Admiral, You Fire Him for Dereliction of Duty

Postcard, interior of a West Virginia coal mine (photo: mod as hell via Flickr)

As I was doing my morning news surfing, I came across this article from the Austin American Statesman from Sunday. It seems that retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, a member of the Massey Energy Board of Directors, sees no reason for firing Don Blankenship from his position as the Chairman and CEO of Massey. From the article:

Inman, 79, who teaches national security issues at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he has served as dean, has rejected calls for the dismissal of the CEO.

“Of course not at this point,” Inman said Friday. He has huddled, sometimes by phone, with board members daily since the mine explosion, he said. “We’re in the middle of a crisis. Everything depends on the cause of the explosion.”

Uh, Admiral? Maybe you spent too much time hanging around the folks in the so-called “Intelligence Community” instead of actual line officers in the Navy to remember this but there’s a thing called Dereliction of Duty (Article 92 of the UCMJ). In this case

(c) Derelict. A person is derelict in the performance of duties when that person willfully or negligently fails to perform that person’s duties or when that person performs them in a culpably inefficient manner. “Willfully” means intentionally. I t refers to the doing of an act knowingly and purposely, specifically intending the natural and probable consequences of the act. “Negligently” means an act or omission of a person who is under a duty to use due care which exhibits a lack of that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. “Culpable inefficiency” is inefficiency for which there is no reasonable or just excuse.

Now, as we all know, I am not a lawyer but it sure seems to me that having a mine disaster such as the Upper Big Branch explosion occur on his watch sure would be a cause for concern. Then you add in the reports of Blankenship proclaiming that safety regulators are “as silly as global warming” and the reports of Massey contesting two-thirds of the fines imposed for safety violations sure seems to be evidence of a pattern of willful neglect and dereliction. And I would wager that your former military comrades would agree. After all, a quick check of der Google finds:

Navy Captain Is Relieved of Duty
US Navy boots Captain after fire on carrier
Running a ship aground
Abu Ghraib

And that was just a cursory look. I can recall situations from my own active duty days where commanders at various levels were removed for this reason. Admittedly, a couple of times, the commander in question was given a face saving transfer and allowed to retire but the removal for cause was just as prevalent as the face saving gesture.

Admiral, the bottomline is, you would not have tolerated these actions from any of your subordinates so why do you tolerate it now? Using the excuse that it is a crisis is just not acceptable when the person who helped precipitate the crisis is the person you are protecting. In fact, if an admiral commanding the fleet allowed a commander to stay at his/her post after a similar situation, the admiral himself (or herself) would be open to the same charges of dereliction of duty.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I worked at Papa Booz, the partner I worked for was a retired navy captain and former aide to Admiral Inman.

And because I can:

Admiral, You Fire Him For Dereliction of Duty

As I was doing my morning news surfing, I came across this article from the Austin American Statesman from Sunday. It seems that retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, a member of the Massey Energy Board of Directors, sees no reason for firing Don Blankenship from his position as the Chairman and CEO of Massey. From the article:

Inman, 79, who teaches national security issues at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he has served as dean, has rejected calls for the dismissal of the CEO.

"Of course not at this point," Inman said Friday. He has huddled, sometimes by phone, with board members daily since the mine explosion, he said. "We’re in the middle of a crisis. Everything depends on the cause of the explosion."

Uh, Admiral? Maybe you spent too much time hanging around the folks in the so-called "Intelligence Community" instead of actual line officers in the Navy to remember this but there’s a thing called Dereliction of Duty (Article 92 of the UCMJ). In this case

(c) Derelict. A person is derelict in the performance of duties when that person willfully or negligently fails to perform that person’s duties or when that person performs them in a culpably inefficient manner. “Willfully” means intentionally. I t refers to the doing of an act knowingly and purposely, specifically intending the natural and probable consequences of the act. “Negligently” means an act or omission of a person who is under a duty to use due care which exhibits a lack of that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. “Culpable inefficiency” is inefficiency for which there is no reasonable or just excuse.

Now, as we all know, I am not a lawyer but it sure seems to me that having a mine disaster such as the Upper Big Branch explosion occur on his watch sure would be a cause for concern. Then you add in the reports of Blankenship proclaiming that safety regulators are "as silly as global warming" and the reports of Massey contesting two-thirds of the fines imposed for safety violations sure seems to be evidence of a pattern of willful neglect and dereliction. And I would wager that your former military comrades would agree. After all, a quick check of der Google finds:

Navy Captain Is Relieved of Duty
US Navy boots Captain after fire on carrier
Running a ship aground
Abu Ghraib

And that was just a cursory look. I can recall situations from my own active duty days where commanders at various levels were removed for this reason. Admittedly, a couple of times, the commander in question was given a face saving transfer and allowed to retire but the removal for cause was just as prevalent as the face saving gesture.

Admiral, the bottomline is, you would not have tolerated these actions from any of your subordinates so why do you tolerate it now? Using the excuse that it is a crisis is just not acceptable when the person who helped precipitate the crisis is the person you are protecting. In fact, if an admiral commanding the fleet allowed a commander to stay at his/her post after a similar situation, the admiral himself (or herself) would be open to the same charges of dereliction of duty.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I worked at Papa Booz, the partner I worked for was a retired navy captain and former aide to Admiral Inman.

And because I can: