A letter of protest from two retired Guard generals

Earlier this month, we told you that Gov. Nathan Deal’s No. 2 appointment to run the Georgia National Guard last year didn’t meet the requirements spelled out by state law.

The Georgia code mandates that an assistant adjutant general have five years’ Guard experience. Joe Jarrard, a retired lieutenant colonel from Dahlonega with 20 years’ service in the U.S. Army, has a Bronze Star and a tour of Iraq duty in his background. But Jarrard doesn’t have a Guard background.

David Petraeus wouldn’t qualify, either, a spokesman for Deal pointed out.

Last week, the House Defense & Veteran Affairs committee had a hearing on HB 800, the bill intended to set everything right – by approving five years’ national military service as a substitute for Guard service. The committee approved the legislation over the voiced objections of two retired leaders of the U.S. Army Reserve, Major Gen. Robert C. Hughes and Brig. Gen. William T. Thielemann.

The two generals wrote the following Feb. 10 letter of protest to state Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, chairman of the House committee. They do not mention by name Adjutant General Jim Butterworth, a state senator appointed to head the Guard last year, but they make a pointed allusion to him:

Dear Representative Yates

We thank you for the opportunity to address your Defense & Veterans Affairs committee. The outcome on HB800 was disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising.

We were simply trying to state what should have been obvious to all: the Governor has made two appointments that totally ignore criteria established by the legislature. Instead of any concern over that issue, we faced trite (and at times seemingly hostile) questions like the lack of military service of our President. We hope your committee does not really believe that, because our [Commander-in-Chief] has no military service, then knowledge and experience is not important throughout the chain of command. Unfortunately, it was obvious early in the discussion that the Committee members were not interested in our input, and that a decision had been made prior to the meeting.

We were also trying to show that we are facing severe challenges on a national level to include force structure, funding and equipment. We have both faced similar issues in the past. We can almost assure you that the Army’s approach will be to take funding and structure from the reserve force. The Air Force is already moving in that direction. Our state leaders will have to fight with DOD for resources and then fight again with NGB for those limited resources. If anything, we should be raising the qualification standards for TAG and ATAG to better position our state for the battles to come. Instead we are lowering the standards.

The executive branch has in essence thumbed its nose at the legislative branch by ignoring established statutory standards. In doing so the Governor has placed himself above the law. Instead of indignation, the result has been accommodation after the fact. We find that approach most disappointing. We fully understand that politics is the art of compromise; however, there is a vast difference between compromise and concession. We find your concession on this issue most disappointing. It would have been nice to see our system of checks and balance actually providing those checks and balances. We find that, too, extremely disappointing.

Our position remains unchanged. We need quality, capable and experienced senior leadership for our soldiers and for our state. We should be raising those qualification standards, not lowering them. But again, we do appreciate the opportunity to share our views with you and your committee.

Respectfully,

Robert C. Hughes
MG USAR (Ret)

William T. Thielemann
BG USAR (Ret)

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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58 comments Add your comment

Lourdes Montgomery

February 14th, 2012
2:09 pm

Grown men wearing uniforms with bling make me giggle like a school girl.

Just Sayin'

February 14th, 2012
2:20 pm

David Petraeus wouldn’t qualify to directly command a Naval Fleet either… because it’s a different component of the U.S. military.

Robin Hood

February 14th, 2012
2:27 pm

Hughes & Thielemann both laid awake at night dreaming of their shot at capping their career heading up the Georgia National Guard. It must be frustrating to watch the Governor opt for reform instead of perpetuation of the same good ole boy system.

Curious George

February 14th, 2012
2:29 pm

Where were these two jokers when the Georgia Guard was swimming in scandal? Why have they waited until now to voice grave concerns?

CobbGOPer

February 14th, 2012
2:35 pm

The point here is that, once again, Nathan Deal just does what he wants, and everyone else can get bent if they don’t like it.

If a Democrat governor acted like this, the GOP-controlled General Assembly would be standing on its head in outrage.

Question Man

February 14th, 2012
2:37 pm

Isn’t it a shame when highly qualified gentlemen raise legitimate questions about a failure to comply with the law, and they are met with derision by legislators and by posters on this blog?

CobbGOPer

February 14th, 2012
2:38 pm

@Robin Hood

Nice deflection with the ‘good ole boy’ comment. Knowing that that’s what Governor Deal is running here, a good ‘ole boy network.

oppo

February 14th, 2012
2:39 pm

I’d like it more if they spent more time focused on how unqualified butterworth is to lead anything, especially the Gaurd, instead of just objecting to two deputies who are clearly qualified overall.

double

February 14th, 2012
2:41 pm

Not first time Gov.placed himself above law.

