Putting the military on the defensive over sex

Robert Maginnis, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, is a senior fellow for defense studies at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Times on April 2, 2014.

As our top military officer bemoans sexual assault in the ranks, other Pentagon "leaders" attack religious servicemen and collectively slash defense spending, our adversaries grow more dangerous. China's navy is exploding in size and capability, and Russia threatens to recapture Eastern Europe.

Recently, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy that sexual assault threatens to erode the trust that is the foundation of the military.

What the general fails to understand is that a crisis of values in the military is only magnified when service members are consistently told to hide their moral and religious convictions. He and some of his peers who continue to allow the stifling of religious and moral expression are part of the problem.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel just hired a two-star ethics adviser. Meanwhile, the Pentagon's civilian leadership and other top generals chase after President Obama's radical social agenda while scratching their collective heads and asking why our military has bad generals like Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair of Fort Bragg sexual-assault fame. They don't blame Mr. Obama's bad policies for these problems, but find it handy to take their knives out against religious troops - the very people our ethically challenged military desperately needs.

When he recently testified before Congress, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said that the "perception" of religious persecution has been the "single biggest frustration I've had in this job." However, religious persecution is more than a matter of "perception." It's a real problem, as evidenced by what has occurred at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where a cadet's Bible verse on a whiteboard was deemed a major offense.

Similarly Gideons International was ordered to stop passing out Bibles at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Dozens and dozens of similar anti-faith sanctions, as outlined in the Family Research Council's "Clear and Present Danger" report, are sending a stark message to servicemen.

Top Pentagon leaders must shift their attention away from pushing Mr. Obama's social agenda and attacking people of faith who provide a needed ethical foundation. Rather, Gen. Dempsey and Mr. Hagel should focus on our real adversaries, such as the Chinese and Russians.

China's navy is growing rapidly, not only in its number of ships, but in its naval sophistication. Modernization of its fleets is going hand-in-hand with new types of vessels, including the stated goal of building indigenous aircraft carriers. China's navy has also become very confrontational. China continues to increase defense spending annually by double digits as America radically cuts its own defense spending.

Russia is front and center on the bad-actor stage. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates profiled Russian President Vladimir Putin's long-festering grudge with the West in The Wall Street Journal: "He deeply resents the West for winning the Cold War. He blames the United States in particular for the collapse of his beloved Soviet Union, an event he has called the 'worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.'

"The aggressive, arrogant actions of Vladimir Putin require from Western leaders strategic thinking, bold leadership and steely resolve - now," Mr. Gates wrote. What we're getting from Mr. Obama are meaningless sanctions against individuals, which Mr. Putin quickly dismissed.

America's top military officials are focused on social re-engineering, attacking people of faith and radically cutting our defenses - just as our primary adversaries are stepping up their capabilities and confrontation. Something is very wrong with this picture.