“The BOI Notification lists the charges that will be considered
by its members. All the allegations are essentially focused on
Article 92 of the UCMJ; Failure to obey an order or regulation.
All the allegations state that he 'willfully failed to report'
This is where they will get LtCol Chessani.
The reason they will get him is that because the combat
reporting at the battalion level and below is never good. The
focus in combat is never, and should never be, on reporting.”
--The LtCol Chessani
case: Good news and bad news, mostly bad,
Bob Weimann, Defend Our Marines,
understand the Board of Inquiry (BOI) results are mixed
and the recommendation is that LtCol Jeff Chessani is permitted to
retire with his rank intact. I am truly happy that General
Carparotto and his other two board members submitted that
recommendation. I am very concerned, however, that this small
crumb is a political accommodation to cover the possible
administrative, political deception and trickery yet to come.
reason the BOI had to come up with a finding against LtCol
Chessani is complex but centers on US Marine Corps administration
and promotion procedures. Let me walk you through this.
Marine Corps Fitness Reports “provide
for the periodic reporting, recording, and analysis of the
performance and professional character of Marines in the grades of
sergeant through major general." (see MCO P1610
Performance and Evaluation System; p 1-3).
Marine Corps officer promotions are based on an evaluation of all
their career fitness reports. Your fitness reports are what get
you promoted or “passed over” (not promoted). Remember that the
BOI specifically tasked the board members to evaluate the fitness
report that relieved Jeff Chessani from command of 3/1.
Assume for a moment that the BOI found no fault with Jeff
Chessani’s actions during the Haditha incident. LtCol. Chessani,
upon SECNAV approval of the BOI, could immediately request the
Board for Correction of Naval Records to pull the adverse fitness
report (for the Haditha incident) that was used to relieve him.
Because the BOI found no fault, that particular adverse fitness
report would have no basis and would be removed from his record.
With the fitness report removed, LtCol
Chessani could then request remedial consideration for promotion
or a Special Selection (promotion) Board (see MCO
P1400 Marine Corps Promotion Manual, Volume 1–Officer Promotions).
In other words, Jeff Chessani missed promotion to Colonel because
of the pending court martial through no fault of his own.
According to Marine Corps Orders, he still deserves consideration
for promotion to the next highest grade.
special selection board is then required to compare LtCol
Chessani’s record to the “least competitive” records of LtCol
Chessani’s contemporaries already promoted. From everything I have
heard about LtCol Chessani’s professional reputation and record,
he would blow those records away.
here is the real rub. Upon selection to Colonel, the Commandant
would be required to submit LtCol Chessani’s name to the President
and Congress for approval.
Congress recently changed its guidance regarding officer
promotions requiring all officers with a “connection” to the facts
and circumstances surrounding the “Haditha incident” to be
identified for congressional screening. (The word “connected”
replaced the words “directly implicated of wrong doing”).
Folks, I believe that the Commandant, General Conway, does not
have the courage to tell Congress that the Marine Corps made a
mistake in the Haditha incident. In order to promote LtCol
Chesanni, the Commandant would have to validate that the Marine
Corps, General Chiarelli (then Commander of Multi-National Corps –
Iraq and now Vice Chief of Staff of the Army) and Mr Murtha all
make a huge mistake in judgment. For that reason, the BOI had to
find some reason, some fault, whether perceived or real, with
LtCol Chessani’s actions in Haditha.
other item we must remember is that the Board of Inquiry only has
the authority to recommend. Final authority rests with the
Secretary of Navy (SECNAV), Mr. Ray Mabus.
of the Navy is responsible for, and has the authority under
Title 10 of the United States Code, to
conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including:
recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training,
mobilizing, and demobilizing. (See more
that the words “war fighting” and or “combat” are missing from the
SECNAV job description. The SECNAV has the authority to accept,
reject or modify the BOI recommendation.
Mabus has a Harvard Law Degree, served as Governor of Mississippi,
the Mississippi State Auditor and two years in the Navy where he
served on the light cruiser USS Little Rock (1970-1972). I feel
his legal background combined with no combat experience will not
fare well for Jeff Chessani. Especially since the basic issue with
the Haditha case is the charge, under the rule of law, of murder.
In other words, Mr. Mabus may tend to agree with Mr. Murtha’s
sensational charge of “cold blooded murder” in addition to rubber
stamping any endorsement the Commandant of the Marine Corps
concerning part is that in order for the BOI recommendation to get
to the SecNav desk it will have to be endorsed by General Flynn
and the Commandant, General Conway. Both of these generals can
make any recommendation their hearts desire regardless what the
General Flynn has made his career as a
Headquarters Maine Corps staffer. (The Marine Corps slang term for
a career staffer is “staff
or “headquarters weenie”.) Because he understands proper
administrative procedures, I am guessing his endorsement on the
BOI recommendation will read something like “Concur with the
Board’s recommendation” and then he will forward it to the
General Conway is a different matter. The rumor is he likes to
smile a lot and say yes to his congressional contacts and his
civilian authorities. Providing controversial advice to the
national civilian authority in order to change a bad perception is
not his style or in his character. In fact, he is more likely to
avoid such confrontation than embark upon it. The question then
becomes what endorsement will the Commandant place on Jeff
Chessani's BOI recommendation?
Bob Weimann LtCol, USMC Ret.
Former Commanding Officer, Kilo Company 3/1