Last February Navy Times reported that Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) David Turley had been fired as Chief of the Boat on the ballistic-missile submarine Nebraska. (See Navy Times, Feb. 9, 2012, "Top Enlisted Fired Amid Relationship Allegation") The Nebraska was one of the nuclear submarines opened to female officers in 2010, despite health risks unique to women of child-bearing age, which remain unresolved.
In February, Navy Times included in the story the evasive comments of the SubLant 9 spokesman, who denied that the firing of Chief Turley had anything to do with the gender-integration of the submarine. At the time I wrote to reporter, Sam Fellman, asking him whether the chief's firing had anything to do with the recent addition of female officers on the submarine Nebraska. This July 16 article answers my questions and more:
Good for Navy Times.
Lesson learned: the military will not disclose information about sensitive matters of sexual misconduct unless they are pressed by determined media, with the help of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
I learned this myself when a case of a soldier raping a young man and infecting him with HIV came to light at Fort Bragg a few years ago. I called Fort Bragg and asked why the full range of offenses had not been reported, including the issue of homosexual conduct. I was told that discharges of persons who engage in homosexual conduct frequently are not reported as such.
If an offender is court-martialed and punished for a more serious offense involving homosexual conduct − in that case disobeying an order related to the soldier's HIV status − discharge records are likely to show only the more serious offense. I mentioned this point while testifying before House Armed Services Committee on July 24, 2008. In my testimony, summarized here, I advised the members that information about the consequences of repealing the 1993 law regarding gays in the military probably would not be disclosed or visible in Pentagon reports. Committee member Vic Snyder, who is now a former member of Congress, verbally assaulted me for saying that, in true "shoot the messenger" fashion.
But I digress. In the Nebraska case, the misconduct was heterosexual and involved several corollary offenses, including misuse of administrative funds. The Navy spokesman claimed back in February that Turley was "not relieved for cause," and was only fired for "administrative reasons." The deliberately misleading equivocation was wrong, especially since the spokesman denied there was any connection between the introduction of women on the sub and the ensuing sexual misconduct.
The next president of the United States, and the 113th Congress, will have to be especially vigilant and deliberate in seeking information about sexual misconduct in the military, both hetero- and homosexual. This will require direct orders demanding honest information about social/military issues, together with serious congressional oversight that reveals the truth, not dissembling and equivocations.
− Elaine Donnelly