BBQlicious

February 14th, 2012
2:48 pm

The Georgia Guard was swimmng in scandal until Deal stepped in a ruined the party. It’s odd these fine gentlement weren’t raising red flags back when the illegal bonuses were flowing. No surprise they hate change. Nothing quite as sad as an early end to a great party.

Swamp Fox

February 14th, 2012
2:50 pm

Isn’t nice that L. Montgomery has the freedom to say what he wants because of those generals and bling bling?

Tambourine Man

February 14th, 2012
2:54 pm

Wasn’t General Hughes the joker whose unit got deployed to Iraq and then got sent home because they were so ill prepared?? Can this guy really be critical of anything?? Is he serious??

That little episode was the most embarrassing chapter in the history of the Georgia Guard. His unit made our Guard the laughing stock of every National Guard unit in America. But I hear he’s found something he can handle – a tambourine.

Democratic Man

February 14th, 2012
2:56 pm

Thanks Jim for continuing to a lap dog for us Democrats.

Laughable

February 14th, 2012
2:58 pm

@BB@licious:

How is appointing someone with no experience AND changing long standing laws to make it all “fine and dandy” change?? Why do we always bash people who don’t happen to share our own viewpoints??

Tyrone Brooks

February 14th, 2012
3:00 pm

Why not a African-American General to run the Georgia National Guard?

President Barack Obama

February 14th, 2012
3:04 pm

Looks like Georgia is in need of my leadership skills.

Rule .303

February 14th, 2012
3:08 pm

Well it looks like the Butterworth/Deal fanboys are in full force on this blog today.

BBQlicious

February 14th, 2012
3:08 pm

Laughable – Were you part of the scandal that Hughes & Thielemann apparently thought was “fine & dandy”, or are you ignorant of it?

I hear a train a coming...

February 14th, 2012
3:10 pm

Never mind me… I’m just waiting for the A-train.

Nope

February 14th, 2012
3:13 pm

Deal’s staff must have a lot of time on their hands today…

ld

February 14th, 2012
3:18 pm

Thought guv’s appointments were supposed to have some checks&balances aspect–state legislature, if it values it’s authority and takes its responsibility seriously, will correct this defect..

sandra

February 14th, 2012
3:22 pm

How dare they call Butterworth unqualified? He made it his first priority as Adjutant General to have custom, his and hers, license tags made with Georgia National Guard #1 and #2. What could be more important than military vanity plates?

Frederick Douglass

February 14th, 2012
3:39 pm

Tambourine Man @ 2:54

I might be mistaken, but I think you’re referring to General Robin Hughes, and he took over for the disgraced general whose troops weren’t prepared. Now the article could’ve misspelled the General’s name, if so excuse me for butting in. I’ve met the 48th’s General Robin Hughes, and I’m pretty sure he came in after the Iraq debacle.

kaycee

February 14th, 2012
3:41 pm

Since when is 20 years of regular army experience and a bronze star a “lowering of standards?”

Nemo

February 14th, 2012
4:09 pm

@kaycee: When they don’t actually qualify for the standards under state law. Similarly, I could work as a pediatrician for 20 years but still not be qualified for surgery under state licensing standards. It’s not that difficult to understand.

Bigdawg

February 14th, 2012
4:17 pm

You got what you voted for, Georgia! What did you expect from a crook?

findog

February 14th, 2012
4:25 pm

Only the democratic president needs to take the advice of military commanders into account
Republicans know better than our uniform leaders

Maddox

February 14th, 2012
4:28 pm

Obama and his corrupt lawyer and Briam Kemp and his corrupt judge placed themselves above the law by failing to remove Obama from the Georgia ballot. This improper and illegal conduct then leads to other doing the same thing. The two officers who wrote the letter are absolutely correct. Improper conduct from the top is taking America straight down into the cesspool. It is only a matter of time until the country is in anarchy.

findog

February 14th, 2012
4:32 pm

who was there and didn’t get a bronze star, does his have the V device or was it the I was there medal?

kaycee

February 14th, 2012
4:39 pm

@Nemo, I understand the existing law’s express requirement, however I think your analogy is a little faulty. Surely, a pediatrician would not qualify to perform surgery. However, my point still stands–is 20 years of regular army a lowering of standards? I wonder what specific issues are germane here?

Bigdawg

February 14th, 2012
4:50 pm

Maddox. Please remove your tin-foil hat and resume your meds!

