An awful lot of America’s top military brass have been taking hits lately. Is it just a coincidence that several four-star generals and a two-star admiral get the axe or resign in disgrace within the space of less than a month? Do any of these have anything to do with the administration's Benghazigate scandal? Or are they, as some military observers suspect, only the first installment of the Obama agenda to decimate the military services?
General David Petraeus, of course, has been at the center of a media storm since his resignation as CIA director on November 9, amid revelations of an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer.
Here is a timeline of recent casualties in the highest echelons of the U.S. military services:
• General Carter Ham — On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that Gen. Ham was being replaced as the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Panetta gave no explanation for Gen. Ham’s removal.
• Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette — On October 28, the commander of the John C. Stennis carrier strike group in the Middle East was abruptly removed from command and returned to the United States.
• General David Petraeus — On November 9, General Petraeus, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
• General John Allen — On November 13, news stories reported that Gen. Allen, who was Gen. Petraeus’s successor in Afghanistan and a top nominee for NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, was embroiled in a potential scandal involving emails with Jill Kelley, a socialite at McDill Air Force base. Allen has insisted that there was no improper relationship between himself and Mrs. Kelley, but his career path to the top NATO post has been scotched, and the ongoing investigation could potentially lead to his resignation.
• General William “Kip” Ward — On November 13, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demoted Gen. Ward, the former head of U.S. AFRICOM, stripping him of his fourth star, following a lengthy DOD Inspector General probe that found Ward guilty of lavish spending and extravagant travel.
The removal of General Ham and the resignation of General Petraeus have particularly stirred widespread concern that both cases may be driven by White House efforts to smother exposure of the administration’s handling of the deadly September 11, 2012 “consulate” debacle in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed (see here and here).
The timing of the resignations, removals, revelations and demotions was bound to spark suspicions of a Benghazi connection, particularly in the case of Gen. Petraeus, who was scheduled to testify this week in congressional inquiries into the deadly Libyan attacks. His resignation put his appearance before the committees in doubt. However, members of Congress have let it be known they expect him to testify.
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