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Who Benefits When Top Military Brass Fall?
By Susan Stamper Brown
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Everyone is preoccupied with the events surrounding the juicy sex scandal involving now-former CIA Director David Petraeus to the point they may not have noticed a pattern -- a shake-down -- that is taking place in our military top brass, much like the one currently happening in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
Curiously, the shake-down here in the U.S. began just after the September 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, begging the question: Who benefits when great military leaders like Petraeus fall?
According to ABC News on October 27, “In an unusual move” the Navy replaced Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette who commanded a task group near Benghazi. Gaouette is under investigation for “allegations of inappropriate leadership judgment” they say is “not related to personal conduct.”   
A few days later on November 2, the captain of the frigate Vandegrift, Commander Joseph Darlak, was also relieved of his duties for “alleged drunkenness,” according to Fox5 in San Diego.
In addition, the Commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), General Carter Ham, who was at the center of the Benghazi incident on September 11, was precipitously scheduled for early retirement, according to the Washington Times.
If those losses are not devastating enough, enter the rapidly developing story about ISAF Commander General John R. Allen whose promotion is currently on hold until investigators can make sense of thousands of emails purportedly shared between Allen and an attractive Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who, according to the UK Daily Mail, “flirt[ed] outrageously with senior military figures invited to lavish parties at her $1.3 million Tampa mansion.”
The plot thickens when you add to the mix Kelley and her husband purportedly had financial troubles. According to Kelley and her husband were “subjects of lawsuits nine times” including “an indebtedness case from Chase Bank; a foreclosure case from Regions Bank, a credit card case from FIA Card Services” and “an $11,000 judgment against them” from when they lived in Pennsylvania.
Petraeus and Allen share much in common in that they are married, are highly decorated generals, are under investigation for inappropriate behavior, and also share a friendship with Jill Kelley. According to the UK Daily Mail, Kelley and Petraeus exchanged non-romantic “near-daily emails and instant messages” while Petraeus was commander in Afghanistan. The same thing allegedly happened to Allen.
We are told Petraeus’ alleged mistress perceived Kelley as a threat and sent disturbing emails to Kelley who then contacted a “friend” at the FBI, and the next thing we know, prominent military leaders are dropping like dominoes. While there is no justification for inappropriate behavior, it is fair to question if Petraeus and Allen were set up.
All this drama reminds me of a historical event that took place in 1941 when Joseph Stalin purged the Soviet Union’s Red Army of its best officers and leaders because he feared a military coup due to growing opposition to his highly unpopular policies. Putin’s doing the same thing today, save the bloodshed – we hope.
Hopefully, in our case, it’s a bit less nefarious; Obama is sitting idle while the Benghazi scandal makes its way through the ranks and does nothing to slow it down. Or, maybe, we are dealing with something as simple as a convenient distraction, wherein Obama hopes the more we focus on sexy, the less we’ll search for truth. Either way, Obama benefits and we lose.
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Email Susan at or her website at