Old Dobbins

February 14th, 2012
6:25 pm

I have had the privilege to serve with both of these officers. They were technically and tactically competent as outstanding battalion commanders during the 90-91 rotation at NTC in the train up for Desert Storm. Both later on served in their careers as the 48th Brigade Commander which was at that time the largest Army National Guard unit in Georgia. Both are also men of integrity and honor. To slander them and hide behind an e-mail is gutless. They both made the decision to meet with the legislature when no one else took a stand. If you care to throw stones and cast allegations at someone… show a little integrity and honor and post your name. Do not hide behind an e-mail. MAN UP!!!

Rule .303

February 14th, 2012
7:12 pm

Don’t pay them any attention Old Dobbins, most of them are the Governor’s interns.

Chicken Hawk

February 14th, 2012
7:43 pm

For the Record, MG Hughes did not lead any units in Iraq, so Tamborine man, check your facts before you go to print and become liable and have to print a retraction. These two men are something that this country needs more of, Men of integrity. The scandal started years ago and many filed complaints then 1996 till he and she got fired, and counldn’t get them to stick with old Teflon Terry. For those of us that were not pencil pushing ninnies, but real soldiers, we had a saying. Complacency kills, and unfortunatly complacency is killing our country, and our great state, the rules were made by men with integrity long ago to avoid situations like this, and the appeal from these two warriors is out of an effort to not be complacent and watch our States Army National Guard get killed off and laughed at when we have a TAG go in front of other MG’s because he has to wear suit and not a uniform, and squash him like a bug because he doesn’t know how the game get played.

CAV Soldier

February 14th, 2012
9:41 pm

As a long standing member of the Georgia Army National Guard and the 48th Brigade. I was at Ft. Irwin during Desert Storm. General Holland was the commander who was relieved for Cause. General Don Davis took his place. General Thieleman then became the Brigade Commander and so on… Commanders of the Georgia National Guard should be locally raised for one reason. They care more about the citizens of Georgia (Georgia is the National Guards priority) The Army getting in over it’s head, is why we have been bailing the Army out since Desert Storm.

Has anyone asked the Butterworth question? After forcing his Soldiers to take the Antrax Shot, he then refused his, (end of the line for him)… Now he comes back??????

Edward Ruffin

February 15th, 2012
7:13 am

To comment that Obama doesn’t have military experience doesn’t exactly enhance your argument. It clearly shows that he has no military experience.

CAV Soldier

February 15th, 2012
9:06 am

A lot of people slammed the 48th Brigade for the Desert Storm failure. No one takes in to effect that our failure was due to military equipment problems. The equipment we were required to us in Ft. Irwin was not the 48th Brigades, it was trash we were required to use by the US Army Training Center. that had been abandoned by Regular Army units all over the Mohave desert (Trash) not maintained and broken before we got it. We spent two weeks just towing tanks in from the desert so we could try to fix it to train. The Army wanted us to fail, so they could get a larger share of the National Guards Budget as well as not wanting the National Guard to make the Army look bad. The Brigades equipment was being prep ed for shipment to Iraq. The Army set us up for this failure. (No money, no parts and Bad Press). General Holland took the fall, but he was followed by The Best MG Davis who had just had a son killed at Ft. Irwin.

Corruption No Way that was at the TAG / ATAG and National Guard Headquarters level. I chose to stay at the lower level of the chain. These are the ones who make it happen. I never seen the HQ’s staff pulled dead bodies from the flooded parts of Georgia or even try to drive down the flooded streets. Even during Katrina when the 48th Brigade was in Iraq we still sent massive troops to Gulf Port and New Orleans to help recover bodies and repair vehicles shot at by the thugs in New Orleans. This is not a 48th Brigade Issue. Butterworth came in and relieved what was going to be a Good Command Structure for the National Guard. Some needed to go, but not all. A good future was ahead.

Local Good Ole Boy System or a US wide Good Ole Boy System. Who knows the Governor made have needed to get a loan or pay one off????????

HCA

February 15th, 2012
9:13 am

It is disgusting to read some of these gutless, baseless and nameless comments about our military. Old Dobbins has articulated much better than I could my own thoughts as well. The Governor removed an experianced officer and placed a friend in that position and increased his rank from a Captian (when he left the military) to a General. And to change the rules and laws after the fact is deplorable. Where is the Attorney General on this issue?

To Lourdes Montgomery; before making stupic statement like you did, perhaps you need to visit the Holocaust Museum and see what the Jews endoured during WW II. When you understand what our men and women in uniform have done and sacrifced in order to protect our freedom, then perhaps you would refrain from making yourself look stupid. Would you still be giggling like a school girl if you were lined up along a trench about to be shot just because of your religion like thousnads of Jews were? I think not.

crossdawg

February 15th, 2012
9:15 am

I am proud to have served with both of these Generals and consider both to be highly principled men who were good soldiers and commanders. I am proud of them for telling our fearless politicians that the governor is not above the law. It is an embarassment to the thousands of former Guard members in this state when the Adjutant General has to wear a business suit to the Pentagon because the Army doesn’t recognize him as a qualified General Officer.

