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Dangerous precedents in service

Dear Editor,

As a 30-year veteran who served under five Presidents — Democrat and Republican alike as both a Regular Army Officer and a Guardsman, I watch with great alarm the actions being taken by the FBI and the Guard leadership to profile and remove Guardsmen from the ranks for “inappropriate comments or texts” as reported by the Military Times and a similar AP story in the Warren Times Observer. All being done under the guise of these Soldiers posing “an internal threat” capable of conducting an insider attack against the Nation’s Inaugural events.

These extrajudicial actions not only undermine the professionalism of the Services and their ability to assess and train Military personnel but also undermines the loyal bond with our soldiers. Further, these actions degrade the authority and responsibility of Command Teams to maintain good order and discipline and field mission ready units in accordance with the robust judicial system already in place, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

For those that will want to make my comments a political issue, don’t because they are not. This is not a partisan political issue but one that affects every American and the trust that we place in our nation’s military. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines come from all walks of life, are of all colors and creeds with an unlimited number of beliefs about all sorts of things, just like our country. We are men and women who have volunteered to serve our Nation and who swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies Foreign and Domestic. We are Soldiers who come together despite differences, put their personal beliefs aside to accomplish incredibly difficult missions every day, in peace and war.

The very foundation of the United States is our Constitution and contained within the Bill of Rights guarantees our “We the People” freedom of speech, religion, press, right to assemble and due process among many other things. While it may feel that our Nation is so divided that we will not be able to overcome our current situation I can say with certainty we’ve overcome much worse, together. It’s never an appropriate time to relinquish our foundational values contained in the Constitution, in fact in times of difficulty it’s more important than ever to stay true to our values.

Finally, to look at this situation with maybe a little “lighter” viewpoint, if we start removing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines for “inappropriate comments” most assuredly of the very colorful nature, we may not have any left.

Col. David Wortman,

ARNG, Retired

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