By: Susan Knowles
This article is written as a follow up to an article I recently wrote called “The Thinning of the Military Herd?” A reader of that article brought it to my attention that there had also been a number of other firings in the military under Obama.
I began conducting researching on these firings and came across an article in a military publication, Stars and Stripes, which also confirmed the dismissals. The publication reported that in 2012, the U.S. Navy dismissed approximately twenty-five Commanders and Captains for a variety of reasons.
Whenever, there is a massive firing, whether in the military or otherwise, the first inclination is to assume that there is something not quite right or irregular about these terminations. Suspicions are raised and in the case of the military, firings have been rumored to be about Obama’s attempt to weaken the military or retain only those military members who would be willing to fire upon American citizens should an order be given to do so.
What I discovered, however, about the grounds for these firings appears at first glance to have merit. If these allegations are true as listed below then they may have been nothing more than routine and necessary terminations.
Cmdr. Derick Armstrong, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, was relieved “as result of an unprofessional command climate that was contrary to good order and discipline.”
Cmdr. Martin Arriola, commanding officer of the USS Porter, fired Aug. 30 due to loss of confidence in his ability to command after the vessel collided with a tanker.
Capt. Antonio Cardoso, commanding officer of Training Support Center San Diego, fired Sept. 21 for violating the Navy’s policy on hazing.
Capt. James CoBell, commanding officer of Oceana Naval Air Station’s Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic, was fired Sept. 10 pending an investigation into his leadership.
Cmdr. Joseph E. Darlak was replaced as the skipper of the USS Vandegrift on Nov. 2, after a rowdy and booze-fueled port visit to Vladivostok, Russia, in the month previous.
Cmdr. Franklin Fernandez, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24, fired Aug. 21 due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command for allegedly driving under the influence.
Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette was replaced as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis pending the outcome of an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate judgment, the Navy announced on Oct. 27.
Cmdr. Ray Hartman, commanding officer of the amphibious dock-landing ship Fort McHenry, dismissed Nov. 19 for allegations of misconduct.
Cmdr. Jon Haydel, commanding officer of the amphibious transport dock USS San Diego, fired March 12 amid an investigation into “personal misconduct.” Cmdr. Diego Hernandez, commanding offer of the ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming, relieved Feb. 4 after he was convicted in an admiral’s mast of dereliction of duty for mishandling classified materials.
Cmdr. Lee Hoey, commanding officer of the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, San Diego, fired May 1 due to poor command climate.
Cmdr. Dennis Klein, commander of the submarine USS Columbia, fired May 1 for inadequate performance in administration and operations.
Capt. Marcia “Kim” Lyons, commander of Naval Health Clinic New England, relieved April 6 after problems were identified in an annual command climate survey.
Capt. Chuck Litchfield was relieved from command of the USS Essex after it collided with the replenishment oiler Yukon off the Southern California coast on May 16.
Capt. Robert Marin, commander of the USS Cowpens, relieved Feb. 10 on suspicion of “inappropriate personal behavior.”
Capt. Sean McDonell, commander of Seabee reserve unit Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 in Jacksonville, Fla., relieved of duty Nov. 26 for mismanagement and unspecified “major program deficiencies.”
Cmdr. Corrine Parker, head of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 1, fired April 16 after an investigation revealed the possible falsification of administrative records.
Capt. Lisa Raimondo, commander of Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, Md., relieved of command on June 29 due to a “a significant lack of leadership and integrity that eroded good order and discipline in the command.”
Capt. Jeffrey Riedel, program manager of the Littoral Combat Ship program, was “temporarily reassigned” pending a command investigation into allegations of inappropriate personal behavior.
Cmdr. Sara Santoski, commanding officer of the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, fired Sept. 1 due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command following a crash that resulted in the death of two sailors.
Cmdr. Sheryl Tannahill, commanding officer of Navy Operational Support Center Nashville, relieved of command Sept. 16 amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship.
Cmdr. Michael Ward, commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh, fired Aug. 10 for personal misconduct.
Capt. Michael Wiegand, commanding officer of Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, relieved Nov. 8 amid allegations that funds were misused under his watch.
Capt. Ted Williams, commanding officer of the Mount Whitney in Italy, was fired Nov. 19 for allegations of misconduct.
Cmdr. Jeffrey Wissel, commander of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1, fired Feb. 27 amid allegations of “personal misconduct.”
I think the bigger question may be whether these alleged acts of misconduct, if true, are indicative of a military who suffers from failed leadership originating with the Commander-in-Chief on down.
It’s also possible that there were just some “bad apples” that finally got caught. One example, are the allegations against Commander Jon Haydel. What the publication’s article doesn’t say is that he allegedly had pornography on his government computer. He was also alleged to have ordered a duty driver to twice take him home and to have a Navy doctor come to his home to examine his ailing wife. All of the allegations, if true, are violations which could easily warrant dismissal.
Navy Times caption: “Cmdr. Jon Haydel, left, was fired as commanding officer of of the amphibious transport
dock San Diego in March. Investigators cited Haydel’s lack of engagement with the crew and were critical
of the performance of Lt. Cmdr. Wes House, right, the ship’s executive officer, in Haydel’s absence. (Navy)”
Furthermore, not mentioned in the Stars and Stripes article, was a Lt. Cmdr. Wes House who was also fired in 2012. House took over when Jon Haydel was relieved and immediately ran into trouble. It appears that he ordered and redirected his crew to do tasks to the highest possible standards and when they weren’t done to his expectations, he would threaten and shout at them. He would also order crewmembers back to the base at all hours just to do routine tasks that could have waited until normal work hours. Further, he yelled at his officers in front of the enlisted personnel and created such low morale, that a number of the crewmembers filed complaints against him. Did this alleged behavior rise to the level of requiring termination? Some would argue that it did.
Finally, while the article alludes to Joseph Darlak’s drinking, it fails to make mention of allegations that he and his crew went to strip clubs in Russia and became so rowdy that top officers had to be restricted to the ship and told to turn down the music to the disturbance that it caused.
A third possibility is that the allegations against these military officers were false or that some of them were set up. Antonio Cardoso, for instance, believes that a female U.S. Marine accused him of hazing because she didn’t like an order he gave her. James CoBell was accused of being abusive to subordinates and using them to conduct personal favors. Although, he was cleared by an Investigating Officer, he was dismissed anyway. Were these officers wronged? Perhaps they were.
It’s difficult to draw a concrete conclusion about the large number of dismissals. However, it is also too early to conclude that these officers were dismissed by Obama under suspicious circumstances for his own personal and/or political agenda.
Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney. Her latest book, a political fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember,” available on Amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com, where this article is also located.