by Jeremy Griffith
American Millennium Online
This week Todd Starnes of Fox News exclusively reported on incidents where Army leaders briefed Soldiers ready to deploy on so-called “hate groups”, listing Christian Protestant and Evangelical groups in the mix. Now after that report came out, no less than the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, has ordered that all such training be halted.
Several questions are now apparent: who is responsible for this training and will there be hearings to ascertain why these training briefings were given apparently without approval of top Army leaders? Or, were they approved at higher levels and then eliminated after the backlash that followed?
According to Starnes’s reports, available here, Army leaders on several occasions have warned Soldiers not to contribute to or participate in certain political or religious groups under penalty of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or UCMJ. At Fort Hood Texas, for example, deploying Soldiers were told that they could be punished for participating in Tea Party organizations or evangelical Christian Groups or donating funds to them.
At Camp Shelby, Mississippi, a National Guard post responsible for training and deploying thousands of Troops overseas for contingency operations, leaders briefed Soldiers warning them about so-called hate groups, listing such organizations like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, groups that support traditional marriage.
Reports of such briefings became available when a Freedom of Information Act request or FOIA was submitted by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. Chaplain Alliance Executive Director Ron Crews is happy with the Army Secretary for stopping the briefings.
“Men and women of faith – who have served the Army faithfully for centuries – have been likened to those who regularly threaten the peace and security of the United States,” said Crews.“It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of improper characterization.
“Men and women of faith – who have served the Army faithfully for centuries – have been likened to those who regularly threaten the peace and security of the United States. It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of improper characterization.” -Ron Crews
So who was it who was responsible for these controversial briefings? The Army Secretary says they were not approved by him.
In a memorandum to Army leaders obtained by Starnes, Secretary McHugh writes, ““On several occasions over the past few months, media accounts have highlighted instances of Army instructors supplementing programs of instruction and including information or material that is inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy.” According to an Army spokesman, those briefings have been halted by order of the Secretary who has “directed that Army leaders cease all briefings, command presentations or training on the subject of extremist organizations or activities until that program of instruction and training has been created and disseminated.”
What that means exactly is not exactly clear to this writer. The overarching question now is, did low level Army leaders include the materials without getting approval by higher headquarters before they presented materials? That is unlikely since the Soldiers were warned of penalties under UCMJ. Did the Secretary or his staff approve of this training, backing off only after an apparent embarrassing backlash, or were they left out the loop by overzealous and mislead leaders lower down in the chain of command?
This week congress is involved in hearings to discuss the embarrassing implementation of the Obamacare launch. We at the American Millennium believe they should also should hold hearings on this issue, holding Army leaders accountable for this embarrassing and controversial actions. Kudos to the members of congress who wrote to the Secretary requesting the halt of these briefings.