Top general calls for new evaluations amid many military scandals

(CBS News) HIGHLAND FALLS, N.Y. - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, plans to change how generals and admirals are evaluated.

The officers' peers and those who serve beneath them could soon have a say.

Gen. Dempsey wants regularly scheduled performance evaluations of high-ranking officers, which would look at not only their decision making abilities, but what he describes as their professional character.

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This is in response to a series of scandals involving notable officers -- everything from extramarital affairs to misuse of government funds, to allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I think it's going after a problem the military has with what's called 'toxic leaders,'" said Mike Lyons, a CBS News military analyst and a retired U.S. Army major.

"They're going to have to pierce the veil of that general officer's staff and surroundings and make sure they get some feedback from subordinate commanders and non-commissioned officers," Lyons said.

Generals throughout history have been notorious for their lack of political correctness. One infamous scene in the movie "Patton" was based on a real event.

"Don't admit this yellow bastard!" the title character yells at a soldier, slapping him.

Former chief of military training at West Point, Hank Keirsey, was drummed out of the army after 24 years for anti-gay jokes told by an officer serving under him. He thinks the review is a good idea.

"You need to know how the subordinates feel about their commander," Kiersey said.

The evaluations will involve input from other officers as well as well as those who serve under them.

Keirsey says reports should be anonymous to avoid retaliation by officers who don't like their reviews.

"You know, here is my review from subordinates. 'Oh, I had 16 officers say I was a dirt bag, that i was toxic. I'm going to try find out who those guys are," he said.

A spokesman for Gen. Dempsey says that -- and how this whole process will work -- has yet to be figured out.

  • Don Dahler

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