August 12, 2005, - 3:41 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Is there really equality for women in the military? The firing, this week, of four-star Army General Kevin Byrnes, shows that the equality may only be present in the benefits. It certainly isn’t there in the punishment.
Byrnes served 36 years in the Army and was three months from retirement when he was suddenly fired. The cause was a sexual relationship he had with a woman who was not his wife. Adultery regulations prohibit such a relationship, but Byrnes was legally separated from his wife and was going through a divorce. Experts say firing for this for a four-star general is rare and that early retirement or a letter of reprimand was more appropriate.
Clearly, Byrnes is a victim of media and feminist pressure to make examples out of military men–in a torrent of whining–including on “Oprah“–about the sex scandals and alleged sexual assaults at the U.S. Air Force Academy (many of which have turned out to be consensual “he said, she said” encounters).
Compare Byrnes’ treatment with that of Lt. Kelly Flynn (has also been spelled “Flinn” in a number of news stories), a much bally-hooed female Air Force pilot who had a similar relationship with a married man (who was NOT separated or divorcing). Flynn was allowed the luxury of being warned first–an order from her commanding officer to stop dating the man. She chose to disobey. As a military JAG friend of mine said, “Do we really want a B-52 pilot who may be carrying nukes unable to obey orders!?”
But the female Flynn did not get the Byrnes treatment. The Air Force dropped the case against her and allowed her to leave the service.
The double standard is even more noxious when considering that Flynn was having an affair with the husband of an Air Force enlistee, a double no-no. Byrnes’ girlfriend had no connection to the military.
That’s important because, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, adultery, in order for it to be an offense, must not only be adultery, but the act must be either service discrediting or conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. A sexual affair with the spouse of an enlistee would certainly be prejudicial to good order and discipline. But how did Byrnes’ relationship discredit the service (it wasn’t public) or prejudice good order and discipline? The Army didn’t establish that.
After 36 years of loyally serving his country, General Byrnes deserved better. The Army’s punishment was out of line.
And Oprah is nowhere to be found to save his career.
Tags: Air Force, Army, B-52, commanding officer, General, Kelly Flynn, Kevin Byrnes, U.S. Air Force Academy