WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's joint hearing titled “Senior Leader Misconduct: Prevention and Accountability.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"I want to welcome everyone to this morning's Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. The purpose of today's hearing is to receive testimony from the Department of Defense and the Services regarding efforts they have taken to investigate and hold senior leaders accountable for misconduct, and to understand what programs and policies are in place to prevent misconduct.
Our military enjoys the highest confidence rating by far of any institution in America society. This well-deserved reputation has been earned through the service and sacrifice of millions of brave men and women. One by-product of this reputation is that the military and its leaders are held to a much higher standard than almost any other institution, and I know that you wouldn't have it any other way.
Consequently, the misconduct of a few can greatly impact the military's hard earned reputation. When the misconduct involves flag or general officers, the negative effects are even greater. These incidents of senior leader misconduct, even though relatively rare, not only hurt the victims involved, but can have a lasting impact on the readiness of the unit in which the senior leader has served.
While one incident of senior leader misconduct is too many, it is important to acknowledge that the vast majority of senior leaders serve with distinction. It is also important to acknowledge that some of the acts of misconduct that the military investigates and punishes would not be investigated, much less punished, in the civilian world. Nonetheless, military leadership must continue to ensure that all senior leaders uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct, and when senior leaders fall short, they must be held appropriately accountable.
We will hear from two panels today. The first panel consists of the Department of Defense and Service Inspectors General. They will discuss the reporting and investigation of senior leader misconduct, in addition to the types of cases they investigate.
For the second panel, we are honored to have the Vice Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, along with the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. They will discuss what happens to those IG investigations if they are substantiated, how they hold individuals accountable, and they will provide an overview of their prevention programs.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about ethics and mentorship programs in place to prevent misconduct. I am also interested to hear how the services investigate misconduct allegations and hold wrongdoers accountable. Additionally, I would like to know what trends have developed with regard to the types of issues that are being reported and investigated. Finally, I look forward to hearing what additional actions can be taken to further reduce incidents of senior leader misconduct.
I would like to make two other administrative points. First, it is important to note that the Department of Defense's common definition of senior official includes an officer in the grade of O-7 and above, including officers who have been selected for promotion to O-7, or a civilian member of the Senior Executive Service. For the purposes of today's hearing, and consistent with the jurisdiction of this subcommittee, the witnesses have been asked to focus on misconduct by senior military officers in the rank of O-7 select and above."