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Commanders are dropping like flies this year

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By: Hiedi Brown

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Air Force Gen. John Hyten is commander of U.S. Strategic Command and President Trump’s nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last week the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 20-7 to send his nomination to the floor—but not before it was clouded by allegations of sexual misconduct from a female subordinate.

Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser’s accusations are graphic and nauseating. But they are discredited by evidence. I have reviewed the written record of the case, including a redacted report from the Army Inspector General Office, and spoken with people involved. I served at Stratcom headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with both Gen. Hyten and Col. Spletstoser, including at the time of one of the claimed assaults. While she confided in me over various issues, she never brought up an assault by Gen. Hyten.

In late 2017, Col. Spletstoser was accused of what the Army calls “toxic leadership”—intimidating, abusive and threatening behavior toward subordinates. In January 2018, Gen. Hyten approved an Army 15-6 investigation, which corroborated the charges. Col. Spletstoser was relieved of her position on Feb. 26, 2018.

 

Later that day, Omaha police were summoned to her home address. Their report states that “after a disturbance at the office,” Col. Spletstoser threatened that Gen. Hyten “[had] 24 hours to rectify the situation, or [she] was going to kill [herself]” (bracketed text in original). Officers took her to a clinic.

Beginning in June 2018, Col. Spletstoser launched a dizzying avalanche of charges against her superiors, including Gen. Hyten, his chief of staff, and officers who investigated her. Gen. Hyten told the Armed Services Committee that she made 34 different accusations against the Strategic Command hierarchy: 24 against the chief of staff, six against Gen. Hyten, two against his deputy commander, and two against the officer who investigated her. Charges ranged from conduct unbecoming an officer to misuse of a government cellphone. None of these accusations involved sexual misconduct. None were substantiated by the Army’s Inspector General Office, and the Pentagon’s Inspector General Office validated that conclusion.

Later, the Army Inspector General Office reported—with the accuser’s name redacted—that it “noted several inconsistencies between [Col. Spletstoser’s] recollection of events and other evidence and testimony. . . . The preponderance of the credible evidence and witness testimony contradicted [Col. Spletstoser’s] information.” By March 2019 Gen. Hyten, his staff and the Army investigator had been cleared of all charges.

Only in April, days after Gen. Hyten’s nomination to the Joint Chiefs, did Col. Spletstoser accuse him of sexual assault. Yet it was not the first time she had leveled such charges against a superior officer.

In 2009, after a commander gave her a modest rating on an Officer Evaluation Report, Col. Spletstoser appealed it and accused the commander of sexually harassing her throughout her tour of duty in Iraq. The Army Board for the Correction of Military Records wrote that “applicant’s scorched earth attack on the OER, much of which is patently specious, undermines her overall credibility. Tellingly, applicant has proffered not a single statement from a third party supporting her version of events.”

Similarly, after the allegations against Gen. Hyten, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations interviewed 53 witnesses in three countries and found insufficient evidence to justify Col. Spletstoser’s nine specific claims of sexual misconduct. What they did find was a host of verifiable contradictions of her account.

 

She claimed that damning evidence of Gen. Hyten’s misconduct would be proved by email correspondence. Investigators reviewed 195,000 unique emails preserved by Stratcom servers, and turned up nothing.

 

She claimed Gen. Hyten called her frequently after her dismissal. A review of phone records Col. Spletstoser provided found no calls between the two after her firing.

She said she did not want to travel with Gen. Hyten due to his unwanted sexual advances. But multiple witnesses claimed she became livid after Gen. Hyten told her she was prohibited from traveling with his detail until her toxic-leadership investigation was resolved. Her screams from his office were loud enough to alarm Gen. Hyten’s personal security detail, who rushed to the office.

As a critical link in America’s nuclear chain of command, Gen. Hyten is one of the most closely guarded officers in the country. He must be responsive within minutes to the president. His every movement is supervised, and when he stays in hotels, guards closely observe the door to his room. Col. Spletstoser claimed that one instance of abuse happened after Gen. Hyten asked her to remain in his room following a staff meeting. But his security chief told investigators he had no recollection of such a request and would have recalled “if she stayed in the room for any large amount of time.”

Sen. Martha McSally—who has said a superior officer raped her when she served in the Air Force—defended Gen. Hyten after she spent weeks reviewing his case. She was repaid with scorn and mockery on social media and in the press. Ms. McSally has my admiration for courageously standing up for the truth.

Col. Spletstoser maintains that her claims are true and that some have been corroborated. She has now demanded an opportunity to testify before the Senate. But Congress has wasted enough time on this petty theater. There must be consequences for dragging an innocent man and his family through hell. A thorough investigation found no evidence to corroborate her charges, multiple discrepancies and outright contradictions in her accusations, and a pattern of leveling specious charges throughout her career. For the good of the country, for the good of actual sexual assault survivors, and for the good of due process and other values we hold dear, the Senate should confirm Gen. Hyten as vice chairman.

For the same reasons, the Army should investigate Col. Spletstoser for perjury under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

Ms. Brown, a retired U.S. Army major general, served as director of global operations for U.S. Strategic Command.

