In the world today, nations rely on its armed forces for security and defense. That is a given. But we also rely on the individuals in that service to defend our reputation and project both the military and ethical power of our society.
War and conflict are impossible to simulate. Under stress, the military is asked to conduct itself ethically while treading over the trip wires of fear, danger and death.
Sometimes, those actions run afoul of our own societal sensibilities as came to light in the Abu Ghraib scandal a few years back. No one could look at those pictures and read of the debasing treatment of detainees without feeling a sense of remorse and national embarrassment. We hold, in our brand of The United States of America, a belief that we are better than that. Still, bad decisions and poor actions are often the result of a mindset that says someone is the enemy.
But the Blue Angels? Give me a break.
The Washington Post reported, “The Navy officer is the latest in a string of senior military commanders to come under investigation for sexual misconduct or other misbehavior. Congress and the White House have grown especially frustrated at the Pentagon’s struggles to police sex crimes and harassment in the ranks.”
There is no excuse for this. None.
Let’s defend our brand as fiercely as we do our shores. The brand of America stands for something. We treat people with dignity and honor their unalienable rights. We defend their freedom from exploitation and stand up for the weak and oppressed.
The Navy needs to prosecute this offender. Severely. Looking at these situations in the crucible of our civilian world (which defines the Blue Angels role as a public extension of the military brand) says that something is wrong.
If we do not prosecute this crime, we foster a belief that the military is insular to the rules of our society. This is not what we want or need.
We cannot overlook the obvious and then be surprised by scandal. We tell all of our clients that brand is not marketing. Brand is a culture. It needs to reflect the culture you embrace and, through that embrace, it also directs actions. The Navy reflects our culture and we are a culture of laws. How about we enforce them with more than a slap on the wrist and a transfer? Certainly the Catholic Church learned that such meaningless punishment fosters a culture of ignorance.