We've received many emails over the last week or so from readers asking us to get to the bottom of this situation/rumors du jour...I'm not sure that we can actually do that quickly, but here is what we've been hearing...
First of all, over the last week there have been many reports that the AFRICOM commander, GEN Carter Ham, had been arrested by his second in command and relieved of command. The reasoning in several articles from journalists and bloggers is that GEN Ham was ready to violate a do-not-assist order with regards to Benghazi. I would think that there are too many people who would know about this that could keep an event like that as quiet as it seems to have been kept.
Photo courtesy of Armed Forces Press
GEN Ham, with 42 years under his belt, could actually retire TOMORROW, and we should see what he has to say when he retires. Since the announcement of his being replaced, GEN Ham has been seen speaking at several functions. Hardly the position of someone who was arrested for insubordination...or as some are suggesting, the leader of a coup. But it is possible that he was removed for violating orders in a manner without arrest.
On back channel, there has been talk that GEN Ham is actually being relieved for another mission - one that was denied airspace access by a sovereign nation, and that GEN Ham intentionally violated airspace rules/laws in order to complete a mission (not Benghazi). There is also talk that GEN Ham is resigning in disgust of the chain of command - literally, with the Commander in Chief - and that he is trying to do so as apolitically as possible (and Ham is seen as being one of "the President's guys"). One would think that someone would wait for an election just days away to be over before resigning in protest (because you might have a new CinC), but who knows? On Monday, GEN Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that GEN Ham's departure was part of a planned rotation in the works since July. Hhmmm...
Then, we have an up and coming Rear Admiral being relieved of command of the Stennis carrier group. This is significant as it is not due to conduct unbecoming, personal conduct, or for incompetence, but for "inappropriate leadership judgment". What?!
Photo Courtesy of USS Stennis/US Navy
Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was relieved of command mid-deployment which is rare (understatement). From the AP
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Navy said Saturday it is replacing the
admiral in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle
East, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into undisclosed
allegations of inappropriate judgment...
One theory is that GEN Ham asked the Stennis strike group for assistance with intelligence and military response in the face of a "do not assist" order and that Admiral Gaouette attempted to follow through on GEN Ham's requests for assistance for the men in Benghazi. Another theory is that Gaouette was also part of a military coup. I think that's ridiculous and not in the cards with our GO's (and you would see an entirely different reaction that just relief of command).
It's hard to say what is truth and what is fiction right now. This is all speculation for the moment. And some of these rumors might have been started to ensure that the truth doesn't come out until after the election.
Are the two removals related?
Are Ham and Gaouette fall out from a cover up of Benghazi?
Is there any truth behind the rumors?