Soldier

February 15th, 2012
9:49 am

I am a veteran of Active Duty, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. I believe in law, order, and regulations. In this case, the governor and staff broke the law. It is that simple. Now, he is having the laws changed in an attempt to cover it up. When we allow that to continue, we lose.
So to all who are trying to belittle the generals for speaking up, shame on you. You need to educate yourself with the law and actions taken in this. Your efforts to deflect or change the subject – to me- means that you are part of the problem.
Yes, I served with both generals and would do so in combat anytime. If you have not served in combat, you can not understand the trust that you have for someone.
I no longer trust the governor, my state representative, state senator, and the attorney general. None of these responded to multiple messages of my concerns during the last months. I will answer them at the election box.

Disgusted Soldier

February 15th, 2012
10:09 am

The “Good ‘Ole Boy” network of one has been replaced by another. Butterworth has no clue what he is doing. The only consolation the Soldiers and Airmen of the Georgia National Guard have is that at the very least, he will not be responsible for leading them in combat. Butterworth is an arrogant, pompous fool. The NG has been set back years with Deal’s blatant disregard for longstanding laws.

Just a simple guy

February 15th, 2012
10:14 am

This author is suspect in my opinion…the title of the article references 2 National Guard Generals making statements. Both of the retired generals are Army Reserve. How do you get that wrong and still have the reader believe he did his homework. I recommend we toss the article in the garbage and save our breath and brain power on this issue.

crossdawg

February 15th, 2012
10:29 am

The authors both had reserve comissions. Both served as General Officers in the GA National Guard. Both are now retired. Both love the GA Guard (as some writers here apparently do not).

ConsiderTheSource

February 15th, 2012
11:08 am

Ask anyone who has served with Hughes about his character and they roll their eyes. This guy now comes forward to say that Petraeus, Patton, and Eisenhower would all be unfit to lead a National Guard unit. Decent folks would be embarrassed to utter such nonsense in public.

Laughing Stock

February 15th, 2012
11:16 am

The Georgia Guard got kicked out of Iraq service because its leadership was patting each others backs instead of preparing our troops for battle. We will all have to wait a long time before the Pentagon and 49 other Guard units will forget that we were the joke of Iraq. Hughes should look in the mirror when searching for the problem with our Guard. He should man up and apologize to Georgia’s men & women in uniform for his role in this awful chapter in our Guard history.

Ethics Award

February 15th, 2012
11:22 am

Recipient of Common Cause’s 2011 Democracy Award for defending good government in Georgia – General Jim Butterworth. This award is given annually to a group of legislators, journalists, and community activists who uphold the organizations ideals of an open and accountable government.

“At a time when many state leaders will not step up to the plate and take on ethic reform, Senator Butterworth committed to closing a big transparency loophole in Georgia law,” said William Perry, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia.

Soldier

February 15th, 2012
11:50 am

Many are spouting misinformation. Are you doing it through ignorance or on purpose? The GA law stated the requirements of selection for the TAG and assistants. Since the law was not followed, it is now being changed. What do you not understand?
State leaders (elected) change the law to fit their desires. Some things don’t change. Ethics? Are you kidding me? Integerity does not exist within them.
This is just one of many subjects they ‘control’ to empower themselves.
I laugh at some comments which is so blatantly false. But, if you post it…..some will believe it.
Know your subject and keep the focus. The law was not followed in the appointments. Now, it is being changed to cover up.

Soldier

February 15th, 2012
11:51 am

Truth never changes. Knowledge does. Wisdom maybe.

Law Dog

February 15th, 2012
12:37 pm

Hey Soldier – Glad to hear you’re concerned about keeping it accurate. To help you follow your own advice you should know all appointments have been made legally. The legislation that has rattled Hughes’ tambourine will allow an appointment to be made which has not yet been made. Again, no appointment to that position has occurred so, Soldier, you are posting false information. “What do you not understand?” “Integrity does not exist” among folks who go online and post the sort of lies you’ve posted. “Are you doing it through ignorance or on purpose?” “Truth never changes. Knowledge does.”

Petraeus

February 15th, 2012
12:58 pm

I’m frustrated that the current law won’t let Petraeus lead a National Guard unit (that was unfit to participate in Iraq), but that same law allows soliders to publicly play tambourines. Are tambourines not addressed under don’t ask don’t tell?