 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Sua Sponte said:

Stray thought:

Was she in the "co-pilot" car seat? ... wingman dont let wingman drive drunk and all that jazz. That was probably asked by Zoo leadership already...if yes, had to be at least a verbal

Wonder how each MAJCOM would treat that these days, opinions anyone?

Edited by Swizzle

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On 8/8/2019 at 11:05 AM, ImNotARobot said:

"The commandant has reviewed the information provided by local law enforcement officials"  Yep, because they always tell the truth. What are the chances, if he's found not guilty, that he'll be reinstated?

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Just now, arg said:

"The commandant has reviewed the information provided by local law enforcement officials"  Yep, because they always tell the truth. What are the chances, if he's found not guilty, that he'll be reinstated?

Zero. But that was probably rhetorical. 

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26 minutes ago, arg said:

"The commandant has reviewed the information provided by local law enforcement officials"  Yep, because they always tell the truth. What are the chances, if he's found not guilty, that he'll be reinstated?

The new norm these days...guilty until proven innocent.  Total bullshit.

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4 minutes ago, Bergman said:

The new norm these days...guilty until proven innocent.  Total bullshit.

"Innocent until accused" (quoted from here) is standard.

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The new norm these days...guilty until proven innocent.  Total bullshit.

These days? That’s been the standard for the last 20 years I’ve been in uniform. CCs protecting their future promotions by showing their boss they can “take the hard line and instill discipline” through totally annihilation of the target regardless of the details.

It’s cancer.

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On 8/10/2019 at 5:42 AM, ImNotARobot said:


These days? That’s been the standard for the last 20 years I’ve been in uniform. CCs protecting their future promotions by showing their boss they can “take the hard line and instill discipline” through totally annihilation of the target regardless of the details.

It’s cancer.

I can honestly say "it wasn't like that" in the places I was in during the mid-late 90s (both as a non-flyer and a flyer).  I had CCs who actually attempted to give rudder corrections first, and mete out punishment when they had to to guys who colored outside the lines but were otherwise good folks that wouldn't leave a mark.

Personally, I saw this change between 2001-2005 to the "a good leader is one who kills flies with sledgehammers" that we see currently.

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On 8/9/2019 at 9:57 PM, Bergman said:

The new norm these days...guilty until proven innocent.  Total bullshit.

Really?  For DUI?

What's the thought on likelihood of innocence?  Police officers pull over a driver, come to the conclusion he's impaired, test to confirm and to have enough data to achieve a conviction, and they're wrong?  Because going to all that work and creating paperwork for yourself is fun?

I've never heard of a DUI case that later turned out the accused was innocent.  Am I missing a bunch?  

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2 minutes ago, FltDoc said:

Really?  For DUI?

What's the thought on likelihood of innocence?  Police officers pull over a driver, come to the conclusion he's impaired, test to confirm and to have enough data to achieve a conviction, and they're wrong?  Because going to all that work and creating paperwork for yourself is fun?

I've never heard of a DUI case that later turned out the accused was innocent.  Am I missing a bunch?  

Lots of things can invalidate a breathalyzer. I just recently learned in Australia, if you burp, they have to wait 30 minutes before administering it. The more you know. 

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7 minutes ago, FltDoc said:

Really?  For DUI?

What's the thought on likelihood of innocence?  Police officers pull over a driver, come to the conclusion he's impaired, test to confirm and to have enough data to achieve a conviction, and they're wrong?  Because going to all that work and creating paperwork for yourself is fun?

I've never heard of a DUI case that later turned out the accused was innocent.  Am I missing a bunch?  

There is an entire lawyer industry built on beating DUI charges

 

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16 minutes ago, FltDoc said:


I've never heard of a DUI case that later turned out the accused was innocent.  Am I missing a bunch?  

Yes, you are missing a bunch.

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I read back in 2012ish people were using the ketosis defense, that people were saying they were in ketosis. Ketosis makes your BAC reading abnormally high. You would be surprised at the ways the body works....

 

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You’d also be surprised at how badly the cops/local da screw up blood alcohol testing. 

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1 minute ago, HossHarris said:

You’d also be surprised at how badly the cops/local da screw up blood alcohol testing. 

Security Forces is worse. 

My brother got a DUI while changing a flat tire on his car on McGuire a few years ago. In Oklahoma you can get a DUI while sleeping in the back of your car, while in your driveway, if the keys are in the cab with you (doesn't have to be in the ignition). 

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Lots of things can invalidate a breathalyzer. I just recently learned in Australia, if you burp, they have to wait 30 minutes before administering it. The more you know. 

So for everyone saying there are ways to beat this, and how easy it is I’m curious. Are you saying a member should then be reinstated because they got off on a technicality? Maybe I’m misreading the trending comments, but I don’t want any idiot who will drive drunk in the AF. I don’t care if they beat it on a technicality. I would have zero mercy on a dude that hit my kid while DUI. A DUI that doesn’t result in an accident is just somebody being more lucky than they deserve. There is the whole “Integrity First” thing that we should all subscribe to. Again, If I’ve misread the situation, press.


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Posted (edited)

"Integrity First" goes both ways: the integrity of the officer executing the test and his testimony, the integrity of the test itself, the integrity of the evidence against the accused, the integrity of the state bringing the charges, the integrity of the jury and their decision, the integrity of the prosecutor, etc.

Edited by dotonfire

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