter.com/TPCarney/status/913114488085319681

I have a lot of objections to this article but the two main ones are that a) this is not a boys will be boys type of thing that an institution dedicated to fighting the nation’s enemies can tolerate and b) to be charitable, the author doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.

The U.S. needs military officers who are skilled and intellectually curious and predisposed to challenging groupthink. Correspondingly, the Army shouldn’t overreact in punishing 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone for his apparent endorsement of communism.

First off, as attested by the various badges and medals he is wearing in his Twitter photos, Rapone would appear to have excelled in his training. He wears the combat infantryman badge, so has obviously served in combat, and is also airborne qualified. In addition, that Rapone was able to branch as an infantry officer, the most highly prized officer-specialty, suggests that he graduated near the top of his West Point class (branch preference is given to top ranked cadets).

The sum of Rapone’s record would suggest that he has the potential to lead both in brutal conflicts and in complex political environments.

Of course, the Army cannot tolerate political statements from personnel in uniform, especially from a young officer expected to set an example to the soldiers under his command. But the question is, how should Rapone be punished?

I hope Rapone’s commanding officer applies an Article 15 non-judicial punishment. This approach, short of a court martial, would not seriously affect Rapone’s Army career but would discipline him. Such a punishment might involve an oral reprimand or extra duties for 14 days. Hopefully, Rapone would get the message and learn not to repeat his mistake.

This is not some harmless act.

The oath you take at commissioning reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

Right here we have a problem. If a person is publicly stating that the government of the United States is a racist and corrupt oligarchy (I’m paraphrasing but only barely) they can hardly be relied upon to support, defend, bear true faith and allegiance, and so on, to that government. Likewise, one has to question their mental reservations about serving such a system. A military officer is charged with the morale, welfare, and discipline of his unit. If a person is outspoken to the extent of Rapone about his contempt for the country and its institutions, including the one that gave him a very valuable college degree and a job, how will this affect the morale of his unit. How will it affect discipline. We see the effect the #TakeAKnee bullsh** is having on pro football teams. Can you imagine a rifle platoon divided into pro- and anti-communist sections.

Rapone also expressed contempt for “lifers.” This is Vietnam-era military slang — that I didn’t realize had resurfaced because it had disappeared in the 80s and 90s — that is a derogatory term for career noncommissioned officers in particular, though it can be applied to officers as well. How will his NCOs react to knowing how he really feels about them? In the same missive that expressed contempt for “lifers,” he also talked smack about field grade officers, major/lieutenant colonel/colonel. They would be his battalion executive officer and operations officer, his battalion commander, and his brigade commander. What might their reaction towards him be if they decide not to order his relief from active duty or resignation for the good of the service?

In short, this is not a harmless error like skinny dipping in the officer’s club pool or doing the “Dance of the Flaming A**hole” in a six-man conga line down the top of the bar in the O-club:

(This is not me, but it gives you a flavor of what the dance looks like.)

What Rampone represents is an actual threat to good order and discipline even if he’s not an outright security risk. (I’m not a security investigator so I’m not going to advance my opinion there).

The author doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

There is probably no profession which has as many experts who have never a) read about it, b) studied it, or c) served in it as the military. Most folks know not to argue surgical techniques or courtroom procedure with a doctor or lawyer. They don’t tell an engineer how to design a bridge. But they stand ready to pontificate on military subjects because, really, it can’t be all that hard, right? All you have to do is put on a uniform–and if you were actually smart, you wouldn’t be in the military anyway.

The first point I made above — this is not a harmless mistake. This is a very dangerous young man whose beliefs, beliefs he is apparently incapable of keeping to himself, will cause conflict and dissension in his unit and possibly result in men getting killed.

I hope Rapone’s commanding officer applies an Article 15 non-judicial punishment. This approach, short of a court martial, would not seriously affect Rapone’s Army career but would discipline him. Such a punishment might involve an oral reprimand or extra duties for 14 days. Hopefully, Rapone would get the message and learn not to repeat his mistake.

This is nonsense.

First, an Article 15–that is, non-judicial punishment– is a process whereby, for minor offenses, the miscreant agrees to have their case heard by their commander. With commissioned officers it is rare that Article 15s are administered by anyone other than the first general officer in the chain of command, who sits as judge and jury, in return for not being brought before a court-martial. It is a death blow to any officer. An administrative letter of reprimand filed in your permanent file is a death blow. A tiny ding on an efficiency report can be a death blow. An Article 15 would ensure that Rapone would not be promoted to first lieutenant and would be separated upon his non-selection. So really the Army’s choice, if Rampone’s career is so valuable that we may have to kill people to keep it viable, is do nothing more than a verbal reprimand administered outside the military justice system.

Second, a commissioned officer cannot be assigned “extra duties for 14 days.” Extra duty, like reduction in rank, can only be imposed upon enlisted men.

The correction the author posts makes it worse rather than better:

Update from Author: Since writing this article I have been made aware of other posts in which Rapone appears to engage in direct personal attacks on the President, Vice-President ,and Secretary of Defense. Such actions are incompatible with the principle of unity of command and far more serious than the photo tweets as outlined below. I stand by my comments in relation to the photo tweets, but accept that more serious UCMJ action may be necessary in relation to the personal attacks.

The “principle of unity of command” is a basic principle of military operations commonly called Principles of War. These are the ones the US military recognizes.

Unity of Command: To ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander for every objective.

What Rampone did was violate Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ:

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

These are the elements that must be proven to sustain the charge:

b. Elements.
(1) That the accused was a commissioned officer of the United States armed forces;
(2) That the accused used certain words against an official or legislature named in the article;
(3) That by an act of the accused these words came to the knowledge of a person other than the accused; and
(4) That the words used were contemptuous, either in themselves or by virtue of the circumstances under which they were used.

… Giving broad circulation to a written publication containing contemptuous words of the kind made punishable by this article, or the utterance of contemptuous words of this kind in the presence of military subordinates, aggravates the offense. The truth or falsity of the statements is immaterial.

Call me crazy but referring to your commander as a warmonger and the Secretary of Defense as a “vile, evil f***,” and characterizing the vice president as “a f**king medieval, cold-blooded killer,” (and not in an admiring way), and doing it so millions of people can see your opinion seems to be a slam dunk here.

Maximum punishment is 1 year in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and dismissal from the service. In other words, it is a felony.

I only hope the author was trying to maximize clicks.