Based on the previous experience with government waste, fraud, and abuse, how does the current military leadership hierarchy promote an environment whereby soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines know how and when to identify and report these kinds of abuse? Secondarily, how does leadership promote the mentality that these abuses can be reported without the fear of reprisal? The decision to report an observed waste, fraud, or abuse by military service members is one of the most critical and career-endangering steps that can be undertaken. This is because of the flaws that have been reported in the institutions such as the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office which is mandated with handling such cases.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office did not meet time requirements in the handling of approximately half of the cases of the reported waste, fraud, and misuse by military members (Farrell, 2015). Additionally, the DoD IG did not have evidence of how it handled at least twenty-two percent of the reprisal instances that were brought against the Federal Government by service members (Farrell, 2015). This is an indication that the DoD still does not take seriously the prosecution of waste, fraud, and abuse offenders within the Department of Defense. The DoD's Office of Inspector General freshly advanced case management system, which was created to enhance the monitoring of whistleblower cases. It is distinct from the service Inspector General’s systems limiting the DoD IG's capacity to offer oversight of each military retaliation investigation.
The case of LT Christine Russell, a Naval Reserve Officer in Kuwait in 2009, highlights the problems that still exist pertaining to the persecution of military whistleblowers. LT Russell testified before the Department of Defense Inspector General that she was compelled to make a payment for alcohol at a command sponsored function as there were no non-alcoholic alternatives available to her regarding this same function (Taylor, 2015). After filing her report on the incident, the Navy Inspector General failed to timely investigate her complaint; just a few days later, she demobilized from the command. She was taken to Kuwait, and the Navy failed to give any response immediately after her request for explanations. LT Russell contends that she was “treated like a criminal and escorted out of the country by military police like I had committed a war crime”. It took the Navy an entire year to launch an inquiry into this event; finally, it was found that there were, indeed, problems with how command parties were orchestrated overseas. The Navy Inspector General concluded that LT Russell had not been opposed. The Pentagon Inspector General’s office had later given the confirmation that in 2012, Russell had been retaliated against and gave recommendations to the Navy to address her issue. However, Russell’s promotion was not approved, and she thought she had no future in the army. In 2012, the Navy was instructed by DoD IG to remedy the wrongs that had been done to her due to her whistleblowing, but nothing had been done. Till nowadays, LT Russell has received no promotion. She believes that her career in the Navy is over because of her efforts to bring the abuses to light (Taylor, 2015).
In its report, the Government Accountability Office stated that it had discovered cases similar to that of LT Christine Russell. It analyzed approximately 124 military whistleblowers reprisal cases conducted by the office of the Pentagon Inspector General. GAO also reported that the inquiry into grievances from military whistleblowers that had been struck back against for reporting wrongdoing took should take over five hundred days. However, the Inspector General’s office fails to send the necessary notifications.
The military whistleblowers commit an act either of moral or ethical consequence. According to the Utilitarian ethical theory, the action that will cause the greatest amount of happiness and the least amount of harm is the correct course of action. Therefore, it is a Utilitarian imperative that an individual reports an offense that will bring about damage to a part or the whole of an organization, such as those in the Military. The act of whistleblowing can be described as a personal choice and, therefore, can be considered a personal moral value. According to Kant’s Categorical Imperatives, a person of high moral values will report a wrongdoing even though the organization might frown upon this behavior based upon their actions towards the whistleblower (Mintz, 2015).
Only courageous insiders with access to the information regarding failures of institutions such as the military are ready to bring those uncomfortable truths to light. Hence, being willing to challenge misconduct should not be taken as a tattletale or a snitch. It should be regarded as the willingness of these military persons to fulfill their obligation to their nation regardless of the individual consequences. Most whistleblowers, however, are not proudly taken as heroes in most quarters and especially other than the military field. They, therefore, need to be protected from retaliation by the people who may feel threatened by the release of their misconduct or that of their institution. The people who try to do the right thing are made to address the media to expose wrong conducts. This is because there is the lack of an effective or safe way of exposing this wrongdoing internally; thus, they end up getting nailed for it. They have more chances of being prosecuted under the Espionage Act and other reprimands for their actions.
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In careers like the military where life is at risk by the virtue of the purpose of the institution, trust is paramount and integrity is a requisite quality to all members. An officer who is not capable of being trusted is not tolerable. It becomes hard to balance an individual success and even survival with an institution’s integrity. Military personnel often get stuck between helping their institutions and monitoring the failures of such institutions.
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