Friday, December 13, 2013


Load shedding is a term used in engineering to describe stripping electrical loads off switchboards in order to keep the generator from collapsing under too great an electrical load. The process can done either manually or as the last gasp defensive act of the dying generator. As I read the language of the 2014 Defense Authorization, as posted at Senator Levin's press release, I see that the Senate and House have opted to change the Uniform Code of Military Justice in a naked attempt to curry favor with idiots.

I don't mind that so much anymore because what they've done is set up the automatic and terminal shedding of certain painful loads off the shoulders of the Commanding Officer and onto the woefully unprepared and overwhelmed Judge Advocate General's minions in the JAG Corps. The revised language used only in cases where a sexual complaint has been laid with the command, reads, "Amends Article 32, UCMJ, to change Article 32 proceedings from an investigation to a preliminary hearing normally conducted by a judge advocate to determine whether there is probable cause to prosecute a case." It looks like such a small thing but it isn't.

In olden days, an Article 32 investigation was simply called a JAGMAN investigation and it was a tool used by the Commanding Officer to determine if the facts, once they were known, justified taking a matter to either non-judicial/administrative or judicial proceedings. All such investigations were carried out by officers within the command. The vast majority of such investigations  used to lead to simple Captain's Mast where the accused was brought before the Commanding Officer and the matter was handled administratively. Not any more. Now every single complaint of any kind of sexual misbehavior is going to automatically involve a trial lawyer for the government looking for the facts of the matter from the outset. There is no reason to believe that a JAG lawyer will not proceed to recommend a Court Martial no matter what the facts, since to do otherwise is nothing but career suicide.

That will be interesting on a huge number of levels. Right there it starts out as a judicial and legal proceeding and the accused knowing that it involves lawyers on the government's side, must lawyer up too. When the lawyers get involved the process slows down to a crawl. Swift maintenance of good order and discipline vanishes out the porthole. Such minor disruptions could be handled for the tiny minority of cases that required a legal investigation but now every single complaint involving a she said/he said is going to enjoy the full scrutiny of lawyers before it moves along to its inevitable conclusion, Court Martial. These cases drag on for literally YEARS.

In Courts Martial both the government and the accused are permitted to call witnesses. They can call just about anybody they want to. Cases floating through military law just in the last couple of months have involved requests for the President and for the Commandant of the Marines to testify. All of these expenses must be borne by the Convening Authority. Somehow, I don't think they have the funds for that. 

We used to have a rule about playing around within a command. It was simple and boiled down to one word, don't. I made sure everyone knew the rule and what I expected of them but dreaded the inevitable consequence of sailors fooling around since it was going to get into a she said/he said where there is almost never any real evidence. I didn't like having to rule on such matters. Now, the UCMJ says I don't. I don't even get any say in the matter. Morale, good order and discipline may suffer and watching as the military's deployable commands are tied into legal convolutions in order to settle thousands of these cases every year is always good fun, from the sidelines. 

In the realm of power generation and distribution we had protective load shedding but there was another hazard with unbalanced electrical loads and these would sometimes trip the reverse power relay. With the new UCMJ, we have just scrapped that little bit. The navy no longer uses the law as a tool for good order and discipline but rather becomes the law's tool.


Old NFO said...

Excellent point, and you can bet once the lawyers are involved, there won't be any more Captains Masts... Everything will go to a Courts Martial. Having sat on a couple of Art 32s over the years, I feel for the poor officers/enlisted that get drug into one.

Buck said...

Yet another reason I'm glad I'm retired and done. This is lunacy.

virgil xenophon said...

Nothing like "progress." Or as the Obamaites would say: FOREWARD!

HMS Defiant said...

The Congress eliminated most Captain's Masts when they made them optional for personnel serving ashore. One's behavior must be truly egregious and the Navy wants you gone if they have to take you to a court martial. Accept no substitutes for death. I just reread the Marine JAG's update on this and they are right up front. From when the bill is signed by the President on into the future, any sexual connotations to a matter before the CO must be investigated by a JAG as a preliminary to Trial. That means that a full blown hearing is conducted after the facts have been gathered, impartially, by a JAG appointed to find wrong doing. The Trial Counsel is going to the wall with this one and will need to bring on about 9800 more JAGS across the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.
I had a hard enough time conducting JAGMANS getting all the witness statements and facts when we were in DRYDOCK in Seattle since so many people were off at schools and medical records needed to be pried out of the civilian hospital. My last hurrah was kicking off what led to a court martial and imprisonment of a LCDR which dragged on for years and the thrashing around by the guilty person resulted in 4 separate IG investigations and counter-charges against everybody involved except me. She forgot about me until the day her trial appeal was ending.
I don't envy anybody in the coming social war within the services.

HMS Defiant said...

Me too and I totally agree.

HMS Defiant said...

The sad thing is that I can't see any way now to go back. We repealed Prohibition in the USA but never repealed nothing, nohow, noway in the Navy. I honestly don't see how this can work. Captain Honors was dragged before Admiral Harvey in chains for making funny little videos about conserving water onboard, and safety, etc and 3 full years later, after a successful command tour, was tossed out of the Navy in disgrace. That's everyman's future in the Navy now. Kafka would be so proud.