How the Army Can Send the Right Message on Jeffrey Sinclair

March 26, 2014

Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair was sentenced last week to a $20,000 fine for carrying on an adulterous affair with a subordinate.  Originally charged with more serious offenses including sexual assault, Sinclair’s defense team was able to plea to this reduced charge.  Whether Sinclair is guilty of those more serious crimes is a matter now for conjecture.  What is not up for debate is the stain his conduct has brought to the Army General Officer Corps.  This should be addressed and the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno, should do the addressing. 

Here is my recommendation:

General Odierno should hold a press conference. He should describe how utterly stupid, inexcusable, and unprofessional Brig Gen Sinclair’s admitted actions were, how they undermine Soldier’s faith in senior officers, and how they degrade trust in the chain of command.  He should reinforce that while you may not agree with the punishments levied by the judge on Brig Gen Sinclair, they are the product of a judicial system and as a Commander, he is bound to follow them.  That said, as the Chief of Staff of the Army, all Soldiers are subject to his orders, and that he is ordering the following:

I am recommending to the Secretary of the Army that he exercise his prerogative to make grade determinations without referral to the Army Grade Determination Review board, as he retains sole authority to make discretionary grade determinations in cases involving general officers.  My recommendation would include that he not be retired as a General Officer.  Furthermore, I have ordered Brig Gen Sinclair to turn-in his General Officer belt, General Officer Flag, and General Officer pistol, to be held until the Secretary of the Army makes his final grade determination.  I am directing that no unit will host or conduct a retirement ceremony for Brig Gen Sinclair — no bands, no flags, no Soldiers — nothing. He does not deserve it.  While I cannot, and should not control the decisions of judges, I can control certain aspects of comportment of the Army as it relates to General Officer misconduct.

I imagine this would send a strong message.

Bryan McGrath (@ConsWahoo) is the founding Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group. A retired Naval Officer, Bryan spent 21 years on active duty including a tour in command of USS BULKELEY (DDG 84).  His final duties ashore included serving as Team Lead and Primary Author of the US Navy’s 2007 Maritime Strategy “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.” McGrath is an Adjunct Fellow at the ‎Hudson Institute and Assistant Director of the Hudson Center for American Seapower.

Image: U.S. Army