Congressman Mike Coffman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, had a question – and turned to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for answers. In a letter to the Defense Secretary, Coffman is asking Gates to provide answers as to how the Army was tricked into admitting a “faker” into the reserves as a non-commissioned officer, according to a feature on the Navy Times.
It was an Associated Press story that caught Coffman’s attention. According to AP, 26-year old Jesse Bernard Johnston III was given the rank of sergeant when he enlisted in the reserves in February. The thing is, Johnston was able to achieve that rank despite the fact that his military experience did not go beyond attending half of a 12-week Marine Officer candidate course in 2004. What this means is that while he started he course, he never really became a Marine.
Among the things that Coffman wanted to know was whether Johnston’s case was an isolated incident or an indication of “a larger systemic failure.” According to Coffman, his office has a copy of a fake discharge document that described Johnston as a veteran of the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coffman wrote: “The fact that the Department of the Army does not immediately verify that someone has or has not previously served is both stunning and frightening.”
The Congressman makes a valid point when he said that the absence of verification may open the military to infiltration by terrorists within their ranks.