Do you “curse like a sailor?” While doing so may be a long time attribute of military service, it is apparently not acceptable if you are a Three-Star General. At least, that is the finding of a recent Department of Defense Inspector General’s report.
The recently released report details the events surrounding a 2014 briefing at the U.S. Special Operations Command and remarks by Lt. General John F. Mulholland Jr., then serving as second of command of SOCOM. According to the report, the three-star “failed to treat his subordinates with dignity and respect” when he voiced his displeasure with the briefing by repeatedly dropping f-bombs and suggesting they should kill themselves. Professional? No; that’s probably not something taught at the U.S. Army War College. But, is this really worthy of an IG investigation?
According to the Army Times, review of the report on the 2014 briefing was the result of then SOCOM CO Admiral William McRaven making Mulholland aware of his displeasure with an earlier briefing, and directing him to obtain more information. The briefing in question was the result and it was not too long before Mulholland voiced his own lack of satisfaction, reportedly using the f-bomb “about 5 times…to punctuate his comments.” Some witnesses stated that the General suggested the briefers should be taken out and shot or even shoot themselves, also claiming that is what he would need to do if he were to take the report to the Admiral.
It was not long before multiple complaints were lodged via a DoD hotline and the IG was off and running. While some witnesses described the General as “uncontrollable,” others reported the events unworthy of being reported- never mind investigated. In the end, the DoD IG recommended the Army institute unspecified corrective action.
While profanity filled shouting matches are certainly not what is expected from three-star generals, the report is very clear in pointing out that this type of behavior is “not indicative of LTG Mulholland’s normal comportment.” In my opinion, this also points to what the real problem is – butt hurt after a well-deserved butt chewing by a superior. The briefing was the result of a previous briefing being deemed inadequate and LTG Mulholland held certain expectations for the follow up. When those expectations were not met, and some reportedly argued with him concerning the results, the General laid down the law in a manner which clearly showed his level of frustration.
Maybe it is a benefit of having been enlisted, but I clearly understood that a butt chewing was always on the radar if you screwed up; the only reason the CO rarely did the chewing is because he had others to do it for him. But, when you remove that buffer, occasionally you will feel the fury front and center. Maybe you do not feel it is deserved, maybe you do not feel it is professional, but the answer is not complaining that your feelings were hurt. The solution is to learn from it; if you are offended, use it to make yourself a different type of leader but most importantly – suck it up buttercup!
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