News / USA

Scandals Raise Questions Across US Military

US Armed Forces Besieged by Corruption Scandalsi
X
February 11, 2014 9:58 PM
A series of corruption scandals at the Pentagon recently has prompted Congressional hearings and an announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to take corrective actions. Details from VOA’s Jeffrey Young.
— The Pentagon is embroiled in a series of corruption scandals that span the globe and have rocked the Navy, Air Force, and Army National Guard.  Both sides of Congress are holding hearings into the matters.  But the number of scandals is raising questions about a lack of accountability across the U.S. military that many say is unprecedented. 
 
The Navy is dealing with a bribery scandal involving a Singapore-based company that investigators say bought the illicit help of a group of naval officers with cash, lavish trips, and prostitutes. In another investigation, Air Force and Navy officers allegedly cheated on proficiency exams that dealt with nuclear missile launch codes and nuclear propulsion systems.  The Army’s National Guard is also dealing with an alleged scam involving cash improperly taken for getting people to enlist.
 
“You start to wonder if we need to get a little more discipline here, if nothing else than to send a clear message that this kind of stuff needs to be rooted out – and whatever oversight laxity might be happening is not tolerable or sustainable,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington.
 
The situation has prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to announce last Friday that he will appoint a senior general to review the Pentagon’s ethics standards and implement changes meant to ensure proper behavior. 

“Competence and character…are woven together. They must be.” Hagel said.  ”And, an uncompromising culture of accountability must exist at every level of command.”
 
The U.S. House of Representatives in Congress announced that a key committee on government oversight, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa will hold hearings into the alleged scandal involving Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a contractor with the U.S. Navy. The head of that company, Malaysian national Leonard Glenn Francis, has been arrested on bribery related charges. So have several Navy officers.
 
One of them is Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz.  Born in Cambodia, he came to the United States as a child refugee, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He was given command of a guided missile destroyer, the USS Mustin, which he sailed in December 2010 to Sihanoukville, Cambodia in a triumphant return to his native land.  Later, he became a logistics officer for the Navy’s 7th Fleet, which covers the Pacific.
 
Misiewicz and another logistics officer, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, are accused of providing internal information to Leonard Francis and GDMA on ship movements and port calls.  Prosecutors say they steered ships to ports where GDMA had facilities so that the company could grossly overcharge the Navy for fuel and other services. In return, Francis rewarded them with money, trips, and the services of prostitutes.
 
Also snared by the Navy’s probe into GDMA was one of its own investigators – Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agent John Beliveau II.  He has already entered a guilty plea of providing Francis with internal NCIS documents – ostensibly to help Francis stay one step ahead of investigators.  Commanders Misiewicz and Sanchez have entered “not guilty” pleas and are awaiting further court action.
 
The Navy is also embroiled in an alleged scandal involving its famed “SEAL Team Six.”
 
Acting Navy Undersecretary Robert Martinage was asked to resign in mid-January after investigators found that the brother of a senior Navy intelligence official had manufactured weapons silencers for the SEALS at a cost of $8,000 – for which the military was billed $1.6 million.
 
The Congress too has been holding hearings into an alleged scheme in which people improperly collected money – possibly up to $66 million – for getting young men and women to sign up for the National Guard.  Investigators say that recruiters and others not eligible to receive the bonuses used proxies and other schemes to collect the cash and share it with them. 
 
“It is disappointing that people who wore the uniform saw a way to get one over on the government, and they did,” said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who is leading hearings into the matter.
 
Brookings analyst O’Hanlon said the Congressional hearings can serve as a prod to get the Pentagon back on the right track.
 
“You know, they [the hearings] can scare people into better behavior – they can put some pressure on the Pentagon to do more than just discipline the ten or twenty bad apples that were specifically involved, “ he said. “But, if there is a more general problem of organizational rot or decline of standards, they can hold people accountable, and force the broader military services or the Department of Defense to relieve people at a higher level of command, potentially, if that seems appropriate.” 
 
O’Hanlon said there are broader concerns about the proficiency exam cheating scandals that have implicated at least 92  Air Force nuclear ICBM launch control officers and more than 30 Navy personnel connected to nuclear propulsion systems.
 
Those entrusted with America’s nuclear arsenal – and its nuclear systems – are held to extremely high standards with periodic exams to prove that they know precisely what they are trained to do.  And the pressures to pass those tests allegedly prompted those accused to share questions and answers.
 
“You can’t be lax with nuclear weapons,” said O’Hanlon. These things [such as cheating on nuclear proficiency tests] erode the nation’s safety and security, and over time, can damage that very fabric of the armed forces.” He added “You’ve got to stop them now, before it gets worse.”

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Nigerian Islamic School Tries to Combat Boko Haram

Kaduna school headmaster teaches his students that what militants are doing is are doing is 'a total misunderstanding of the Islamic religion' More

University Trains Students to Advocate for Deaf People Worldwide

Program prepares graduates to advocate internationally for access to education, jobs for people with disabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid